"Geography is the study of the earth's landscapes, peoples, places and environments. It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live."

The four strong geography team at Vandyke are all passionate geographers with their own areas of specialism. As a team, we aim to create a lifelong interest in geography and to inspire all pupils to investigate the world around them, to stimulate a sense of awe and wonder about places and to help them make sense of the rapidly changing world around them.

We aspire to engage all students through excellent teaching and interesting topics of study. Geographers at Vandyke will become more confident independent learners through fieldwork and will have confidence to actively question the world around them. 

Geography builds on a range of skills, developing students' abilities to use distinctive hands-on tools to open their eyes to the beauty and wonder of the world around them. These transferable skills help to equip students with lifelong learning as responsible global citizens.

Year 9

As part of the year 9 curriculum geography is taught by geography specialists and designed to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need as a foundation for the new rigour GCSE course.

Topic 1 – Global threats

This topic is designed to enable students to develop their knowledge of place and of physical aspects of the world. They will study threats which affect different countries around the world such as climate change, earthquakes, tsunami, avalanches and floods. Within this topic they will also fine tune their atlas and map skills readying themselves for the GCSE skills later in their geographical careers.

This unit will build upon baseline knowledge of hazards which pupils study in middle school and hopefully spark their interest in the world around them.

Topic 2 – Africa

For the new GCSE, students need to have a solid understanding of the continent of Africa. The difference in wealth, the growth of megacities and the changes of technology and medicine which are showing positive improvements across the continent.

This unit will also consist of a decision making exercise which will allow students to form opinions based on evidence provided to them. They will then answer GSCE style questions to access their understanding and to examine their ability to evaluate and discuss.

Topic 3 – Amazing Places

This unit coves both physical and human geography. We will consider some of the amazing physical landscapes of the world such as coral reefs, Polar Regions as well as deserts and rainforests. While also considering some of the amazing man-made world features such as megacities.  

Topic 4 – Geographical skills enquiry

The New GCSE requires students to be confident in their Geographical skills of map reading and fieldwork – throughout this section of the course students will use full size OS maps and start basic fieldwork enquiry to get the GCSE ready.

Topic 5 – Violence of the world

One of the most interesting modern topics covered in geography is how climate change, rise in wealth and populations has created world conflicts. This unit will investigate the rise in refugee camps, the continual rise in water conflicts and other resource conflicts such as oil and deforestation. Branching out into acts of terrorism and cultural clashes. For those students who have already chosen to study History as an option they will be able to make comparisons between modern and past conflicts and find the similarities which arise again and again.

This unit is perfect for geographers and historians regardless of their GCSE choice for September.


Geography at GCSE is an extremely popular subject option with well over 200 students currently studying in years 10 and 11, numbers which are growing year on year. We encourage pupils to consider both Geography and History as an option at GCSE as both have outstanding teaching and a track record of good results.

Year 11

Year 11 are studying for the new 9-1 AQA geography GCSE. As this is a new course few online resources exist but the AQA website does have a small set of sample papers students can practice from.

For their exam in the summer of 2018 they will be sitting 3 papers on the following topics (below are their named examples):

Paper 1 

  • Natural hazards – volcanos (Montserrat 1995 and Iceland 2010) Hurricane Sandy, Somerset levels floods, climate change impacts.
  • Living world – ecosystems, Malaysian Rainforest, Thar Desert, Epping Forest
  • Rivers – local field work (River Chess), UK River (River Severn)
  • Coasts - Holderness

Paper 2

  • Urban challenges – NEE (India -Mumbai) HIC (UK – London)
  • Changing UK economy
  • Resource management
  • Food 

Paper 3

  • Section A – Will comprise of a pre-release which we will get approximately 10 weeks before the exam. Students will be expected to understand the topic, read around its themes then answer questions on it in the exam.
  • Section B – Fieldwork; Over the two years students will have to complete 2 days of fieldwork which they will then be tested on in the exam. They will be expected to revise their hypothesis, methods, risk assessment, results, conclusions and evaluation for both days to be successful in this section.

Year 10

Year 10 are studying the same as year 11 and the topics can be found in the information above.

The new specification has a larger focus on geographical skills and pupils understanding of place. This requires pupils to be more familiar with maps and countries of the world; a geographical skill which has been declining with the rise of smart phones.

As this course develops we will publish guidance sheets and activities to help advance these skills.

Field trips

One UK residential and one international trip are available to GCSE Geogrpahers over the course of their GCSE. This year we are running a trip to the New Forest in November 2017 to achieve the John Muir Conservation Award. We are also running a trip to Iceland in Febraury 2018. This trip is becoming more expensive each year and an alternative international trip is being investigated; location TBC.

Students at GCSE are also required to complete two days of fieldwork. We are currently running a 'Rivers day' through the Field Studies Council which has a cost of £35. We are looking for a cheaper alternative for 2018 trips. As well as a day trip to London Olympic park which costs approx. £16 (depending on bus and educational tour provider).

The cost of these is voluntary but as a school we simply cannot fund them ourselves – if costs are not met, the fieldtrips will be in Leighton Buzzard.

A' Level

The A' Level from 2016 onwards is a two year A' Level course with no AS option; our exam board is Edexcel. Students will study a range of human and physical topics with specialist subject teachers.

There are four units to the A' Level course, one of which is an independent investigation which must include research from a fieldwork perspective (the exam board specifies students must do a minimum of four days fieldwork over the two years). As a school we will run a one day trip to Birmingham to study regeneration and a residential trip to study coasts. Students will be required to pay for these trips or run their own fieldwork days providing full evidence for the exam board. Students are encouraged to return to our fieldtrip locations to carry out further fieldwork if required.

Course specification and topics can be found on the Edexcel website.

Parental Advice

Here are some ways you can support your child in their geographical studies at Vandyke:

- Aid your children in their knowledge of geographical place by learning the names of countries, capitals and places they have been or are going to and helping them to place them onto a map.

- Allow them access to a good national newspaper that covers world issues in depth - “The Guardian” and “The Independent”are both especially good in this respect, particularly when it comes to environmental matters. Whilst it is true that both papers have online versions, and “The Guardian” is in the library daily, subscribing to one or other of these at home would be an excellent support. The online versions are at: and

- It is also vital that your son or daughter has access to a good World Atlas that is detailed and as up to date as possible. Downloading ‘Google Earth’ and ‘Google Maps’ is also worthwhile.
The following two sites are the main associations in the UK for Geography - students can find up-to-date coverage of topical issues, join the associations, enter competitions and participate in all sorts of other activities: (The Geographical Association) (Royal Geographic Society)

TV programmes such as ‘Panorama’, ‘Cutting Edge’, ‘unreported world’ and ‘Horizon’ (and, of course, the news), often cover issues that are relevant to Geography on a number of levels.

Mapping (Global to local):