With the weather station in its new position you can now visit the new weather station page to see what the pupils and staff of LRGS are braving today.
“What is our knowledge worth if we know nothing about the world that sustains us, nothing about natural systems and climate, nothing about other countries and cultures?” (Jonathan Porritt, Forum for the Future).
“What other subject tells us so much about the great issues of the age – global change, natural and human?” (Prof Andrew Goudie, University of Oxford).
“Geography makes us aware that we must think globally.”
(Bill Giles OBE, Head, BBC Weather).
The importance of Geography in the world today
Geography provokes and answers questions about the natural and human worlds, using different scales of enquiry to view them from different perspectives. It develops knowledge of places and environments throughout the world, an understanding of maps, and a range of investigative and problem-solving skills both inside and outside the classroom. As such, it prepares pupils for adult life and employment. Geography is a focus within the curriculum for understanding and resolving issues about the environment and sustainable development. It is also an important link between natural and social sciences. As pupils study geography they encounter different societies and cultures. This helps them realise how nations rely on each other. It can inspire them to think about their own place in the world, their values, and their rights and responsibilities to other people and the environment.
The Geography Department at LRGS
There is a great tradition of studying geography at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. It is one of the most popular option subjects at GCSE with over 100 students in both Fourth and Fifth Year, and over 40 students in each year of A-level. Over recent years examination results have been excellent: In 2007 the percentage of A*/A at GCSE was 80.6% while at A-level the percentage of A/B grades was 87.2%. Many students go on to study geography or geography related subjects at university.
With six specialist geography teachers and five designated teaching classrooms, the department is well placed for teaching the subject to the highest standards. We also benefit from being in probably the best location within the UK to study geography. Within a short distance, we have access to the coast of Morecambe Bay, the limestone (karst) of the Yorkshire Dales, the glaciated scenery of the Lake District National Park, the heather moorlands of the Forest of Bowland, and the vibrant city of Manchester not to mention the immediate surroundings of Lancaster and its environment.
The Geography Department is a forward-thinking department, trying to provide a relevant geographical education for the 21st century. New initiatives in recent years have included a biannual A-level fieldtrip to Iceland, the setting up of an LRGS automatic weather station website and a very productive partnership with Global Link, a Development Education Centre in Lancaster.
Our overall aim is to stimulate student curiosity, interest and enjoyment of Geography. We hope we can achieve this.
With six specialist geography teachers, there are few schools that can offer such a wealth of experience in geography and geography teaching.
Andrew Talks is the Head of Department. He thinks the world of geography and enjoys the opportunity to share his passion inside and outside the classroom. Having lived in Kenya and India, and travelled to many remote and interesting places he brings knowledge of ‘real geography’ to his lessons. He graduated from Durham University with a BSc (Hons) and completed a PGCE at Cambridge University. He enjoys photography, open boating (canoeing), anything outdoors, allotment gardening and travel both near and far.
Ian Ledward graduated from Aberystwyth University with a Bsc Hons in Physical Geography; he also developed an interest in mountaineering during his four year stay in Wales. He is master in charge of cricket at the school and also coaches rugby. He believes that Geography is a dynamic subject, enabling us to appreciate the evolution of our environment. His passion for the subject was inspired by living in Zimbabwe for most of his childhood. His ancestry can be traced back to ancient Greece.
Kathryn Page BA (Hons) Geography; University of Portsmouth, PGCE; Southampton University, Advanced Certificate in Education; St Martin’s College.
Kathryn is experienced in both primary and secondary school teaching. In addition to being a teacher of Geography, she is Co-ordinator of the InspirUS programme and Head of First Year and Transition at LRGS. She has written GCSE revision guides for the BBC and has previously worked in bookshop management.
Robin Thompson is a graduate in Psychology (BSc) from University of Durham. Here he also studied Geography. In the geography department at LRGS he specialises in the teaching of Human Geography to A2. He is versatile and also teaches History, Psychology for General Studies, the ‘Know Yourself’ component of the lower sixth Life course, and rowing. He is Involved with European links, website development, the Boat Club (Rowing) and Armchair Generals Society.
Ian Whitehouse started at LRGS in September 1982. His great passion is sport. There isn’t much that Mr Whitehouse doesn’t know about rugby and cricket. He coaches the U15 A XV rugby team and the 1st XI cricket team. Having spent many years as a boarding master, he is now Master in charge of pastoral and boarding across the school. As a geographer, he brings a wealth of experience and an uncanny knack of forecasting the weather.
Geography - 11+
Key Stage 3
The aim of the LRGS Geography Department at KS3 is to enthuse students about geography and to make them aware of the relevance of the subject in today’s changing world. Following the new KS3 national curriculum for geography allows students at LRGS to develop a sound knowledge and understanding of the subject. The curriculum has been developed to make full use of our local geography and the place of Lancaster in the world.
In First Year, they consider the UK with an emphasis on Lancaster and the local region. In Second Year, the course looks at Europe and the European Union including a close look at Italy. In Third Year, within the theme of world geography, the fast-developing country of India is examined. Throughout, key skills are emphasised including, Ordnance Survey map work, latitude and longitude, use of an atlas, presentation of data on maps and in graph form, and the development of language. Students are given the opportunity to work in groups and to present ideas in class. Information and Computer Technology (ICT) forms an integral part of the course.
To allow students to focus on key areas of modern geography, students in the first three years complete two National Curriculum assignments each year. Examples of the work carried out include: In First Year the controversy surrounding wind farms in the local area. In Second Year we debate proposals to build a new nuclear power station at Heysham. In Third Year Millennium Development Goals provide a theme in the context of international development studies.
To develop the student’s full appreciation of the subject the Geography Department at LRGS is a strong believer in field trips. These are organised for each year group in the local area. In First Year students explore the limestone scenery near Clapham and Ingleborough; in Second Year flooding and flood management is the theme for a fieldtrip to the river Wyre; and in Third Year we visit the Lake District National Park where an investigation examines the development of the glacial scenery and the management of tourism. The current textbooks used are Geography 360 by Heinemann.
11+ Extra-curricular Projects
The LRGS Geography Department is involved in a range of extra-curricular projects directly and indirectly. Two activities stand out at present: Think Global Week in the summer term aims to just do that and challenge students to think about the wider world, and the Glenridding adventure for first year students.
What are the particular skills required in First Year?
Map reading, map making, model making, photography, an interest in food (food miles), and a willingness to explore caves (first year field trip)!
What are the particular skills required in Second Year?
A knowledge of Europe, an ability to discuss issues like immigration and nuclear power, and a willingness to get wet on a fieldtrip! Geographers have two geography lessons a week, and one homework per week.
Geography - 13+
After studying the local area and the UK in the First Year, Europe in the Second Year, Third Year students of geography go on to study the world! Themes include: mapping the world, natural hazards including tropical hurricanes/cyclones, global warming, tropical rainforests, world development, India, and polar environments (Antarctica and the Arctic).
Students are encouraged to develop good study skills, an ability to work as part of a group, and good communication skills. ICT work includes the use of Publisher, PowerPoint, Excel and Word. Geography is a popular choice at GCSE with over 100 students studying geography in Fourth and Fifth Year. There are five sets in Fourth Year at present.
A fieldtrip begins the Fourth Year with the objective of encouraging the students to think about the relevance of geography to the real world. The teaching then emphasises the necessary study skills and standard of work that will ensure enjoyment and examination success at the end of Fifth Year. The GCSE course is broadly based. It involves the study of contemporary themes such as the interaction between people and the natural environment, the management and exploitation of natural resources, the growth and development of cities and issues surrounding the economic relationships between the developed and less developed world. Teaching builds on the work covered in First to Third Year but endeavours to take the students further in their knowledge and understanding of geographical topics. The examination course followed is the highly regarded AQA syllabus A and includes a geographical study, the subject of which contributes 25% towards the final grade.
13+ Extra-curricular Projects
In recent years the Geography Department has entered geographers in the national worldwise quiz competition.
Which GCSE exam board do you follow?
Students at GCSE study the AQA A Geography specification.
How is the coursework organised?
Currently it is teacher lead and based on Lancaster’s urban morphology. Students are given guidance and short-term deadlines.
Geography - Sixth Form
Sixth Form Curriculum
At AS Level and A2 students follow AQA Specification B. The AS course builds on the foundation of GCSE examining core themes within physical and human geography. Physical geography considers rivers and their drainage basins, mid-latitude weather, and glaciation largely within the UK context. Human geography looks at population and resources, changes in the UK in the last 30 years, and urban change in the UK and wider world in the last 30 years. A number of local field trips take place during the year with visits to Manchester, Great Langdale Valley in the Lake District, Thornton Force and the River Conder.
At A2 level the modules studied include Module 4, global change, Module 5, the synoptic decision-making module, and Module 6, the practical paper. Here an emphasis is placed on developing understanding and in-depth knowledge of a wide range of topics from the volcanoes and earthquakes to the Geography of AIDS. Students are expected to read around the subject and see application to the world around them. Skills of decision making and fieldwork techniques are an important part of this final year.
Overall Geography at LRGS offers students a wealth of opportunities to further their knowledge and understanding in a changing world. Through a combination of stimulating teaching, fieldwork, and encouragement to enjoy the subject, it is hoped that students find geography at LRGS rewarding.
Sixth Form Extra-curricular Projects
Through the Action Plan for Geography and the RGS, this year a university student was invited to inform Lower Sixth students about Geography at University. Sixth Form geography students at LRGS are also invited to the occasional geographical lecture in the school by an invited speaker.
Sixth Form FAQs
Do I need to have studied Geography at GCSE in order to do A-level?
Usually yes. A B grade or higher is the expected level of attainment at GCSE.
How big is the step from GCSE to A-level?
The step up to A-level from GCSE is evident and should be appreciated, but within the grasp of those who are willing to work hard. No A-level is easy!
How is the A-level course different to GCSE?
Expectations sums up the difference. There is an expectation that students organise themselves effectively, devote time to academic study and engage with the subject in a critical and thoughtful way.
Is there any coursework at A-level?
No is the short answer. Write-ups follow fieldtrips
Is there any fieldwork at A-level?
At A-level a number of field trips directly relevant to the course are carried out. A biannual trip to Iceland has been a great success in recent years.