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Why study Geography?

In order to understand how people interact with their environment!


Geography underpins a lifelong ‘conversation’ about the earth as the home of humankind. Geography therefore contributes to a BALANCED education for all young people. Geography is not a narrow academic subject for the few. It is fundamental for everyone, it is INCLUSIVE. Geography can nourish and enrich a whole lifetime of learning.

Geography fascinates and inspires: the beauty of the earth, the terrible power of earth-shaping forces – these things can take us out of ourselves. Geographical investigation both satisfies and nourishes curiosity. Geography deepens understanding: many contemporary challenges – climate change, food security, energy choices – cannot be understood without a geographical perspective.

Geography serves vital educational goals: thinking and decision making with geography helps us to PERSONALISE learning and live our lives as knowledgeable citizens, aware of our own local communities in a global setting.

Geographers are skilful: using maps and mediated images of people and place, numerical data and graphical modes of communication and getting to grips with the geographic information systems that underpin our lives, making geographers EFFECTIVE learners, skilful and employable.

What are the big ideas?

One way of understanding geography is as a language that provides a way of thinking about the world: looking at it, investigating it, perhaps even understanding it in new ways.

Languages have vocabulary. You need vocabulary to speak the language, but it is not enough. Languages also have grammar: rules, concepts and procedures which allow you to construct meanings.

The grammar of geography is its ‘big ideas’, which help us organise and attach significance to the vocabulary (geographical information). These big ideas show how RICH the subject of Geography is:

  • space and place (e.g. the ways space is used and humanised to create meaningful places)
  • scale and connection (e.g. the ways in which people and places are connected, from the local to the global)
  • proximity and distance (e.g. how technology has in some ways eroded the friction of distance – literally, shrinking distances)
  • relational thinking (e.g. how we see the world depends on our perspective)

Thinking geographically is COHERENT – as it is using the big ideas to organise the information – enabling children and young people to develop an understanding of:

  • The physical world: the land, water, air and ecological system; landscapes; and the processes that bring them about and change them.
  •  Human environments: societies, communities and the human processes involved in understanding work, home, consumption and leisure – and how places are made.
  • Interdependence: crucially, linking the physical world and human environments and understanding the concept of sustainable development.
  • Place and space: recognising similarities and differences across the world and developing knowledge and understanding of location, interconnectedness and spatial patterns.
  • Scale: the ‘zoom lens’ through which the subject matter is ‘seen’, and the significance of local, regional, national, international and global perspectives.
  • Young people’s lives: using their own images, experiences, meanings and questions; ‘reaching out’ to children and young people as active agents in their learning

How do we study Geography?

Geography is quintessentially a ‘discovery subject’. There was a time when it was all about exploration, describing and assembling information about the world: literally, geography was ‘writing the world’. It is still about exploration and discovery, but using the media and digital technologies as well as first-hand experience. Today, geography can embrace many forms of enquiry and exploration, using imagination and creativity to think critically about what we see. Our geography curriculum questions received ideas and conventional wisdom, and plays an important role in challenging the prejudices that sometimes limit our understanding of ourselves and others.

Enquiry and investigation lie at the heart of geographical thinking. The disciplined geographical mind is well placed to respond to fundamental questions on:

  • Identity: Who am I? Where do I come from? Who is my family? What is my ‘story’? Who are the people around me? Where do they come from? What is their ‘story’?
  • Place in the world: Where do I live? How does it look? How do I feel about it? How is it changing? How do I want it to change? Can I influence this?
  • The physical world: What is the world (and this place) made of? Why do things move? What becomes of things?
  • Human environment: Who decides who gets what, where and why? What is fair? Who decides? How do we handle differences of opinion?

Fieldwork – that is, learning directly in the untidy real world outside the classroom – is an essential component of our geography curriculum. There is no substitute for ‘real world learning’ – at least for some of the time. In geography this is manifest in a special way: we call it fieldwork and it provides a RICH learning experience.

Our curriculum is SEQUENTIAL but allows students to revisit content, deepening understanding and making wider connections as more knowledge is mastered. The material we cover in KS3 is designed to provide solid foundations / connections for that required at KS4, KS5 and beyond.


Geography Learning Journey 1

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Geography Learning Journey 3

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A Level Geography