Reforms announced today, 18 December 2014, by the Department for Education (DfE) to the content of A Level geography include a welcome rebalancing of human and physical geography topics as well as a greater emphasis on the understanding of key geographical concepts and processes.
The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is particularly pleased that the new A Level requires all specifications to contain balanced core content that emphasises the understanding of social, economic and environmental processes and how they shape and change communities, places, regions and landscapes. The core content centres on the study of landscape systems, water and carbon cycling, global geopolitics and governance, and changing places.
The Society is also pleased to see a requirement that the 40% ‘optional’ content, proposed by the individual Awarding Organisations, must include the study of human-environment interactions.
The new A Level, to be taught from September 2016, builds in good progression from content at GCSE level, and is relevant both to students who end their geographical studies at A Level and to those who pursue studies at university in geography and a range of other subjects.
The Society strongly supports the introduction of an independent investigation at A Level, which will develop students’ fieldwork and geographical skills as well as help prepare them for progression on to higher education. The identification of a ‘minimum requirement’ for fieldwork at AS and A Level will strengthen fieldwork in many schools.
The Society’s Director, Dr Rita Gardner, was a member of the geography panel set up by the A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCAB). In response to today’s announcement she said: “The AS and A Level reforms for geography complete a systematic review of the curriculum from Key Stage 1 to 5 in this most important subject. It is very refreshing to see subject knowledge placed at the heart of the curriculum, a good level of demand introduced into the content, a central role for fieldwork and geographical analysis, and clear progression in learning built into the whole suite of reforms. It is essential that young people today understand the changing world and the drivers of those changes, locally and globally. It is important too that they and are inspired by the world’s diversity, interconnectedness and beauty, and the need to sustain it as the home of humankind.”
The Society agrees with ALCAB’s view, stated in their letter to the DfE, that there will need to be significant support for teachers since some of the required content, the confident teaching of quantitative methods and geographic information skills, and the demands of individual investigations will be new and challenging for many geography teachers.
1. For further media enquires please contact Caitlin Watson, Head of Public Engagement and Communications, on 020 7519 3008 or firstname.lastname@example.org
2. The Society’s Director, Dr Rita Gardner, was a member of the A Level Content Advisory Board’s (ALCAB) geography panel (http://alcab.org.uk/).
3. “[…] concentrated work on teacher development, and the preparation of high quality resources, will be required to equip teachers to teach the new subjects in the timetable envisaged” p2 of letter from Professor Nigel Thrift, Chair of ALCAB, to the Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, dated 18 November 2014.
4. The Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective by developing, supporting and promoting geography through research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, and public engagement, while also providing geographical input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer' www.rgs.org
5. The Society’s Geography in the News website (www.geographyinthenew.rgs.org) provides up-to-date cases studies, expert interviews and online lectures which support A Level geography
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