The Geography Department is staffed by full time teachers many of whom also hold more senior roles in the College. The department maintains consistently good external examination results, with more pupils opting to study Geography at GCSE than any other non-compulsory subject. All members of the Geography Department pride themselves on excellent teaching and use technology and fieldwork wherever possible to enhance pupils’ enjoyment, learning and understanding. The subject enhances knowledge of local and current affairs, and teaches a number of analytical, statistical and graphical skills which are useful in later life including. Travel and Tourism is also offered by the department in the Sixth Form.
The Geography Department is located in the Humanities Block in the central teaching hub of the College site. There are two subject-specific classrooms with some lessons taking part in other classrooms within the block. Each classroom has a data projector and screen or Smart Board installed for interactive learning. Pupils often complete work digitally on their own devices connected to our high speed wireless network.
All fieldwork is run internally and so the College owns an impressive range of fieldwork equipment; in particular for fluvial and coastal studies.
The Geography Department enjoys hosting an annual ‘Worldwise’ Geography quiz, inviting pupils from a number of feeder and local secondary schools to compete against Shiplake’s teams.
As fieldwork is incorporated into teaching as much as possible, Geographers across all year groups are able to enjoy regular trips. Year 7 pupils study river processes and flooding down in Henley, while Years 10 and 12 travel to Dorset and Somerset respectively to complete their controlled assessments. Travel and Tourism students visit Stratford upon Avon in Year 12 and Barcelona in Year 13 as part of their study of European tourist destinations.
Key Stage 3
In the Lower School, each of the two small classes has one hour-long Geography lesson per week. The national Key Stage 3 syllabus is largely followed with an additional emphasis on practical geographical skills in preparation for GCSE coursework tasks. There are five sets in Year 9 which are set according to English ability. The schemes of work aim to bring all pupils up to a common level of understanding and geographical skills, whilst looking to inspire and encourage them to consider the subject as a GCSE option.
Due to the popularity of the subject, pupils are divided into three mixed ability sets and taught by the same teacher over the two year GCSE course. Studying Geography helps pupils to further increase their knowledge and understanding of local and global current events. Pupils cover a range of topics including investigating the earth and its peoples, and studying features of the earth such as mountains, rivers and seas and how they were formed.
Units are distributed evenly between Years 10 and 11, followed by a thorough revision programme with a focus on exam technique. Whilst the final assessment structures have yet to be determined, it is predicted that pupils will sit three exams at the end of Year 11. Topics will include physical geography, human geography and fieldwork and decision making. There is a compulsory two day coursework trip to Dorset, with additional fieldwork being carried out during lesson time.
Pupils wishing to study Geography at A Level are expected to have achieved at least a B in Geography or an A in another Humanities subject at GCSE. Developing educated opinions on many of the social, political and environmental challenges that face the world today will help to develop confidence in life beyond school. Although the course specification has yet to be finalised, pupils should expect to study topics such as Urban Environments, Rivers and Coasts, and Water and Carbon Cycles, Tectonic, Weather and Climatic Hazards and Development and Globalisation across the two years. The course also involves an independent investigation. Preparation for this will involve a residential field course. All students will have access to publications, online journals and university level texts and resources. The assessments will roughly be split across exams and independent investigation.
In the last few years several A Level Geographers have gone on to study the subject at university, either as single or joint honours. Developing educated opinions on many of the social, political and environmental challenges that face the world today helps to build pupils’ confidence in life beyond College, and makes them highly attractive to universities and employers alike.
Travel and Tourism
The BTEC Level 3 Travel and Tourism course was first introduced at Shiplake in September 2011. This course will suit pupils who have an interest in culture, geography, travelling and the world around them. Candidates will require good research and IT skills. Pupils are recommended to have a minimum of four GCSEs at Grade C for admission to the course. The course has proved a very popular and successful option for Sixth Form students looking for a more vocational subject.
Whilst the course specification has yet to be finalised, pupils should expect to study a range of topics, including investigating the travel and tourism sector, the UK as a destination, customer service in travel and tourism and long haul travel destinations. Students also go on several trips during the course. In Year 12, pupils visit a UK tourist destination. In Year 13, pupils visit the Virgin Cabin Crew training centre in Crawley to support their learning about customer service. Students will also be involved in undertaking and reflecting upon a short international trip to a European city, often Barcelona.
The course will be predominantly assessed through assignments set and marked by the staff at the College, but approved and externally verified by Edexcel. Although a small proportion of the course content will be assessed via external examinations, the course best suits students who prefer coursework and building the credit for their final grade steadily over a prolonged period of time.