Mrs C Chisim (Leader of Learning & Year 9 ALOL)
The Geography Department at the Belfast Model School for Girls is a progressive department having employed a highly effective strategy for using ICT, multi-media and audio learning and teaching within the subject content. Geography is regarded as a very valuable subject by employers. The nightly news is full of stories that involve Geography or need some understanding of Geography. The study of Geography is therefore a popular choice beyond Key Stage 3. with excellent results at GCSE and Advanced Levels.
At Key Stage 3 topics are themed by year group, beginning in Year 8 with investigations of the pupils’ own local environments with a focus on local mapskills, settlements, rainforests and rivers and landscape processes. Field study is promoted within each year group and all Year 8 pupils usually have the opportunity to participate in a field trip to either the River Colin in West Belfast or the Giant’s Causeway.
In Year 9 pupils widen their geographical knowledge beyond their local area with investigations including ‘Into Europe’, weather and climate, tourism and population. The field study for this year group would be focused on local tourism. In the past this has been an open top city bus tour or a visit to Titanic, Belfast.
Year 10 is a crucial year for those hoping to study Geography at GCSE level with a focus on the Restless Earth, which give the students a clear understanding of what is expected at examination standard. Towards the end of the year the students learn Skills and Techniques. This includes statistical and graphical analysis as well as more traditional mapreading. This ensures that all students have transferable skills whether they choose to continue with Geography or not beyond KS3. Pupils are taught from the CCEA GCSE Geography specification in preparation for those continuing their studies in Year 11.
Key Stage 4
The GCSE course is modular with a unit of study focusing on Physical Geography examined at the end of the academic year which continues on from topics began in Year 10. Also in year 11, the girls complete a field investigation within the local community to stimulate inquiry in preparation for their Unit 3 examination in Year 12. In total, by the end of year 11, the students will have completed or prepared 60 % of their GCSE course. Year 12 completes the course with studies of Human Geography focusing on Population, Development and Settlement. To assist in learning the Geography Department use the novel approach of singing their GCSE notes to encourage learning as shown by these examples (Example 1) (Example 2).
Advanced Level Geography is a two year course at Key Stage 5. In Year 13 the students sit three modular examinations, both in the summer series. Physical Geography, Human Geography and Geographical Skills are examined. The final year involves pupils undertaking a study of a Global Issue as part of a Human Geography module which also includes Ethnic Diversity and Population, followed by a Physical Geography module where the students study Tropical Ecosystems, Coastal Environments and apply their Decision Making Skills.
In addition, the Geography department regularly offers the opportunity to participate in national and international educational visits. Most recently in July 2018 we escorted 42 students to Venice and Lake Garda. Previous trips included trips to Krakow in 2017, and in 2015 students were escorted to San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. In October 2015 the A-Level students travelled to London to investigate tourism in the usual tourist locations plus the Olympic Park at Stratford. In March 2016, 35 pupils from Years 9 to 11 were shown the volcanoes, glaciers and Northern Lights in Iceland.