“Geography is about understanding the world we live in, how and why it is changing, and how we manage that as a society. For enquiring souls, that dynamic process is exciting. Geography is the one holistic discipline that can deal with the issues our generation has to tackle”
Andrew Lycett, The Sunday Times
World Aids Day 2013
To recognise World Aids Day 2013, the Year 13 Geography students organised a number of fundraising events with a distinctly red theme! Red accessories or clothes could be worn for a small donation, and there was a cake sale in the Sixth Form common room. Ribbons were on sale in the lead up to the day and it was marked by an assembly with a focus on discrimination and stigma, written and presented by the students.
Thank you to all the girls who supported World Aids Day 2013.
Year 7 Trip to Summertown, September 2013
Is the Banbury Road in Summertown a typical shopping street?
This is the question that the Year 7 Geography students are seeking to answer, and to help them do this they visited Summertown in the week commencing 23 September 2013.
Despite some windy and showery weather the girls approached their investigation enthusiastically. After a brisk walk to Summertown, groups of three walked the length of the Banbury Road classifying the land use of each building and marking it onto their map. For five minutes during their trip they conducted a pedestrian count in different locations.
The girls are now presenting and analysing the data they collected in order to determine whether indeed the Banbury Road is a typical shopping street.
Geography and DT trip to London, September 2013
Cross-Curricular Visit to London’s East End
First stop was the Museum of London Docklands located a short walk from the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf in a 200 year-old warehouse. Girls had the chance to follow the industrial decline of the docks during the ‘swinging sixties’ and their regeneration in the 1980s, through the eyes of the London Docklands Development Corporation (a key GCSE Geography case study), the local workforce and Docklands communities.
Next came an exhilarating ride on a Thames Clipper. These high speed catamarans carry around 8500 commuters and tourists a day and are designed to ease congestion on London’s busy roads. No sooner had we left Canary Wharf than we were docking at North Greenwich Pier, where we spent some time examining the redevelopment of the area around the O2 arena.
To reach our next destination we took a flight on the Emirates Air-line, a 1km gondola line that crosses the Thames. Soaring at 90-metres high we had spectacular views of the Thames Barrier and Anish Kapoor’s ‘Orbit’, built as a lasting legacy of the 2012 Olympics.
Solutions for Sustainable Cities
For our final destination of the day we visited the Siemens Crystal. This exhibition is dedicated to urban sustainability. Following a powerful and thought-provoking video outlining the current situation and the possible threats, the girls made their way around the ten interactive zones that look at the challenges and opportunities for cities now and for the future.
The day proved extremely successful; the girls returned to OHS with sketchbooks filled with ideas and a better understanding of the pioneering solutions and innovative technologies that are driving future trends for a more sustainable world.
Geography Trip to Iceland, August 2013
On Friday 16th August 30 OHS geographers embarked on a 6 day adventure to discover volcanic craters, lava flows, hot springs and geysers, glaciers and stunning waterfalls, all wrapped up in centuries-old Norse culture.
We were heading for a living laboratory where nature’s land forming processes are so easy to see – Iceland, the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
During the trip students had the chance to experience the tranquillity of the Blue Lagoon where the water is heated to a balmy 37-36 degrees centigrade, and take a ride in an amphibious vehicle on the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. We walked on the Solheimajokull glacier (the crampons took some getting used to) and spent a day following the route of the Golden Circle, which includes the incredible Gullfoss waterfall with its double drop, Þingvellir, the site of a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the geysers of Haukadalur.
Most evenings were spent playing Geography charades (well done to the victorious Year 11s), and enjoying a round of every good geographer’s favourite pastime: Mapominoes!
Iceland is a truly unique destination; one which we all hope to return to.
Rushall Organic Farm, Berkshire
Working in groups, the girls undertook a comprehensive programme of activities which included:
- Investigating land use and diversification of the farm
- Studying the farm as a system
- Understanding the practice of crop rotation
- Examining soil characteristics in three locations, including texture and permeability
- Pond dipping
We finished our visit with an obligatory cuddle with this year’s flock of orphaned lambs and a visit to Camilla the very friendly Kune Kune pig.
The practical learning the girls experienced will reinforce the work they are carrying out as part of their unit on farming.
Thank you to all the staff at Rushall Farm who made the day so memorable.
The Department and Curriculum
- Ms Katie Yeo
- Mrs Laura Black
- Miss Stephanie Lea
Geography is a popular subject at Oxford High School. Modern Geography provides a varied and multifaceted approach to learning. We aim to provide inspiring and stimulating lessons that challenge pupils’ perceptions of the world around us.
At OHS, Geography offers a varied and exciting curriculum from Year 7 to Year 13.
Topics studied include:
- Making Connections, Exploring England
- Changing Shopping
- OS Mapping Skills
- Rivers and Flooding
- Mapping Europe
- Energy, People and Resources
- Mapping My World
- Tectonic Processes
- Tropical Rainforests
We use an enquiry-led approach to all our work. We believe that good geographers should be asking questions and looking for explanations. Practical investigations play a vital part in teaching and learning at OHS. Each year group, from Year 7 to 13, has a structured programme of field and project-work:
Year 7 undertake an investigation into the shops and services in Summertown, following a fieldtrip in the Autumn Term. They also carry out a half day River Walk along the River Thames in Oxford and during the summer term, Year 7 also undertake a mini investigation into microclimates around the school site.
Year 8 complete two independent research projects on coastal erosion at Happisburgh, Norfolk, (http://www.happisburgh.org/) and the living conditions in Brazilian Favelas. They also visit Rushall Farm (http://www.rushallfarm.org.uk/), a mixed organic farm near Pangbourne to look at the farm as a system, diversification, go pond dipping and meet the livestock.
In Year 9 the pupils’ work on Plate Tectonics and Rainforests is complemented with an activity based trip to a number of exhibits at the Natural History Museum (http://www.nhm.ac.uk/). The Rainforest unit is further complemented with an independent investigation and a group project.
Geography at GCSE, AS and A2
We follow the AQA A syllabus (http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/geography/gcse/geography-a-9030)
Paper 1, which examines the Physical Geography units, is worth 37.5%. Topics covered are The Restless Earth, Water on the Land, and Ice on the Land .
Paper 2, which examines the Human Geography units, is also worth 37.5%. Topics covered are Changing Urban Environments, Globalisation and Tourism.
There is also a Local Fieldwork investigation worth 25% of the total marks. It is completed in the form of a Controlled Assessment in the Summer Term of Year 10.
Fieldwork forms an important part of the course where we reinforce class-based learning with experience in the field. The Year 10 visit to Oxford and the Year 11 visit to The Siemens Crystal, London (http://www.thecrystal.org/) are designed to give the students the techniques and skills they will need in order to collect and analyse their own data in their Local Fieldwork Investigation, as well as provide invaluable case study material. There is also the opportunity to take part in a residential fieldtrip to Iceland every other year.
We follow the AQA syllabus (http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/geography/a-level/geography-2030)
Unit 1 examines both the Physical and Human Geography topics. The core Physical module of Rivers, Floods and Management builds on the knowledge gained at GCSE and the optional Physical module is Coastal Environments. The core Human module of Population Change and optional module of Health Issues are both contemporary and relevant. All of these modules present opportunities for studying themes of environmental impact, management, sustainability and citizenship.
Unit 2 is skills based, where sophisticated skills of analysis and evaluation are developed, along with the knowledge and understanding of fieldwork techniques
Geography at A2 adopts an issues based approach. In Unit 3 concepts, themes and skills covered in AS are extended and developed using different settings and at larger spatial and temporal scales. Contemporary themes include Development and Globalisation, Contemporary Conflicts and Challenges, Plate Tectonics and associated hazards and Weather and Climate and associated hazards.
Unit 4 is based on practical field-based techniques along with skills of analysis, synthesis and evaluation to form measured views on complex issues.
Features of the A-Level course:
- The dynamic nature of the subject is central to developing a balanced understanding of Physical and Human Geography
- A variety of forms of assessment including structured questions, extended writing and a practical paper
- Fieldwork is an integral park of the course. There is a four-day residential visit to Slapton Ley Field Studies Council Centre in Devon (http://www.field-studies-council.org/centres/slapton/slaptonley.aspx) and a local daytrip to Oxford locations. Both are undertaken in Year 12
- Strong links to other subject areas, including Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Economics, History…
- Opportunities for decision making, group presentation, discussion and individual research
- There is no coursework.
“Geography is not only up-to-date and relevant, it is one of the most exciting, adventurous and valuable subjects to study today. So many of the world’s current problems boil down to geography, and need the geographers of the future to help us understand them”.
Michael Palin, CBE
President of the Royal Geographical Association