“Geography is the study of the earth’s landscape, peoples, places and environments. It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live.”
There has never been a more fascinating and important time to study Geography. Our world is continuously changing and people have an important role to play in that change. Geography explains the changes and helps to prepare people. Geography is a subject that not only looks to the past, but also investigates the now and most importantly, the future. As Michael Portch explains, “Geography brings us all down to earth. It gives other subjects a sense of place. We create our geography and yet we are all affected by geography”.
Geography at The Hall is about creating a positive learning environment evoking questions and developing life-long independent learners who want to understand the world around them. Our hope is to build an extraordinary learning community that goes beyond the curriculum, fostering a spirit of enquiry and continual improvement. Geography at The Hall is an exciting and relevant subject that draws on children’s experiences and explores topical issues. Our goal is to stimulate the boys’ curiosity and to help them develop their knowledge and understanding of people and places. Within the department we hope to draw on the rich variety of experience and views of the staff to support a coherent and collegiate approach to teaching and learning. Geography lessons at all stages involve teachers supporting students to ask questions and pursue a ‘route to enquiry’. A range of intellectual and practical skills is taught in increasing depth as boys get older, such as: observation, measurement, information selection, interpretation, synthesis, decision-making, and problem solving. Graphical skills are taught including graph selection and presentation, map-work, sketching and diagrammatic representation. Fieldwork is used to teach some of these skills.
In The Junior School, Geography is taught through cross-curricular topic themes (eg. ‘Ourselves’ in Reception). In Key Stage 1, Geography develops boys’ knowledge, skills and understanding relating to their own environment and the people who live there, and encourages an awareness of the wider world. Year 1 topics include Festivals, Continents of the World, By the Seaside and Under the Sea, for example and London, Water and Explorers are the topics for Year 2. In Key Stage 2, pupils build on their prior knowledge and begin to consider people, places and environments at different scales, in the United Kingdom and overseas, and develop an appreciation of how places relate to each other and the wider world.
Fieldwork is an essential way to stimulate boys’ interest in, and a sense of wonder about places. In the Junior School boys partake in a range of enriching visits and activities to enhance and consolidate their learning, including local area walks; visits to The Science Museum and Natural History Museum; National Costume and Food Days; visits to local restaurants; visits from theatre companies; visits to London zoo and London Aquarium; a visit to Tower bridge by river boat; a trip to The Thames Barrier; and orienteering, bug hunting and pond dipping on Hampstead Heath. Increasingly, boys learn to think spatially using maps, visual images and new technologies including geographical information systems (GIS) and I pads, to obtain, present and analyse information. They explore how places and landscapes are formed, how people and the environment interact, and how a diverse range of economies and societies are interconnected. They think about their own place in the world, their values and responsibilities to other people, to the environment and the sustainability of the planet.
In the Junior School Geography days enhance classroom learning and are always popular. The themes for the geography days vary from year to year and have focussed on Recycling and Maps for example, with the most recent day looking at Weather and Climate, where external help, in the form of a BBC weatherman, was used to enthuse and excite the boys about the weather! In the Middle and Senior School, enrichment opportunities are offered in the form of trips and after-school clubs. The most is made of local areas such as Hampstead Heath, Kew Gardens and the Emirates stadium in studying human geography and ecosystems and human geography, and visits further afield, to Swanage and Iceland further consolidate understanding of physical geography gleaned in the classroom. ‘The Geography Ambassadors’ is an enrichment programme for boys in Years 7 and 8, who have a passion for the subject and/or who may be considering a future in a Geography related field. As an Ambassador, the boys have the opportunity to:
- Commit to a structured programme of events including talks, museum visits, debates and workshops exploring Geography in literature and film.
- Write articles for the Geography blog and keep it updated with relevant material
- Be responsible for updating the Geography in the News display board
- Take part (if selected) in the National run ‘World Wise Quiz’ organised by the Royal Geographical Association.
- With teacher assistance lead sessions for young Geographers in the junior and middle schools.