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, most recently in April 2023. The trip was an incredible opportunity for pupils to quite literally immerse themselves in the Geography of Iceland with our visit to the Secret Lagoon and Heimaey Pools, as well as marvelling at: spectacular basalt column waterfalls; glaciers; the Diamond Beach; The Lava Show; Geysir, volcanoes amongst many additional amazing locations. We even saw some reindeer, seals and puffins!
The department runs residential fieldwork courses to the fantastic Cranedale Centre in North Yorkshire for both GCSE and A Level. Keen Geographers have become part of the newly launched ‘Global Eye’ co-curricular club - sharing presentations and discussing a wide range of topics so far, including:
- Life in Tanzania
- The Aral Sea
- Should we ban air travel?
- The Geography of Minecraft
- Is Climate Change our greatest threat?
- Geographical Entrepreneurs
- To mine or not to mine?
- Sri Lanka’s debt crisis
Keen Geographers from Years 9-13 have visited Birmingham University for the Global Challenges Schools’ Forum in 2022, Sheffield for the Schools’ Climate Assembly in 2022 and Warwick University for pupils to participate in a fantastic climate debate with pupils from other schools in front of Matt Weston MP followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session with Matt Western MP, Professor Chris Ennew, the Warwick University Provost and Baroness Brown of Cambridge, who is chair of the Lords Science and Knowledge Committee.
Our younger pupils meet weekly for the Bablake Eco Council, to explore how we can all live more sustainable lives and design ways we can make school life more sustainable for everyone. Bablake Geography Outside the Classroom is an on-line community, which allows students to get involved in quizzes and competitions, as well as get information on upcoming events, new release books and TV shows and a host of other exciting geography-related fun! Each June, we run ‘30 Days Wild’ in conjunction with the Wildlife Trust, in order to give students more of an opportunity to engage with our natural world.
Bablake develops the whole child- developing responsible, confident adults with a sound academic base.