It is important that pupils have a general knowledge of a geographer’s basic tools, namely maps and atlases. S1 begins by studying these topics:
- pupils study ordnance survey maps of the local area and other parts of the UK, become familiar with the symbols used on maps and with four- and six-figure grid references. They also study relief and how height is depicted on maps
- in the atlas work section, pupils build on their knowledge of grid references to understand latitude and longitude and how they are used on world maps. Concepts of degrees and minutes are introduced. A wide variety of atlas maps are studied as pupils come to terms with the wealth of information that can be displayed using visual geography
- the importance of new and emerging technologies is stressed throughout the course and pupils are given a basic introduction to geographical information systems (including Google Earth Pro), remote sensing and the use of GPS.
Once the basics have been learned pupils move on to look a little more in depth at their local area with a coastal unit. Fieldwork is important here as we discover how our coast has been formed and what it is used for. Problems of coastal management are also examined and the study is enhanced by a visit to the educational unit at the Seabird Centre.
Finally in S1, there is a choice of projects for pupils to investigate in more depth, looking at different ecosystems and how they are used and threatened – examples include the arctic, the desert and the rainforest. The implications of climate change become important here. Pupils are encouraged to present their projects in a format of their own choice.