“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
Year 12: Residential Field Trip to Slapton Ley Field Study Centre, South Devon
On Friday 18 January, the Year 12 geographers set off for their annual visit to Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre on the South Devon coast. Despite difficult conditions in Oxford, we were excited about the varied fieldwork ahead.
Our busy schedule saw us:
- Examining the river variables of the River Harbourne
- Investigating the impact of infiltration rates and land use on flood risk
- Evaluating coastal management schemes along the Start Bay coastline
- Studying plant succession on a shingle ridge
We experienced Dartmoor blanketed in snow, walked a short section of the South West coastal path in sunshine, and collected data on the shingle ridge in the pouring rain, but throughout the girls worked with typical OHS enthusiasm. We returned to find that the snow we thought we had escaped from had returned!
The data collected will reinforce the girls’ AS course and provide them with hugely useful case studies.
We look forward to our return next year!
Year 12 fieldwork in Jericho, Cutteslowe and Wheatley
First fieldtrip of the year
The Year 12 Geographers spent their first fieldtrip of the year visiting three contrasting areas of Oxford: Jericho, Cutteslowe and Wheatley. Using various data collection techniques, the girls gathered information on the housing and service provision in each location.
Using Census data
Prior to the fieldwork, Year 12 had used the government website, Neighbourhood Statistics, in order to collect Census data regarding the ethnicity, age structure, and wealth and employment characteristics of each site.
Using this primary and secondary data, the Year 12 Geographers will create three comprehensive case studies which they will use in their AQA AS examination.
Year 7 Trip to Summertown
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 their form groups recently.
Despite some windy and showery weather the girls approached their investigation enthusiastically. After a brisk walk to Summertown, groups of 3 walked the length of the Banbury Road classifying each building and marking it onto their land use map. The classifications used were comparison shop, convenience shop, service, residential and vacant. They were testing against the hypothesis that a typical shopping street would have more convenience shops than comparison shops. For 5 minutes during their trip they conducted a pedestrian count in different locations.
With all the data collected, the girls are now presenting and analysing it to determine whether indeed the Banbury Road is a typical shopping street.
Year 8: Rushall Mixed Organic Farm
The amazing summer weather heralded the start of our term of events and held as we paid our annual visit to Rushall Mixed Organic Farm with Year 8 as part of their farming unit. It was the largest group we have taken but thanks to the farm staff and their clever planning the groups of girls managed to fit in an extensive programme of activities which included looking at the farm as a system, crop rotation, diversification and pond dipping without bumping into each other too often! Some girls had the opportunity to have a very interesting talk on bee-keeping which included the sampling of the freshest honey straight from the hive. They also conducted some experiments to see if there were any negative effects of farming on the environment and had the opportunity to meet the lambs born this year. You can see more about the farm at www.rushallfarm.org.uk.
Britain from the Air Exhibition
Towards the end of term Ms Yeo and Miss Gandell attended the Schools Launch of the wonderful Britain from the Air at the Oxford Castle. The exhibition is a free, open air street gallery boasting a hundred huge aerial photographs of Great Britain reflecting the diversity of landscapes that we have. It continues until 4th September and we urge all girls (and their families) to go during the summer break as it is fantastically inspiring.
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. The Key Stage 3 Curriculum is as follows:
Topics studied include:
- Making Connections, Exploring England
- Changing Shopping
- OS Mapping Skills
- Rivers and Flooding
- Mapping Europe
- The Carajas Programme, Brazil
- Energy, People and Resources
- Map Projections and Mapping My World
- Tectonic Processes
- Tropical Rainforests
- Development and Globalisation
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, and the living conditions in Brazilian Favelas. They also visit Rushall Farm, 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. 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
Paper 1, which examines the Physical Geography units, is worth 37.5%. Topics covered are The Restless Earth, Water on the Land, Ice on the Land and the Challenge of Weather and Climate.
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 Gloucester and the Year 11 visit to the Jurassic Coast 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
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 World cities, Development and Globalisation, 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 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 life. It is impossible to conceive of rounded human beings who have not grasped the fundamentals of Geography”
Film Director and Chair of the General Teaching Council