Geography

General Aim

“To build an extraordinary learning community that fosters a spirit of enquiry and continual improvement”

The Geography Department in Strabane Academy has the aim of allowing students to acquire knowledge, develop skills, and achieve academic success in an atmosphere where they enjoy learning! Our vision is to enthuse our pupils and make them passionate about the world around them, developing an understanding of the complexity of human life and its physical surroundings.  We want our pupils to be independent thinkers who are fully prepared to engage meaningfully in an ever-changing world.

We believe this is best achieved through inspirational teaching!

Specific Aims

  1. To further student’s knowledge and ability to use a wide range of practical and social skills which will be of benefit to them as they become integrated members of society.
  2. To help students acquire a knowledge and understanding of the physical and human environment at a local, national and global level.
  3. To emphasize the importance of the human – environmental interface on a local and global level.
  4. To develop students’ awareness of the dynamic nature of the environment, the role of man in influencing it, and to foster an interest in the changes that are occurring.
  5. To initiate and develop an interest and enjoyment in Geography as a living subject and to promote a sensitivity towards the preservation of the world we live in.

Curriculum KS3

The Geography curriculum is varied in aspects of physical and human geography, to develop valuable skills, and provide a solid foundation in geographical knowledge that will be of use to them in the future.

At Key Stage 3, pupils have the opportunity, through research and fieldwork activities, to learn and investigate their environment and how they interact with it.

In K.S.3 each year group has 3 periods of geography per week. The K.S.3 scheme is based on the principles of the revised curriculum. It includes elements of place and space (physical and human geography), issues, fieldwork and I.T.

 

KS4

Geography is a popular choice amongst pupils for study at GCSE level. The Geography course is modular, whereby pupils sit one or more modules of the course at the end of year 11. This has the advantage of allowing students to sit exams throughout their term of study that gradually contribute to their final award. An important aspect of GCSE geography is the fieldwork element, which is examined in Unit 3 (worth 20%). The river study usually takes place at the end of Year 11.

In K.S.4 at present there are 5 periods per week allocated. The K.S.4 scheme follows the CCEA G.C.S.E. specification for Geography.

KS5

The ‘A’ level course allows students to further their knowledge and understanding of aspects of geography, developing a wide range of skills that will be useful in their future studies and careers.

At A level each year group has 8 periods of geography per week.

The AS and A2 level course follows the CCEA Specification for Geography

Through studying the GCE Geography specification, students will learn about:

  • Geographical concepts and processes;
  • Interactions between people and their environment;
  • The challenges of sustainability of the environment to secure a future for our children;
  • The importance of attitudes and values.

Students become aware of the important relationships between societies, economies, cultures and environments. They will also have the opportunity to relate what they have studied to the world around them.

Outline of the Course

Unit Duration Assessment

Format

Weightings Availability
AS 1: Physical

Geography

 

1 hour 15

minutes

 

External

examination

paper

40% of AS

16% of A level

 

Summer

AS 2: Human

Geography

 

1 hour 15

minutes

 

External

examination

paper

40% of AS

16% of A level

 

Summer

AS 3: Fieldwork

Skills and

Techniques in

Geography

1 hour External examination paper (Student bring a table of data and summary fieldwork report into exam) 20% of AS

8% of A level

Summer
A2 1: Physical

Processes,

Landforms and

Management

 

1 hour 30

minutes

 

 

External

examination

paper

24% of A Level  

Summer

A2 2: Processes and

Issues in Human

Geography

 

1 hour 30

minutes

 

External

examination

paper

24% of A Level Summer
A23: Decision Making in Geography 1 hour 30 mins External examination paper 12% of A-level Summer

Key features

  • AS 1: Physical Geography:

Rivers, Ecosystems, Weather and Atmosphere

  • AS 2: Human Geography with skills and techniques

Population, Settlement, Development

  • AS3: Fieldwork Skills and Techniques in GeographyA range of graphical, mapping and statistical techniques are studied and tested in the exam.• A2 1: Physical Processes, Landforms and ManagementOption A: Plate Tectonics – Theory and Outcomes 
    • Option B: Tropical Ecosystems – Nature and Sustainability
    • Students study
    • Fieldwork skills of planning, collecting, presenting, analysing and interpreting data are studied and tested in the exam.
  • A2 2: Processes and Issues in Human Geography Option C: Ethnic Diversity 
    • Option D: Tourism
    • Students study:
  • A2 3: Decision Making in Geography The study of this specification provides a sound basis for progression to higher education
  • Stretch and challenge takes the form of open-ended questions on A21 and A2 2
  • Students develop decision-making skills in a real world scenario.

There is no coursework element at ‘A’ level. Students complete practical fieldwork activities and use these to produce a table of results and summary report which is brought into the AS 3 exam and used to complete fieldwork-related questions.

 Careers:

There are many careers associated with the study of Geography, these include:

Environmental planning, transport, environmental science, teaching, meteorology, ordnance survey.

However, Geography is also a useful subject to allow students access to other courses. It is regarded as a science for the study of e.g. Speech and Language Therapy, Civil Engineering.

Former Geography students have gone on to study Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Accountancy

 

Our Geography Results – A department achieving consistently excellent results

2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17
Our

Dept

N.I. Ave Our

Dept

N.I. Ave Our

Dept

N.I. Ave Our Dept N.I. Ave
GCSE % A*-C 86 80.9 95 81.6 93 80.1 86.7 80.1
GCSE % A* -B 70 61.9 79 61.2 63 58.6 80 59.4
A-level % A*-C 82 85.3 100 84.6 91.7 85.1 100 86.9
A-level % A*-B 73 60 93 60.3 91.7 60.3 60 62.4

Our results over the last four years as compared to the Northern Ireland Averages show that the percentage achieving A*-C and A*-B grades in Geography at both GCSE and A-Level are well above the NI averages.

Fieldwork Opportunities and Trips

Our students have the opportunity to experience Geography in the world around them both at a local and international scale.

Local fieldwork opportunities at KS3 include weather studies, land-use surveys and visits to local geographical places of interest such as the Marble Arch Caves and the Giants Causeway.

At KS4 our pupils complete a river study at Magilligan Field Centre.

At KS5 our pupils complete a study of vegetation succession at Umbra Nature Reserve with Magilligan Field Centre.

Our senior students also have the opportunity to visit Iceland. This further develops pupils’ understanding of geographical issues relating to tectonic activity, coastal processes and glaciation. This trip extends pupils’ knowledge in relation to the GCSE and A-level Geography courses.

Iceland Trip

On 11th October 2017, the Geography Department took 24 pupils from Years 11-13 to Iceland for an unforgettable four-day visit.

On the first day of our visit we spent the afternoon exploring Reykjavik before an evening excursion to hunt for the Northern Lights. We were thrilled by the best Northern Lights of the season – a highlight of the trip for many of our students and a fantastic way to kick off the experience.  Our second day began with a tour of Hellisheidi Power Station to learn about geothermal power followed by a stop at Kerid volcano were students were able to walk around the top of the volcano and climb down into the crater.  One of the most stunning geographical features we visited was Gullfoss waterfall- one of the most impressive waterfalls in Europe.  We were able to view the expansive waterfall from viewing platforms right beside the falls – it was truly breathtaking.  Our next stop was to view Great Geysir – one of the most active geysers in the area, spouting up to 25m every 5-7 mins.   Our second day ended at Þingvellir National Park- a beautiful canyon running through the park forms the meeting point of two of the earth’s tectonic plates and a unique opportunity to witness the mid-Atlantic ridge.

Our third day began with a visit to Skógafoss waterfall where we climbed steps to view the top of the waterfall which is more than 200 ft high. This was followed by another unforgettable experience as we visited Reynishverfi – a black sand beach with views of sea stacks.  The destructive waves came onto the beach at such a rate that Mr Hetherington found himself caught out with some wet feet!  The next stop on our trip was Sólheimajökull – a glacier tongue that lies south of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier.  The evidence of global warming was clear to be seen as we walked along the path where the glacier had been only ten years ago and saw the extent of its melting.  Our final stop was Seljalandsfoss waterfall where we were able to walk behind the falls.

Our trip ended on a high, with a visit to the Blue Lagoon where we soaked our weary bones and enjoyed the benefits of the naturally mineral-rich, warm water.   Our students (and teachers) had experienced the very best Iceland had to offer and are looking forward to our next return visit!

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

Our KS3 pupils have the opportunity of attending Geography club at lunch times. This club is run by Mrs Millar and gives the pupils an opportunity to explore Geographical themes in a fun and interactive way…such as making model paper mache volcanoes which can be made to “erupt”.

Our KS4 and KS5 pupils have the opportunity to participate in workshops and attend lectures which are relevant to their courses. These include meeting with our local area planner to learn about how the planning process operates and discuss the regeneration of our area.  Our A2 pupils have also benefited from attending a lecture given by Dr Stephen Roulston of the Ulster University, an examiner in the area of skills and decision making in geography with CCEA, in order to give the students an understanding of how to handle the demands of their decision making paper.

Teachers

There are 4 teachers within the Geography department:

Head of Department – Mrs Kerry Aiken

Geography Teacher – Mrs Sarah Gallagher

Geography Teacher – Mrs Joanne Millar

Geography Teacher – Mrs Cathy Sayers