The Geography Department is staffed by full time teachers, some of whom also hold more senior roles in the College. The department maintains consistently good external examination results, and is consistently one of the top 3 most popular subjects at both GCSE and A Level. 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 allowing students to continue with their learning of the world in a more academically supportive manner.
The Geography Department is located in the Stable Yard of the College site. There are four subject-specific classrooms that are set up to cater for larger GCSE and KS3 classes as well as smaller A Level and BTEC classes. 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. KS3 pupils often conduct on site or digital field work, while Year 10 travels to Dorset to complete their controlled assessment on coasts. Travel and Tourism students visit Thorpe Park in Year 12 and British Airways in Year 13 as part of their links to industry. All sixth form students in both A Level and BTEC will have the opportunity to visit either Costa Rica, Iceland or Sicily as an "awe and wonder" destination depending on availability and numbers. These bi-annual trips are non-compulsory, however aim to improve and enhance the experience of learners on both courses.
Key Stage 3
In the Lower School, each of the two small classes has one 50-minute 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 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 the natural environment, population and settlement, economic development and geographical skills and investigations according to the Cambridge IGCSE syllabus.
Units are distributed evenly between Years 10 and 11, followed by a thorough revision programme with a focus on exam technique. Pupils will sit two exams at the end of Year 11. This will be split into unit 1 - knowledge taught in class, and unit 2 - geographical skills. 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 Level 6 in Geography or a 7 in another Humanities subject or English 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.
Students will cover hydrology and fluvial geomorphology, atmosphere and weather, rocks and weathering, population, migration, settlement, coastal environments, hazardous environments, production, location and change and environmental management across the two years according to the Cambridge International A Level syllabus.
All students will have access to publications, online journals and university level texts and resources.
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 IGCSEs at Grade 4 or above 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.
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 Thorpe Park as a UK tourist destination. In Year 13, pupils visit the British Airways cabin crew training centre at Heathrow to support their learning about customer service. Students will also have the opportunity to attend an international trip in conjunction with the sixth form Geography group.
The course will be predominantly assessed through assignments set and marked by the staff at the College, but approved and externally verified by Edexcel.
The course best suits students who prefer coursework and building the credit for their final grade steadily over a prolonged period of time.