Will the UK be facing energy blackouts by 2030? Why is climate change happening and what are the greatest impacts? How will Brexit affect the patterns of migration within the EU? Are earthquake hazards increasing in frequency? Should we be eating meat?

Politicians, scientists, statistical modellers and international organisations are recognising the increasing importance of geography as bridging the gap between scientific understanding and social issues. This continues to be reflected at St Paul’s: geography is popular throughout the school and many alumnae are continuing to utilise the subject in environmental and social jobs.

Geographers in the Lake District

Geography lessons at St Paul’s inspire curiosity about the world. We pursue explanations for current global issues, whilst ensuring that all students have a secure understanding of the key concepts in physical and human geography. Fascinating questions are considered at all levels: Why do we want to understand our location? Why does climate change disproportionately affect women? Students appreciate the dynamic and interconnected nature of our subject and the flexibility we have to study the most recent news events. Lessons are varied and exciting, with students encouraged to develop core skills such as independent research, informed decision-making, debate and creative projects to help students realise the complexities of the problems we face in the 21st century. In a digital age, geography is becoming an ever more interactive subject with the increasing use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Geography is a compulsory subject at Key Stage 3, where students develop their geographical knowledge and skills within a structure of intellectual themes of diversity, change and challenges. We ask questions as varied as ‘How can we explain the changes in polar environments?’ to ‘Should we be worried about global population growth?’. This is supported with cutting-edge technology, such as GIS systems and using VR to better understand a place. All KS3 year groups get to trial geography outside the classroom, with varying day trips across the south of England.

Geography is popular at GCSE due to the range of transferable skills provided through fascinating content. Our GCSE students follow the Eduqas (A) specification, which engages students in a blend of traditional and contemporary geography. This includes new units, such as ‘Environmental Challenges’ which consider how we can and should be protecting our future world. While traditionally geography can be divided into ‘Physical’ and ‘Human’, modern geography considers how understanding the physical environment helps or hinders human interactions (and vice versa). As our world is changing so rapidly, a solid understanding of these processes will be invaluable for future generations.

Students in a glacier in Iceland 2022

Senior School

In the Senior School, A level geography continues to stretch and stimulate the students’ geographical imaginations. The OCR specification gives the students a deep understanding of the contemporary challenges of the 21st century, covering topics such as ‘Hazardous Earth’ and ‘Future of Food’. This course enables learners to recognise and be able to analyse the complexity of people-environment interactions at all geographical scales. The investigative geography component allows the students to undertake an independent investigation linked to any aspect of the specification to satisfy their intellectual curiosity. The majority of A level students have continued to do geography at university over the last few years. The breadth of the subject allows students to find their own strengths and continue with the subject in a highly-employable degree.

Geography comes even more alive outside of the classroom and we provide fieldwork opportunities for all age groups. Recent field trips have included the London Docklands, the Lake District, and Iceland. We encourage our geographers to question and engage with these diverse environments, promoting the essential enquiry-related skills through fieldwork investigations.

Our student-led Geography Society has hosted a number of speakers over the last few years, displaying to students the value of this subject in the workplace. We have enjoyed, for example, a talk by Tim Marshall, author of Prisoners of Geography. Many of our senior students also take advantage of our proximity to the Royal Geographical Society, where they frequently attend events and lectures.

Presentation given to students in the library.

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