Geography, History and Languages


The world in which we live is changing rapidly.  Geography explains why, and helps to prepare for these changes.  Geography is a subject that enables students to make sense of their environment and how people interact within it.  The transferable skills which Geography fosters are an asset in the complex world of employment today.  Geography is about the future and encourages flexible thinking.

The Geography Department aim to:

  • Build a learning community that goes beyond the curriculum
  • Foster a spirit of inquiry and continual improvement
  • Draw on the rich a variety of experience and views to support a coherent and collegiate approach to teaching and learning.
  • Nurture links with other schools and departments locally, nationally and globally.
  • Enable each persons continued personal and professional development.

For pupils we seek to stimulate:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the planet Earth and its people
  • Lasting awareness of the world around us
  • Sensitivity and empathy towards all others
  • Tolerance and independent thinking
  • Preparedness to an active citizens role in the changing world.

Geography is one of the most popular subjects at St Margaret ward and a large proportion of our A level students go on to study Geography at University.

Our Year 7 group study:

  • Geography in the news
  • Tourism
  • Extreme weather
  • Natural Hazards
  • Urbanisation
  • Resources and the Environment

Our year 8 group study:

  • Geography in the news
  • Development
  • Population
  • Human impact on ecosystems
  • Mapping the world

Our year 9 group study:

  • Unit 1: Map skills- place knowledge
  • Natural hazards
  • Tectonic hazards
  • Weather hazards
  • Climate change
  • Ecosystems
  • Cold environments
  • Tropical rainforests
  • UK landscapes

Our Year 10 group study:

  • Coastal landscapes
  • Glacial landscapes
  • The urban world
  • Urban change in the UK
  • Urban sustainability
  • The development gap
  • Nigeria – A newly emerging economy
  • The changing UK economy
  • Revision

Our year 11 group study:

  • Resource Management
  • Food/ Energy/ Water Management
  • Fieldwork and issue evaluation
  • Revision

Our year 12 group study:

  • Coasts and regeneratiom
  • Coastal landscapes and change and regenerating places
  • Tectonic processes and hazards and Globalisation
  • Fieldwork for coursework to Devon

Our year 13 group study:

  • Coursework write up
  • Water cycle and water insecurity and superpowers
  • Carbon cycle and energy insecurity and human systems and geopolitics
  • Geopolitics
  • Revision



The department has a long established and passionate commitment to the teaching of history.  We all delight in seeing student making excellent progress in this academic subject.  We have and maintain high expectations of both work and behaviour.  We aim to install a strong work ethic in all those we teach.

As a department we produce student who:

  • Enjoy and see the relevance of history in their lives
  • Understand the progress they are making in the subject
  • Take an active part in their learning
  • Understand that they will find some work challenging and relish this
  • Achieve excellent exam results at GCSE and A Level

At all times, the teachers within the department:

  • Will be consistent in practice and deploy our solid subject knowledge
  • Convey a sense of enthusiasm for the subject taught
  • Employ varying teaching and learning styles
  • Encourage students to question and think about what they are taught.

In Year 7 students study:

  • Ancient history
  • Medieval realms

By the end of Y7 students should have secure knowledge of the history taught.  Additionally they should be able to deal with chronology.  They must also be able to use sources to make a point about the history studied.  Some will be able to compare and contrast sources.  Some will then be able to evaluate using the sources and their own knowledge.  Most should be able to write in a formal style, creating good, balanced answers to extended written questions.

In Year 8 students study:

  • The making of the UK
  • The industrial revolution

By the end of Y8, students should have secure knowledge of the history taught.  Additionally they should understand key moments in the making of the United Kingdom (Including the English Civil Ward) and the impact of industrialisation in the UK.  They should also be able to use sources to make a point about the history studied.   Most will be able to compare and contrast sources.  Some will begin to then evaluate using sources and their own knowledge.

Our Year 9 group study:

  • The world in 1900
  • Causes and consequences of WW1
  • America in the 1920’s
  • The rise of Hitler and the Holocaust
  • Crime and Punishment

Students are taught in line with exam specs (depth study and world study)  Students are assessed using GCSE descriptors.

Students will show learnt knowledge on a range of topics and how to use this knowledge to construct sophisticated answers.

Our year 10 group study:

  • Impact of the Norman Conquest
  • The making of America

These units are examined formally.  Students will show learnt knowledge on a range of topics and how to use this knowledge to construct sophisticated answers to GCSE questions which will form the basis of their assessments and data.  At the end of Year 10, students prepare for the examined unit based upon a local history study currently based around the pottery industry.

Our year 11 group study:

  • Life in Nazi Germany 1933-45

Time is then given over to in depth revision from the spring term onwards

History at A Level consists of the study and public examination of two further units:

– Britain 1951-2007: This looks in depth at the major political, social and economic changes that occurred in Britain.  Everything from the impact of new technologies on society, the miners strike of 1984/5 to the Iraq war are considered.

– America 1865-1975: This study looks at the development of America as world superpower.  Dealing with the major social, economic and political changes that occurred from the era of reconstruction to the end of the Vietnam war.

We also complete a separate 100 year study which leads to an independent piece of work that counts as the coursework element which is done under supervision of staff but requires a degree of independence and allows students to frame their own inquiry within the context of the period studied. 

The department also runs an additional A Level Government and Politics taught by two staff (Mr chance and Mr Bland).  The study comprises learning about the institutions of the UK, debates around voting reform, the constitution, the executive and legislative branches of government and multiple other topics from voter behaviour to pressure groups.  Students also learn about the key ideologies that shape political thought and contemporary political thought.  Students also complete a depth study on the politics of globalisation and its implications for future development of political ideas and instritutions.


Languages - French and German

At St Margaret Ward Catholic College, we firmly believe that knowledge of a modern foreign language is an asset to all students regardless of ability or interests. After all, although English is a very important world language in the 21st century, it definitely isn’t enough. Only 6% of the world’s population speaks English as a first language and 75% don’t speak any English. Indeed, anyone who goes to school in countries where English is not the first language spends significant time learning it. That means that our young people increasingly have to compete with those from other countries who have a least one language in addition to English.

Language learning has an important role to play in developing skills which will stand our young people in good stead to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

Below are just a few good reasons to embrace language learning:

  1. Languages are a life skill. Knowledge of a foreign language is not just another GCSE grade. It is a concrete and demonstrable life skill, like being able to drive a car or touch-type, and it is a skill highly valued by employers. So valuable in fact, that according to the recruitment agency Reed, employees who use languages in their work earn on average 8% more.
  2. Languages teach communication skills and adaptability.
  3. Languages teach cultural awareness.
  4. Languages give you a sense of achievement. Learning a language combines the intellectual with the practical as no other subject does. You need to be able to think on your feet, but when you can find exactly the right foreign word or phrase, you get a real sense of achievement.
  5. Languages are a social skill which can enhance all forms of relationships.
  6. Languages give you the edge in the job market. Today, there is a global market for jobs. The 2008 report by HEFCE showed that three and a half years after graduating, language graduates have the highest salary of all graduates.
  7. Learning languages offers greater opportunities to travel and work abroad.
  8. Languages combine well with virtually any subject for further study. Many universities even offer funding for students to continue or extend their language knowledge by studying or working abroad.

Many skills are developed in language learning that are essential for progress in other subjects such as memory, problem-solving, attentive listening, pattern-finding, attention to detail, creative thinking and reasoning.


Without doubt, regular completion of homework in languages maximises the progress made by every pupil. The department has a particular focus on being able to memorise words or phrases as this is critical to success in language learning and in many other subjects which require more detail for the top grades. Many rote-learning strategies are discussed during lessons so that all pupils are capable of completing learning homework to a high standard. From time to time and especially in Key Stage 4, pupils will be given reading or writing tasks in addition to their learning homework.


Pupils should be encouraged to arrive at each lesson with the correct equipment: pen, pencil, ruler, eraser and exercise books. Although we have French and German dictionaries available for use in school, the purchase of the relevant dictionary for use at home will encourage the pupil to become increasingly independent in the acquisition of language. The dictionaries can be purchased at a reduced cost to the retail price from pupil support at school.


At St. Margaret Ward, all pupils will learn either French or German until the end of Key Stage 3, working on a yearly rotation.  Year 7 in 2017/2018 are learning French. They will receive two fifty minute periods of teaching every week where we will explore the language across the 4 skill areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Topics include school life, family, hobbies, home and town, future plans, food and holidays. Pupils are formally assessed at the end of each unit so that their progress can be effectively monitored throughout the course. In addition, Year 8 pupils will have taster sessions of either French or German (whichever language they are not currently learning) at some point during the academic year.

At Key Stage 4, all pupils have the opportunity to pursue the study of French or German GCSE regardless of the language studied at KS3.  We enter pupils for the AQA GCSE qualification.  Pupils receive three fifty minute periods per language every week. Again, regular assessment enables the department to ensure that pupils can achieve their true potential in the subject and are entered for the correct tier, either Foundation or Higher. Topics that are covered range from the environment to relationships. The GCSE examination is divided into 4 sections, all worth 25% of the final mark. All exams take place at the end of Year 11, starting with speaking exams which will usually take place in April.

The Trinity Sixth-Form Centre also offers French and German A Levels. For further information regarding post-16 courses, please refer to the Trinity Sixth-From section of the website.  

As well as classroom based learning, the MFL department actively encourages contact with France and Germany in order to broaden our pupils’ minds.  We ran a trip to Cologne for Year 7 last summer and next year we will be taking 32 Year 7 pupils to Paris.  

There are opportunities to extend language learning at Post-16. A Level language courses are available at the Trinity Sixth Form, details of which can be found in the relevant section of our website.