The importance of Geography’s role in the curriculum is growing in today´s increasingly globalised world, as reflected by the growing emphasis placed on geographical education in the UK. The wide and unparalleled scope of the subject means that our pupils are considering contemporary and relevant issues, ranging from Brexit and geopolitics to anthropogenic climate change. It is this breadth of study which means that Geography graduates rank amongst the most employable, and the subject remains a popular choice at Runnymede.

Contemporary challenges play an important role in the new A Level specification, in which pupils are encouraged to grow as independent thinkers and become informed and engaged citizens. Our pupils have developed increasing understanding of the world’s changing peoples, places and environments through topics including tectonics, coastal landscapes and globalisation. Additionally, the study of diverse places has allowed pupils to utilise GIS technologies and undertake virtual fieldwork to investigate the cultural diversity of Lavapiés. Whilst the new and rigorous syllabus has yet to settle, the pupils have tackled the challenge well.

A particular highlight of the year was the Year 12 field trip to Alicante. After we were let down in February by bad weather, which forced us to cancel our plans, the morning of the second attempt was nerve-wracking as coastal flooding in the region cast doubt on our trip once again! Thankfully, the weather held out, and we took the AVE eastwards towards the coast. The 25 pupils worked tirelessly to undertake a series of geographical investigations: How does species diversity change across the Guardamar sand dunes? How effective are the coastal defences at Santa Pola? And how are coastlines affected by coastal processes? After an exhausting day out in the field, the evenings were spent analysing our data with the help of our accompanying statistician, Ms Leon. A special thank you also goes to Mr Crumpton for supporting the trip and making it possible.

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum seeks to generate enthusiasm and spark our pupils’ interest. This year our Year 7 pupils have particularly enjoyed using weather instruments to study the microclimates of Runnymede, whilst Year 8 have been getting creative with glacial processes. Year 9 pupils have had the opportunity to build on their discussion and group work skills, and it is fantastic to see how open-minded and thoughtful Runnymede pupils are. Meanwhile, the IGCSE cohort have been exploring their key themes: population and settlement, the natural environment and economic development, utilising a range of skills with increasing independence.

This year has also been a busy one for our staff in the Geography Department. We have said a temporary farewell to Ms O’Driscoll, who has been enjoying the time spent with her beautiful new baby, Julia. Congratulations! Ms O’Driscoll’s absence has been keenly felt by the pupils, particularly the Year 13’s, who have worked closely with her for so long. However, we have been lucky enough to have welcomed Mr Munday to the team, and to reacquire Ms McAteer. Without their efforts and specialisms, Geography would not be the thriving Department that it is.

Through the study of Geography our pupils are presented with enormous possibilities. Whilst Geography may not offer the solutions to the problems we face, such as the impacts of Brexit and consequences of climate change, it does offer a series of challenging and stimulating questions through which pupils are able to engage with the wonderful, though often difficult, world in which we live.