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How the Head of Geography at Hampstead School uses Geography Review to teach A-level Geography effectively

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“Giving them something from the magazine or other literature is signalling to them that they’re reading something different; this is about them being a geographer and engaging with a variety of different sources of information.”

I currently teach the human topics of the A-Level Geography course at a large mixed comprehensive school in London. Our school, and thus our A-Level cohorts, are genuinely inclusive with students who will achieve anything from an A* grade to an E.

This year, we decided to subscribe to Geography Review, something that had been on my radar for a while. The magazine has been a hugely beneficial addition to our resource bank, adding another resource that we can use with students to get them ‘thinking like a geographer’. In my experience, when students go to a textbook or a revision guide, they expect the specification to be followed and delivered to them through the text. In doing so, rightly or wrongly, they do not critique its viewpoint. They assume that if it’s in the textbook they should know it. Giving them something from the magazine or other literature is signalling to them that they’re reading something different; this is about them being a geographer and engaging with a variety of different sources of information.

With Geography Review, we’ve been using articles from the magazine to get them thinking critically about what they read; preparing them for university by getting them to think about who might have written this article and why. The articles have acted as a springboard to reading from other sources, where more bias and viewpoint is involved. One of the key differences is that Geography Review doesn’t assume the level of background knowledge that other sources do – thus it is accessible for all.

Since we subscribed, I have been collating a folder of articles with the NEA in mind. In the past, when I’ve asked weaker students to go off and do some independent reading and research, they simply haven’t known where to start.

My idea is that now, with a bank of magazine articles filed, they could use this as a starting point – flicking through to find something of interest to them to explore further.

So far this year, Geography Review has contained some fantastic articles for the physical geography topics of the course. Having previously taught some of these topics, I know how challenging it can be to find good quality articles that are accessible for sixth form students.