Aim: To further improve KS3 Geography provision and increase the number of students selecting to study GCSE Geography whilst transitioning from a three-year to two-year KS3.
Background: There were concerns that having one year less at KS3 would lead to a reduction in the range of content, and, as a result, a reduction in the number of students choosing to continue with Geography. Uptake was above the national average (35.5%), at around 50%.
The first cohort finished the new two-year KS3 curriculum, and students who had completed both the old three-year curriculum (Years 9-10) and the new two-year curriculum (Year 8) were surveyed about their experiences. 88% of Year 8 students said that they enjoyed Geography even more than they had in Year 7 and GCSE uptake remained high at 49%. Each year group was taken off-site for fieldwork.
Year 2 :
Units identified by students as weaker were reviewed and updated to boost engagement. Links were made with other secondary schools in the area to gain further knowledge and experience, and feeder primaries were surveyed with the aim of better understanding KS1-2 Geography provision to avoid repetition in KS3. More fieldwork was requested, but, due to school restrictions, additional out-of-school trips were not possible so the focus moved to increasing out-of-classroom in-school activities.
KS3 students were given more control over their learning with the chance to vote for a range of different country study options and more independent learning techniques were implemented to make homework more engaging. A homework clinic run by Sixth Formers was trialled but was not used by students due to support materials being made available online. Further links with feeder primaries involved lesson observations and co-planning a transition unit. Year 6 students requested closer links to the Year 7 curriculum to allow them to ‘get ahead’, hopefully boosting engagement in Geography before they start at Hinchingbrooke.
Evidence: Student voice surveys, GCSE uptake.
Impact: There was a very positive response to school-based out-of-classroom activities, and KS3 provision is now more engaging, with both students and teachers enjoying lessons more. GCSE uptake has increased slightly from 49% at the start of the project to 53% at the end, however the introduction of pathways to the options process may impact on this.
Links with feeder primaries have been strengthened and will lead to improved transition for Year 6 students. However; attempts to make links with other secondary schools were overshadowed by the new KS4-5 specifications. We hope that once the introduction of these new curriculums has been completed we will be able to focus on KS3 links.
Reflections: The most enlightening element of this project for us has definitely been the student voice surveys. They have highlighted aspects of Geography provision that we had not considered as teachers. It is also an excellent way to gain detailed feedback on new initiatives and units.
Contact: Kate Moyes, Second in Geography, email@example.com