In a rapidly changing world, the geography department aims to inspire pupils about the wonders of the amazing planet they live on and equip them with the skills to go out and discover how it works and how they can make it a better place
The department is housed at the far end of the main school building in the "old Headmaster's house" and comprises of two large teaching rooms, two 6th Form teaching rooms, a shared ICT suite with its own cluster of networked computers and the departmental office. The school's automatic weather station is located at the school's playing fields, with data accessible via data logger and modem to the school itself and to the Met Office, which takes the data on an hourly basis as part of its UK-wide observational network.
Geography is a compulsory subject for the first three years at Bablake, and an option at GCSE and A level.
At KS3 the department aims to give pupils a solid grounding in a range of geographical topics with an emphasis on building the skills necessary for study at GCSE and A level. In Shells, pupils study the following units: ‘Making Connections’, ‘Exploring Britain’ and ‘Weather and Climate. In Second Year, the theme is ‘Our Fragile Planet’ investigating topics such as Antarctica, Plastic Pollution, Recycling and the Globalisation of Fashion. In Third Year, the theme is ‘Our Hazardous Planet’ studying Conflict, Crime and Natural Hazards. After Easter Third Year pupils embark on the GCSE course (OCR ‘A’), whether or not they opt to continue with Geography (though the vast majority do).
The GCSE course encourages pupils to think like geographers through the study of geographical themes applied within the context of the UK and the wider world, aiming to inspire a passion for geography and an interest in the subject and world around them beyond academic achievements, and for the rest of their lives. Pupils will study in depth the diverse and dynamic geography of the UK, gaining an appreciation of the changes to the UK’s geography and the processes which drive them. This includes the study of natural landscapes which define the UK, the people of the UK and the environmental challenges which it faces. The complexities of the planet are considered and the interconnections that take place in the wider world, including the study of key ecosystems, people of the planet and environmental threats to the world. Geographical skills are embedded throughout the course, always contextualised within the geographical content. Pupils develop critical thinking skills as they learn how to formulate enquires and arguments through their study - skills which are honed during a two-day compulsory residential fieldwork course in Shropshire.
At A level we teach the Cambridge International specification - this is intended to help pupils become confident, responsible, reflective, innovative and engaged learners. It provides the opportunity to study contemporary events and issues, which students will be able to relate to events in the real world in which they live. Cambridge International qualifications are international in outlook, but retain a local relevance and are highly respected by universities and employers. The A level course includes a study of topics familiar to our own GCSE students such as Hydrology and Fluvial Geomorphology, Atmosphere and Weather, Rocks and Weathering, Population Dynamics, Migration and Settlement Dynamics. In the second year of A level, students study Coastal Environments, Hazardous Environments, Environmental Management and Global Interdependence. We run a four-day residential fieldwork course in Yorkshire to contextualise the physical geography studied at A level.
Throughout the school, the department has the following aims:
- to stimulate student curiosity, interest and enjoyment in the world around them
- to encourage pupils to have an open, enquiring mind and be independent thinkers and learners
- to perceive Geography in the context of a wider body of knowledge, vocabulary and skills
- to provide a basis for lifelong study, and the pursuit of personal interest in the subject even beyond school
In recent years, a good number of A level Geography students have elected to study the subject at university, with several taking up places at Oxford to read the subject. There are a wide variety of university courses that our A level students have followed ranging from Aeronautical Engineering to Medicine, Law and Marketing - there really is no career that does not benefit in some way from a background in Geography - employment rates amongst Geographers are amongst the highest recorded of any graduate subject.
The department has organised several expeditions to Iceland in recent years and runs residential fieldwork courses to FSC Preston Montford, Shropshire and the Cranedale Centre in Yorkshire. Selected pupils often undertake geographical research projects as part of Symposium, and the department organises visits to conferences, lectures (Ranulph Fiennes) and participates in local heats of the GA ‘Worldwise Quiz’.