Mr McCandless – Head of Department
‘Geography is the subject which holds the key to our future’
Welcome to Geography at Ballycastle High School. We aim to:
Stimulate pupil’s interest in their surroundings and in the variety of physical and human conditions on the earth’s surface.
Foster their sense of wonder at the beauty of the world around them.
Help them to develop an informed concern about the quality of the environment and the future of the human habitat.
Enhance their sense of responsibility for care of the earth and its peoples (sustainable development).
Equip pupils with the geographical knowledge which will enable them to comprehend some of the major issues facing mankind.
We believe that geographical education in our school will:
Help pupils develop an independent, enquiry based approach to learning.
Promote competence in graphicacy and develop the skills associated with observation, collection, analysis and interpretation of data.
Build an understanding of place and location.
Encourage pupils to take an interest in local geographical issues and the relation of these to national and international issues.
Develop key skills in ICT, Communication + Using Maths.
Develop empathy and an understanding of the feelings of others.
Encourage pupils to care for their local environment and understand the global consequences of local action (or inaction).
Create a classroom ethos in which pupils may develop self-esteem, self-confidence and self- discipline.
Encourage the development of open and enquiring minds, with respect for the opinions and attitudes of others.
Challenge pupils’ preconceptions and help them develop an awareness of inequality.
Enable pupils to achieve their full academic potential.
Geography at this level follows the Northern Ireland curriculum.
We believe in making the teaching of Geography fun and enjoyable for all pupils. It is also important to make
it relevant to their everyday lives. That is why we periodically ‘stop the clock’ during lessons to teach the pupils about relevant, up-to-date issues that are affecting out shared world.
As pupils move through the Key Stage, opportunities exist to allow pupils to build up their knowledge of maps and places. Each year group also has the opportunity to conduct enquiry-based work. The skills built up over the 3 years in project work, provide a sound basis to go on and complete further studies at GCSE + A-Level
The pupils follow the CCEA Syllabus at present for their GCSE Geography course.
The Department has been using this exam board for a number of years now, and colleagues have built up a wealth of expertise on its content, delivery and examinations.
Pupils study 8 themes at GCSE. The Physical components are all undertaken in Year 11, initially starting with River Environments. This topic is studied at KS3, and subsequently should be fresh in the pupil’s memory. The Human components are started around Easter of Year 11, focusing on Population + Migration. Pupils undertake their field study in May / June and continue this work into Year 12.
The nature of this piece of work has changed over recent years; however, the underlying principles of geographical enquiry still remain.
A major component of our studies at KS4 focuses upon Case Study material and we are continually updating our resources to ‘keep up with the times’. Making Geography interesting, relevant and up-to-date is crucial, and all members of the Department are committed to this goal. Other specific teaching strategies include: active learning, textbooks, using resource materials, critical thinking, discussions, group work, map work, case studies, DVDs, ICT based learning, online learning, role play, games – starters and plenaries, problem solving, mysteries, and assignments.
This specification tends to follow on from their GCSE studies and builds upon the foundations laid at that level. There is a huge emphasis on the Case Study material and the syllabus is very much content driven. Staff would normally teach either the Physical or Human Geography – Mr McCandless tends to follow the Physical Geography route. The coursework component at AS Level is assessed in the exam paper, and as a result, pupils must take part in the fieldwork process as part of this assessment. There are a great variety of skills undertaken as part of this process: cartographic, presentational, descriptive, + analytical.
Pupils follow the CCEA Syllabus for their A-Level Geography course.
As with GCSE, the Department has been using this exam board for a number of years.
There have been a number of changes to the specification recently. There is a strong link with Cross and Passion College at A Level, and it is hoped this collaboration may go from strength to strength.