‘The study of geography is about more than just memorizing places on a map. It's about understanding the complexity of our world’

Barack Obama former US President

Geography is the study of our Earth’s landscapes, its peoples, places and environments. It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live. Our aim at Westhoughton is to develop a sense of place and to develop an awareness of a selection of contrasting physical and human environments. Geography gives an insight into the relationships between people and the environment and how each affects the other and to comprehend the concept of sustainable development. Geography enables students to foster a sympathetic understanding of some of the major issues of social concern such as social challenge and urban opportunities.

The Department prides itself on making the Geography we teach both interesting and relevant to pupils of the 21st century. This has been recognised at National level with the Secondary Geography Quality Mark from the Royal Geographical Association. We aim to develop skills of critical enquiry as well as a firm understanding of concepts through a variety of key questions. The opportunity for fieldwork and practical experience is seen as an important part of the learning experience and the Department is committed to providing a varied programme that involves work at home and abroad.

We encourage all pupils to appreciate how actions and decisions made at a local level can have global implications; as a consequence there are frequent lively discussions on themes as varied as the management and conservation of extreme environments to the creation of sustainable communities in modern cities.

Key Stage 3

What will I learn?

Throughout Years 7-9 every student will gain a knowledge of world place and understand Britain’s place in the real world. Students will be given opportunities and encouragement to ask questions, think critically and produce reasoned arguments in order to create solutions. Learning about the world they live in will hopefully, develop an awe or wonder of the physical world. By relating all topics to the real world and current events, it will generate a passion for discovering other places and learning about the lives of people there. Throughout the Key Stage the foundations are laid for the knowledge and skills required at GCSE level.

What will I do?
Year 7

What is Britain – An introduction of the cultural, geological and historical makeup of the British Isles

21st Century Transport – Issues surrounding communications, increasingly globalising world, challenge of airport expansion, sustainable transport solutions
Local level enquiry work

Map Skills aka Geography how you remember it!!
Grid references, scale, distance and direction, symbols, relief and height and OS map making.

Physical landforms - rivers and glacial – features and characteristics of the river basins; challenge of water management and the future of water.

Glacial landscapes - a look at post glacial landscapes within the UK and how the landscape has been sculpted by Ice 

Year 8Places of Wonder
Fantastic Places – a study of the most unusual corners of our planet including the mystery of Stonehenge, the development of Las Vegas, the wonder of Svalbard and the strange happenings in Death Valley.

Impossible Places
Should a place exist?? Examining the toxic city of Pripyat, the roof of the World in Nepal and consequences of the government decisions in China.

Disappearing World
Focus on the World’s major ecosystems and the challenges they face.
The UK’s ecosystem with local fieldwork.
Spotlight on the contrast between Tropical Rainforests and the Hot Deserts.

Paradise lost 
A look at the growth of tourism over time and the positive and negative impacts it has as an industry on the People, the Economy and the Environment
Year 9

A look at how countries grow over time and how their development is measured

Urban Issues
Growth of urban areas and their dominance over the life choices of everyone.
Focus on the contrast between the Newly Emerging Economy of Nigeria. The opportunities and challenges arising from the rapid growth in the city of Lagos.
Compared with the Post-Industrial economy of Greater Manchester. Recent changes to Manchester are analysed and attempts to solve social problems and urban decay are evaluated.

Natural Hazards
Location of a variety of hazards such as volcanoes and earthquakes and their impacts on different societies.
Cataclysmic events and modelled by role play. Student are encouraged to model and be creative. These have been entered to national level competitions and have been successful at winning first prize.

The UK region
Issues facing the UK including increasing weather hazards and climate change, coastline challenges and the changing political map.

Key Stage 4

Currently we offer GCSE Geography studying the AQA specification.

What will I learn?

GCSE Geography has consistently been one of the most popular subjects chosen by students for GCSE. This is principally due to the enthusiasm and expertise of the Department’s Geographers, all of whom are experienced examiners for AQA. Their approach to the subject is based upon the philosophy that Geography can and should be understood and enjoyed by all, and that students and teachers alike are engaged in an endeavour to think independently, research topical events and problem solve

At GCSE levels, pupils follow AQA specification, and they are exposed to a balanced diet of human and physical modules so students will be better informed of the world around them. In addition, geographical skills and fieldwork add depth to their understanding.

What will I do?
Year 10Physical Landscapes in the UK- River Landscapes – features of the river valley, erosional, transportation and depositional landforms focusing on the River Tees; The challenges of flooding and strategies used to mitigate it.
The physical fieldwork topic which takes place off site and includes all students participating in the collection of data.

The Challenge of Resource Management
Global distribution of the fundamental resources and the issues worldwide of supply and demand; focus shifts towards the Energy challenge and what the 21st Century will demand.

Physical Landscapes in the UK - Glacial Landscapes in the UK
Identifying the features of glaciated upland landscapes, processes which formed them and focusing in on the Lake District region.
The impact of tourism and the issues it creates are examined in the second piece of fieldwork, which involves all students collecting data off site in the village of Grasmere.

The Living World
Ecosystems and food webs both locally and globally. In depth enquiry into the Tropical Rainforest Ecosystem and the challenges it faces balancing the opportunities it creates with the preservation of the ecosystem. Focus is on the Amazon rainforest in South America.
Contrasted with the Cold environments ecosystem and the unique challenges it faces in the Alaskan and Antarctic environments.

The latter summer term’s focus is the fieldwork and subsequent presentation, interpretation, analysis and evaluation of their data collected.
Year 11

Urban Issues and challenges
Opportunities and challenges created by rapid urban growth; the impact on a Newly Emerging Economy and the solutions to the effects. Focus based around Nigeria and Brazil.
The changing UK cities and their shift towards more sustainable urban living concentrating on issues for the future – waste recycling and management, traffic and congestion, water conservation, green spaces and energy conservation. Focus based more locally on the city of Manchester.

Economic World
Measuring development and the gap between the ‘have and have nots’, examining the growth of population and causes of the uneven development and strategies to rectify it. Building on prior knowledge of the Nigerian region and the role transnational corporations play there. This is compared to the UK, our development and the position of the UK and the North has in the changing economics of our post Europe role.

The Challenge of Natural Hazards
Tectonic hazards with a closer study of volcanoes, how they impact humans living alongside them, preparations for an eruption and responses to an event. Drawing comparisons between a Low-Income Country and a High-Income Country.
Weather hazards and global circulation of the air we breathe. How tropical storms form, their impacts on humans and a UK extreme weather event.
Climate change – the evidence for it, what causes it (both human and natural) and managing the effects and mitigating for the future.

Geography prepares for the world of work - geographers, with their skills of analysis are highly employable!

Michael Palin explorer

Not only does Westhoughton have the Royal seal of approval but the subject does too. The future King of England, the Duke for Cambridge, has a Geography degree from St Andrew’s University 2005.