CDG Inset at Cams Hill – An exciting time to be a Geographer!

A big hello to those of you who are reading this after this mornings Inset. I hope that you find what’s here useful, and please follow some of the links to the right. These are the people where I have got the inspiration from. The copies of the PowerPoint used today and Handout can be found by following the links in yesterdays post below – just scroll down the page and look for ‘KS3 Support Meeting’. Also, please feel free to add a comment – I appreciate any feedback whether it’s positive or negative. I hope that my message of positive action was clear. Thank you to those who gave me some feedback at the end of the meeting – I really appreciate the positive comments and look forward to working with the new contacts created!

Two issues were considered today: the 14-19 agenda and the future of Key Stage 3.

I feel uneasy over the 14-19 curriculum plans. The wording ‘all pupils will choose one of the pathways / diplomas’ concerned me. The immediate questions to me are what aspects of these new diplomas can geographer’s contribute? and what will happen to Geography within the 14-19 curriculum as there is very little mention of it! I am going to keep a close eye on this issue as I think it’s vital that geographers can demonstrate how our subject knowledge and skills can contribute. It seems that the Fareham area at least is gearing up for these changes, and this could explain some of the movement towards compression of KS3, although this is discussed below.

The second issue examined Key Stage 3. Two aspects were briefly considered: the compression of Key Stage 3 and the new version of the National Curriculum due in September 2008. Personally, I feel that our energies should not be misdirecting into arguing against these changes, but channeled into creating a Secondary Geography Curriculum that meets the needs of 21st Century learners: challenging, fun, relevant and current. I believe that departments can localise their curriculum’s and play on the strengths of the department. I also believe that we should focus on the local issues, for example, if there is no river in the locality, do KS3 students really need to know about meanders and ox-bow lakes? Do pupils on the South coast really need to explore glaciated landscapes when the nearest example are over 4 hours drive away? Hopefully this will reverse the trend where pupils know more about a favela in Brazil than issues within their own urban setting such as immigration, industrial decline and housing expansion.

Geography is a dynamic subject and part of the appeal is they way in which the subject explains the world around us. Therefore I also believe that Geography should tackle current issues, both local and global. The recent Napoli disaster, for example, can be used to examine people’s effects on fragile environments, the effects of storms and other issues. Yes there are the classic case studies, but are children really interested?

Under a compressed Key Stage 3 I believe that depth is more important that breadth. We should be taking our time to allow pupils to fully explore concepts, issues and topics. There is no need to cover all of Geography, especially those aspects that many of us feel are very dry and dull! I know I have my favorites (climate, environment, coasts, tourism..) and topics I’d rather leave behind (industry, farming, transport, urban land use models and outdated grand theories). However, I believe that we should ‘start from scratch’ with our new curriculum’s instead of deciding simply on what to keep and what to bin.

Finally, the issue of what to do with KS4 after a compressed KS3 must be considered. I’m not a fan of offering AS Geography in Year 11. Instead I think we can really personalise learning by offering a wider range of courses and specifications. Would it be possible for a single departments to teach more than one GCSE Geography specification? I think so. In addition, there is room for Environmental Studies, Geology, Archeology, Outdoor Education and many more. Of course, here I think the key will be playing on the strengths of a department.

In summary it’s an exciting time to be a Geographer. The new National Curriculum will clear all content allowing us to use our professional skills to design exciting, relevant, radical curriculum’s that will ensure that KS3 pupils will fall in love with Geography (if it’s for them).

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