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Geography KS3 Curriculum

Curriculum Intent 

Our Geography department believes in fostering curiosity about and fascination with our earth’s natural systems and the complex interactions between physical processes and human populations. We have high expectations of behaviour for learning across the department, to ensure all pupils are fully supported in developing a deep understanding of the subject and achieving academic success. 

Our lessons are designed to encourage students to develop a variety of geographical skills, such as numeracy, graphicacy, cartography, and literacy. In Year 7, students are taught foundational geographical skills, in the following years, pupils have the opportunity to revisit these skills with increased complexity and challenge. For example, the cartography skills taught at the beginning of Year 7 are revisited in Year 9 when pupils map tropical cyclones and draw links between geographical location and weather hazards. Additionally, to support pupils in developing geographical literacy, we explicitly teach key terminology, make use of guided reading comprehension tasks, and make reference to geographical literature, such as Prisoners of Geography and Factfullness.

Sacred Heart is committed to the principles and philosophy of High Performance Learning (HPL). In the Geography department, a particular area of focus is enquiry. Through the process of enquiry, we prepare pupils to plan, collect, present and analyse fieldwork data. In doing so, our pupils become intellectually confident and able to apply their knowledge and skills to new contexts and real-world examples. This begins in Year 7 with a local area investigation within Hammersmith and concludes at the end of Year 9 with an investigation into the River Pang in Reading.

One of the five goals of Sacred Heart Education, that the Geography department has chosen to focus on is the goal of Social Awareness that impels to action - becoming an agent of change. As such, our curriculum has many links to the theme of sustainability and investigates a variety of global challenges, such as loss of biodiversity and climate change, to motivate our students to become responsible citizens who are aware of and concerned for society. We have created extra-curricular opportunities for pupils to take action on the climate crisis, with the establishment of Sacred Heart’s first Eco Committee in 2021.

The Geography department creates opportunities for students to work collaboratively with their peers and think critically about a topic or issue, to develop an ability to construct balanced and well-evidenced arguments. This is crucial to ensure our students are prepared for the rigour of writing essays in KS4. For example, following a group task investigating the 1997 volcanic eruption in Montserrat, Year 8 pupils are supported in constructing a balanced argument on whether it is safe to live close to volcanoes.

Sacred Heart is committed to celebrating Diversity and Inclusivity. Our school has a socio-economically diverse student population and the Geography department draws on case studies from a wide range of geographical locations that have relevance to our pupils lived experiences. For example, we study key physical and human features across the continent of Africa in our unit on Development in Year 9, providing an opportunity to address misconceptions and celebrate the diverse physical and human geography of the continent.

Within the Geography department, we use a range of Assessment for Learning strategies to ensure accelerated progress is made. For example, each lesson begins with a ‘Geog your memory’ retrieval practice task, enabling our pupils to identify gaps in knowledge and embed new knowledge into their long-term memories. Our teachers use circulation, skilled questioning, and summary quizzes to address misconceptions and support students’ knowledge and understanding. Following each assessment, students are given dedicated time to respond to feedback and reflect on their strengths and areas of improvement to maximise their progress. 

Geography develops:
  • Strong locational knowledge.
  • A secure understanding of space and place across scales.
  • The ability to recognise the great differences in cultures, political systems, economies, landscapes and environments across local, national and international scales.
  • An understanding of the complexity of our world through the rigorous study of interactions between physical, environmental and human processes.
  • The ability to use geographical skills (cartographical, graphicacy and numeracy) to analyse evidence from photographs, maps, graphs and additional sources.
  • Intellectual confidence based on a student’s ability to analyse data, form an argument, and evaluate the viewpoints of different players and stakeholders.
  • A wider understanding of the world in which we live by understanding the events that shaped different regions and nations, along with an understanding of contemporary issues that will continue to shape places in the future.
  • Literacy – understanding of geographical terminology.
  • Locational knowledge
  • Place, space and scale
  • Interdependence
  • Physical and human processes
  • Environmental interaction and sustainability 
  • Cultural understanding
  • Cartographical
  • Graphicacy
  • Numeracy – analysing qualitative and quantitative data
  • Literacy – using specialist terminology
  • Forming an argument – assessing and evaluating
  • Enquiry 
  • Fieldwork

Modules Taught

Year 7

Introduction to Geography & Map Skills – Students will learn what a geographer is and be able to identify examples of the different types of geography. Students will learn what a cartographer is and gain an understanding of the different types of maps used by geographers. Students will develop their ability to use maps at local, national and international scales. This involves developing students’ map skills – including latitude and longitude, directions, 4- and 6-figure grid references, contour lines, scale and distance, and OS map symbols.

Fieldwork: My Local Area Students will gain an understanding of problems in their local area through an introduction to geographical fieldwork and the enquiry process. Students will relate the problems identified in the local area to their own experiences (e.g., traffic congestion, litter and air pollution). Students will learn how to analyse maps at different scales and begin to understand space and place. Students will develop their ability to create a research question, collect appropriate qualitative and quantitative data, and present and analyse data. Students will also have the opportunity to suggestion solutions to local issues.

Weather and Climate – Students will gain an understanding of the difference between weather and climate and will develop an understanding of the various physical and human processes that affect Great Britain’s climate. In addition, they will strengthen their fieldwork skills by conducting local area fieldwork on microclimates. Students will further develop their geographical skills by developing their ability to construct and analyse climate graphs. Here, students are introduced to the idea of climate change and the need for sustainable development.

Ecosystems and Biodiversity – Students will be introduced to the concepts of biomes and ecosystems and begin to develop an understanding of the interdependence of human and physical processes. Students will deepen their knowledge of sustainability through the study of exploitation and sustainable management of natural resources in South-east Asia’s Tropical Rainforests.

Population – Students will gain a deeper understanding of space and place through their study of the various factors that affect population density, distribution and structure across local, national and international scales. This unit of work will develop student’s knowledge and understanding of the wider world by studying the contemporary issues of overpopulation and migration using case studies including China’s ‘One Child Policy’ and migration across the Mexico/USA border.

Year 8

Tectonic Hazards - Students will develop their understanding of the difference between a natural hazard and a natural disaster. They will study the key physical processes that create geomorphological hazards – with a focus on volcanic eruptions. Students apply their learning to the case study of Montserrat and develop an awareness of the reasons why people choose to live near to volcanoes, and the various social, economic and environmental impacts of a volcanic eruption.

Industry and Economic Activity - Students will gain an understanding of different types of industry and how a country’s level of development relates to its employment structure. Students are introduced to the Clark Fisher model and develop their geographical skills, specifically, their ability to use geographical theories and models as evidence and to analyse graphs. Students apply their knowledge and understanding to look at contemporary issues related to industry – with a focus on the social, economic and environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry in Bangladesh.

Coastal Landscapes - Students will gain an understanding of the core physical processes that shape coastlines across various scales, focusing on the Holderness Coastline in the UK. Students will develop their geographical skills through analysis of OS maps, geological maps and aerial photographs, to support their extended writing with evidence. Students will develop their knowledge of the different approaches to managing coastal recession and flooding, and strengthen their ability to construct a balanced, well-evidence argument about managing coastlines amid the conflicting viewpoints of stakeholders.

Settlements Students are introduced to the terms site and situation, which are used to assess why early settlers chose particular locations for their settlements. Students gain an understanding of urban land use models, such as the Burgess Model, which helps to explain how urban areas in high-income nations are structured. Students compare this model to the Model for a Latin American city and go on to investigate the challenges and opportunities of rapid urbanisation in Brazil’s favelas.

Virtual Fieldwork: Urban Regeneration – Students culminate with a group project where they are tasked with designing a redevelopment scheme for Battersea in south west London. As part of this task, students will complete virtual fieldwork and develop their geographical skills through the creation of an ArcGIS Story Map.

Year 9

Weather Hazards - Students develop their understanding of atmospheric hazards, with a focus on tropical cyclones. Students study the core physical processes that create tropical cyclones and strengthen their geographical skills through the analysis of maps and various other sources. Students apply their knowledge and understanding to the case study of Hurricane Katrina, where they are encouraged to think critically about the preparation, protection and planning prior to this natural disaster. Here, students are also encouraged to think about the impacts of climate change on tropical cyclones.

Global Development – Students are introduced to the idea of the development gap and gain a deep understanding to the varied historical, political, and environmental causes of it. Students are encouraged to further develop their geographical skills through the use of development indicators, atlases and world mapping. Misconceptions about development across the continent of Africa are addressed through an investigation of the variation in standards of living across the continent. Students gain an understanding of solutions that can be used to reduce the development gap and revisit the need for sustainable development.

Prisoners of Geography – Students explore the human and physical geography of Russia and aim to answer the enquiry question ‘Is Russia an exploiter or prisoner of its geography?’. The investigation of Russia’s physical geography includes ‘locating’ Russia across various scales, discussing the importance of the Ural Mountains and investigating Russia’s biomes with a focus on polar deserts. Students then consider the interdependence between the human geography and natural resources that Russia holds, specifically the role of fossil fuels in the development of the economy. Investigation into the human geography of Russia involves discussions around their geopolitical influence, the use of nuclear energy, demographics and whether Russia can be considered a ‘superpower’. 

River Landscapes – Students are introduced to core physical processes shaping river landscapes within the UK. Students also apply their knowledge of coastal management from Year 8 to the context of river landscapes, using the case studies of the River Tay and the 2004 Boscastle floods. Evaluating the best ways to protect settlements from flooding, whilst meeting the needs of various stakeholders.

Fieldwork: Rivers - Towards the end of the unit, students have the opportunity to visit the River Pang in Reading, where they develop their geographical skills by conducting fieldwork. Pupils plan their data collection, collect their data on the fieldwork trip, and finally present, analyse and evaluate their findings back in the classroom.


Year 7
Year 8
Year 9
  1. Map skills assessment test
  2. November examination
  3. Local area fieldwork – letter
  4. Weather and climate paragraph
  5. Weather and climate examination
  6. Ecosystems group task
  7. Summer examination
  1. Pangaea assessment
  2. November examination
  3. Montserrat group task
  4. Industry and economic activity assessment
  5. Coastal landscapes assessment
  6. Settlements assessment
  7. Battersea group task 
  8. Summer examination
  1. Hurricane Katrina essay
  2. November examination
  3. Global Development assessment
  4. Russia group task
  5. River landscapes assessment
  6. Summer examination

Stretch & Challenge

Use of higher order thinking skills, applying processes to different contexts, including counter-arguments

Enrichment Opportunities

Geography library, Eco Committee, GIS club, fieldwork opportunities in each year of KS3