Geography GCSE (9-1) specifications

In this Teaching Geography article, Bob Digby examines the changes in GCSE geography and gives an overview of each draft specification. He gives advice about selecting a GCSE specification.

You may find this table (PDF) helpful when you are choosing your specification. What is important for your department, tour school and your students? This sheet will be helpful as you embark on planning your GCSE course.

Download the table embedded right here.

Links to the specifications

AQA

Edexcel Geography A

Edexcel Geography B

Eduqas (A and B)

OCR (A and B)

Top Tips for choosing your GCSE specification’

The GA Secondary Phase Committee have provided these helpful tips for you to consider when you are choosing your GCSE specification.

Choosing a specification

  • Be open to change – don’t base your decision solely on sticking with the board that your department has always used.
  • Involve the whole department in your decision.
  • Identify a list of ‘must haves’ before choosing your specification – the individual specifications can then be ranked against this criteria.
  • Consider what is appropriate for you, your students and your department ethos.
  • Ask your students – make use of student voice. For example, ask A level students who have been through the GCSE process to consider which specification would be best.
  • Don’t just look at the specification – also look at the sample assessment material and consider whether or not you like the style of assessment.
  • Look at other aspects of the exam board package including subject support, resources and post-results service.
  • Look at the case studies and examples which are required by each exam board (and know and understand the difference between the two!). See if any of these are obscure.
  • Ring the exam board and speak to the subject specialist with any queries that you may have.
  • Give over a whole department meeting to discuss which spec would be best – provide an overview and give other teachers time to read and digest before discussing the options.
  • Once you have decided upon a specification have a look at the other specifications to see if there are overlaps and therefore adaptable resources.
  • Talk to local Heads of Department to see what they are doing and to share resource planning.
  • Make use of social media e.g. twitter, nings, to share ideas and resources and to ask questions.

Choosing topics to teach

  • Consider whether your students will benefit from a journey (different topics at KS3 / GCSE / A level to avoid repetition) or a spiral curriculum (revisiting topics at various Key Stages to build upon knowledge foundation).
  • Consider the different strengths of your department
  • Ask your students which topics they like the look of.
  • Think about topics that you already do and the resources or lessons that you could simply adapt to the new specification.
  • Consider the fieldwork opportunities that you have and choose topics to support these.
  • Consider choosing topics that are closely linked – for example Cold Environments and Glaciation are both options which overlap.
  • Encourage ‘physical’ and ‘human’ geographers to work together in planning resources and lessons – go one step further and ask your ‘physical’ geographers to teach the ‘human’ units and vice versa!

 

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