Teaching A level from 2016 - Resources

When you have chosen your A level specification there will be plenty of planning to do and resourcing of your course. This planning sheet will be helpful.

Teaching the new independent investigation

The GA supports the re-introduction of a teacher-assessed investigative component, an approach the Association called for throughout the review process (a position widely supported by teachers and academics). Following consultation with the GA, we are also pleased that Ofqual agreed to allow the independent investigation to be assessed by awarding organisations, by teachers or by a combination of the two. This decision recognises the important understanding of the fieldwork context which teachers have, whilst also allowing awarding organisations to build robust arrangements for moderation into their specifications.

This new component presents an opportunity to help students becomes geographers – by developing their first-hand investigative and research skills. But it will also be a challenge – particularly for teachers who do not have experience of Non Exam Assessment (NEA) at this level. The focus of a student’s independence will be on (with one interpretation of what this means for study in italics):

  • defining and developing their own question or issue (students know how to pose meaningful and challenging geographical research questions; they understand how these relate to the content they have learned/are learning; they understand how and why the question relates to a specific fieldwork or place context)
  • collecting data (why they selected specific approaches, including the reason for individual or group work approaches; understand their methodology and how it relates to/provides appropriate data for their investigation; understanding the limitations and particle nature of primary data)
  • gather their own secondary data and incorporate this into their report (knowing and understanding secondary research sources and methodologies; connecting secondary data to their investigation and relating secondary data to primary, including resolving any apparent contradictions)
  • independently contextualising, analysing and draw conclusions (relating their study to their knowledge and understanding of geography content; drawing out concepts and conclusions; using appropriate analytical tools).

All of the above implies considerable skills in researching and report writing, with the outcome a written report of several thousand words. Developing these skills throughout the secondary phase, not waiting until A level to do so, will be essential. Students will need to be taught how to pose relevant questions for investigation, and a range of techniques for conducting both primary and secondary research.

You’ll need to consider whether you use perhaps 2 days in the earlier stages of A level to develop the skills of investigation which will later be required. This approach would allow you to use at least 2 days later on to support the collection of primary data for independent study.


The GA supplies a range of publications that support fieldwork for Post-16 students.

They provide a range of fieldwork techniques and support for analysis and presentation of fieldwork data.

Top Spec Geography is the GA’s cutting-edge series for post-16 geography. It provides up-to-date information on a range of specialist geography topics from AS and A2 specifications. Each of the nine titles in the series have input from leading experts and experienced classroom teachers. Each is supported by online materials.

The following table shows the content coverage of these titles matches the draft specifications.

Draft specifications and related publications


This comprehensive range of DVDs from Pumpkin Interactive specialise in producing up-to-date, high quality, specification-relevant geography DVD resources. The titles provide video case study material from around the world for many of the key areas: Bio-Diversity, Energy, Urban Environments, Population, Coasts, Natural Hazards, Flooding and Migration.

Keep up-to-date with recent research by leading geographers by subscribing to the GA’s international journal, Geography. It includes: specific studies in human and physical geography, enquiries into environmental issues, and investigations of specific places and regions. Subscribers have access to the online archive back to 1901!

Think Piece - This Think Piece, explores some of the issues that face PGCE students in teaching post-16 groups. It provides strategies that can create enquiry-based classrooms for this age group and help to provide consistency with their teaching elsewhere.


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