Geography is concerned with the study of places, the physical and human processes which shape them, and the people who live in them. It gives boys a knowledge and understanding of geographical concepts and an appreciation of the relevance of these concepts to our changing world. In Geography lessons at Durston House boys are encouraged to question, investigate and think critically about current and future issues affecting the world and people’s lives. For younger boys, in Pre-Prep and Junior School, Geography is taught through the more generic study of Humanities, whereas for boys in Middle and Upper School it is a discrete subject. In both the Middle School and Upper School, some themes from Junior School are revisited and a ‘ladder learning’ technique is used, which enables pupils to progress and build on prior learning.
Through the course of Year 5, the boys develop their Ordnance Survey map skills and learn about Mountains, Settlement and Volcanoes. Linked to the Settlement unit, boys carry out measurements of traffic and pedestrian flows along a section of Ealing Broadway, through which they gain experience of the geographical fieldwork process at first hand. In Year 6, pupils first learn to locate the UK’s major geographical features. They then begin to study the Common Entrance themes starting with Weather and Climate. Related to this, the boys undertake an independent fieldwork investigation into how and why contrasting habitats have different microclimates. The final topic taught in Year 6 is Coasts.
In Year 7 boys continue with the Common Entrance themes, Population and Settlement and Rivers. At the end of Year 7 the boys’ fieldwork skills are greatly enhanced through a residential Geography Trip to Snowdonia or Castlehead lasting 5 days, during which all boys collect data for their geographical investigation, a requirement for Common Entrance. Year 8 begins with time devoted to completing this investigation, followed by the topics of Earthquakes and Volcanoes and Transport and Industry, which is taught from the Spring Term onwards. Through the course of these two final years there is a renewed focus on learning Ordnance Survey map skills and Global Location. There is also greater emphasis on teaching boys to apply their geographical knowledge and understanding correctly to exam-style questions. In the period following entrance examinations to Senior Schools, the boys begin to learn about the reasons for patterns of global economic inequalities – part of the Development topic, which is a pivotal unit in many KS4 specifications. Teaching methods include presentations, note taking, quizzes, verbal questioning and DVD clips.