Well, here we are again, another term and another year down in sunny Dorset at Gillingham School. This will be my thrid year at Gillingham School, and I am starting to feel that the changes we started two years ago are starting to ripple through the school. As a very succesful department we have seen our GCSE and A Level results once again show us we have brilliant students who are thriving in Geography. This has not been easy by any means. We could rest on out laurels but that it not the ‘Gillingham Way’ nor the ‘Geography Way’. So as a department we have outlined five target areas we want to develop as the year progresses;
The primary target for improvement this year revolves around teaching & learning once again within Geography. We are proud of Geography’s achievements over the years but we do not want to be complacent and we must focus on our own teaching and how the students learn. As a Department we want to teach the best we can and we are looking at our lessons and seeing where we can make improvements and implementing new teaching strategies. We must make our teaching experience more personal for the students and improve their independent study skills.
With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 must be a priority in the upcoming year. We do seem to be on a continuous cycle of rewriting, but we must not forget the building blocks of a successful education. Key Stage 3 can be sometimes be forgotten about in this world of examinations at KS4 and 5. The young students at KS3 need the skills and knowledge to help them in their later geography education. The current Schemes of Work are good but are sometimes too long in length and do not always motivate and enthuse the students as much as we would like. We are currently devising eight topics containing eight lessons for each year group. This would enable free time for us to look at world events that take place i.e. Geography Awareness Week, Fairtrade Fortnight, Japanese earthquake etc. The topics we have discussed so far have been using some of the current lessons and new ideas we are developing.
Geography has prided itself on using technology where possible to improve our lessons and the student experience. This needs to be further developed to further enhance our learning and the students. We would like to see additional Smart Boards across a further two classrooms in the next 1-3 years. This will enable us to develop materials (using Boardworks) to increase motivation across all Key Stages.
With the new syllabus changes at GCSE and A level a key skill that needs to be developed is the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). GIS must be developed within the Department across all year groups. A member of the Department will require training and facilitate this into our schemes of work.
AFL is a very important skill and is an area where we could develop within Geography. As teachers we are sometimes too controlling and we must put the onus back on the students for them to achieve. Investigating methods and ways of implementing this into our schemes of work must be one of our priorities. This will encourage student learning and raising achievement across all year groups. AFL will also help improve the student’s knowledge of using a mark scheme and what to include in a good
answer. This will reduce our marking and in the long term our workload.
As teachers we must be more reflective of our own practice and make amendments where we need to. We must utilise our strengths and work on our areas of development. Observations are vitally important to watch other teachers and how students learn. This would be ideally done within the Department and with other Departments once a term where possible. This should therefore improve our own teaching and benefit the students .Working with other colleagues will help develop cross curricular opportunities to raise achievement throughout the school.