Department: Geography

Head of Department: Mrs U Broadway

If you wish to learn more about the curriculum, please contact the Head of Department by email:

The Geography Department at Oaklands aims to give students an understanding of the world around them, its environments, places near and far, and the processes that create and affect them. We do agree with the comment made by Barack Obama that “The study of Geography is about more than just memorising places on a map. It’s about understanding the complexity of our world, appreciating the diversity of cultures that exist across continents. And in the end, it’s about using all that knowledge to help bridge divides and bring people together”.

Geography curriculum at Oaklands aims to give a broad coverage of the major disciplines within our subject with a strong emphasis on developing geographical knowledge. It is our intent that the principles of Catholic social teaching are intertwined across our geography curriculum. When devising our curriculum, we try to create balance between breadth of coverage and depth of study. We try to give students the content (substantive geographical knowledge) and the knowledge of relationships that allow students to understand the connections between ideas (disciplinary knowledge) so they have the full geographical understanding.

We believe the most important aspect of the learning geography at Oaklands is to be able to apply knowledge and conceptual understanding to new settings, to ‘think geographically’ about the changing world. We also see it as our mission to give students access to cultural capital so that they can participate fully as successful global citizens; this also supports the values and virtues that the school upholds.

Our curriculum also provides students with an opportunity to develop leadership skills.  For example, In KS3, students will work in a small group and a single student will lead the group through a part of the activity (e.g. de Bono Thinking Hats framework). In Year 10 and Year 12, students take part in various fieldwork activities leading data collection surveys.

Our Geography Curriculum is ambitious because:

  • The curriculum introduces students to a significant breadth of content and ensures that students learn the required skills and knowledge to a sufficient depth. An understanding and knowledge of our planet and its people is key to this endeavor.
  • The knowledge learned is interconnected, providing opportunities to revisit concepts so they are remembered for the long term.
  • Students develop substantive knowledge in areas that include location and place knowledge, environmental, physical and human Geography, skills and fieldwork.
  • Recent geographical events are included within the curriculum. These interest students. To that end, the curriculum can ‘flex’ to reference current relevant events.
  • Students have an opportunity at various points in the curriculum to look holistically at the issues raised in Geography and consider these along side the values and virtues the school upholds. This leads to respect, tolerance and empathy towards others.
  • Independent thinking and enquiry is actively encouraged so students start to ask higher order questions of why and how. This leads into our students becoming active citizens in a changing world.
  • The curriculum is designed to allow pupils to see that Geography is a dynamic subject where thinking and viewpoints change. An awareness of the world around us and the issues that it faces, develop this thinking.
  • Disadvantaged students have the same opportunity as all others and are supported to achieve.
  • Different types of assessment are used so students understand what they have achieved, misconceptions can be corrected and the curriculum can, where necessary, be adapted.
  • We ensure students explore the values and virtues that will allow students to make informed and rational choices in the adult world.

Students come to Oaklands with a variety of experiences of Geography from primary school (40+ feeder schools). Some of our students will have developed their knowledge about the United Kingdom and their own locality. Some students have an understanding of the similarities and differences of human geography such as types of settlement and land use. They will also study physical geography elements such as climate zones and biomes, rivers, coasts, volcanoes and earthquakes.

The first unit in Year 7 called ‘Fantastic Places’ intends to build on and consolidate KS2 experiences of map skills but it also is stimulates interest and enthusiasm for Geography. Students explore ‘Fantastic Places’ around the world linking to places they already know or are familiar with from their personal experience as well as through what they have been taught at KS2. This knowing where’s where supports students’ identity and sense of place and contributes to their understanding of geographical processes. Over time, our students learn and remember more locational knowledge and they become increasingly fluent in identifying specific locations (Geog. your memory recall tasks).

Within Key Stage 3, our Geography curriculum begins with an introduction to the subject of Geography; baseline testing provides detailed information on knowledge, skills and concepts mastered at KS2 as well as the teaching of map skills – an essential geographical skill.

Through its very nature, geographical knowledge is stimulating and motivating. Teachers make the most of this and use many thought-provoking aspects of Geography in the curriculum. Outside of the lesson there are opportunities for enrichment where students can participate in extra-curricular activities such as the International Club, Iceland trip, St John’s week and the British Council projects, which allow our students to work with young people from various countries around the world.  We also support cross curricular links to other subjects e.g. Trash in Year 7 focusing on Geography of South America and favelas settlements. We also have a Geography Club.

As students move through the Key Stage they should be able to interpret geographical information with independence and precision; specifically it is our intention that  students:

  • Broaden and deepen their knowledge and understanding of places and themes.
  • Make use of a wider and more precise geographical vocabulary.
  • Analyse geographical patterns, processes and changes.
  • Appreciate the interactions between physical and human processes.
  • Understand that places are interdependent.
  • Study a wider range of scales, places and environments.

At KS4 and 5 students are encouraged to build upon the knowledge mastered in previous key stages. Students will   further explore, construct and investigate many areas of Geography so they are able to take a broader view, generalise and critique models that represent specific processes (Water and Carbon cycles, Contemporary Urban Environments). This includes applying geographic knowledge from multiple areas of geographic study; for example, both understanding what a physical process is and how or why it occurs, and then how it impacts communities and their responses to it (Natural Hazards, Water and Carbon Cycle, Coastal Environments). There is further development of:

  • Knowledge of locations, places, environments and processes, and of different scales including global; and of social, political and cultural contexts (know geographical material)
  • Understanding of the interactions between people and environments, change in places and processes over space and time, and the inter-relationship between geographical phenomena at different scales and in different contexts (think like a geographer)
  • Competence in a range of skills including those used in fieldwork, in using maps and GIS and in researching secondary evidence, including digital sources; and develop their competence in applying sound enquiry and investigative approaches to questions and hypotheses
  • The application geographical knowledge, understanding, skills and approaches appropriately and creatively to real world contexts, including fieldwork to West Wittering and Dorset, and to contemporary situations and issues; and develop well-evidenced arguments drawing on their geographical knowledge and understanding (NEA independent enquiry).

Updated July 23