Understanding GCSE Geography successfully covers the Southern Examining Group's syllabus. The teacher's resource pack provides further help with differentiation to bring the materials within the reach of Foundation and Higher tier students. It also includes a good selection of sample exam questions with mark schemes and vocabulary lists.
The student's book takes each syllabus theme in turn and develops it systematically and to reasonable depth. There is no noticeable incline of difficulty within each section, although the pack does attend to this through its activities. The way case studies develop ideas relating to pattern and process in the student's book is variable. Many case studies are integrated within the text. The more useful ones are freestanding within the chapter, developed in more depth to provide additional examples of the topic. (The Alps are well developed in this way as an example of tectonic activity.) Most case studies are at a regional scale, and as they are used as vehicles to illustrate particular themes, pupils meet many places but in a rather uncoordinated way. Teachers may need to give more attention to real and relative locations than the text does.
There is a reasonable balance between descriptions and explanations of physical geography and investigations of human activity and impact. Geographical skills are integrated throughout, with many maps, photographs, charts and diagrams to develop confidence with graphics.
Roger Carter Roger Carter is president of the Geographical Association