The Geography department is located on one first floor corridor in school. This is one of the most attractive areas of the school as the walls are adorned with murals painted by former pupils Peter Glasgow, Glenn Kennedy, Hannah Hamill and Helen McKinstry depicting four of the earth’s major biomes. Plants on the corridor’s window sills soften the appearance of the building, while two electronic screens continually provide displays relevant to Geography. The first of these is used to show PowerPoint presentations relevant to a topic currently being studied by a particular year group or photographs of pupils engaged on the most recent fieldwork project; this display changes on a weekly basis. The other screen is linked to a camera in the Eco Club’s nesting box in the Millennium Garden and provides views of the blue tits in action from nesting to the flight of the fledglings.
There are six Geography classrooms, five of which are large enough for junior classes of 31 pupils and one smaller room which can accommodate 22 pupils and is ideal for GCSE and A level classes. All classrooms have smart boards and one rooms is equipped with a small clusters of computers to allow for the integration of ICT into Geography lessons and individual or small group research. Access to computer rooms and the Learning Centre enables whole classes to undertake ICT based research or some of our ‘Webquests’.
The Geography corridor overlooks the award-winning Millennium Garden which is used as a resource in Geography teaching. It is equipped with an outdoor classroom and our Year 9 pupils, for example, can investigate the signs of weathering there, while Year 8s enjoy collecting weather data from the department’s weather station. The Eco Club also makes excellent use of this facility and we have been awarded the Best Kept Post-Primary School in the North Eastern Region for three years in a row. The Best Kept School Award is the latest in a long line of accolades won by the Eco-Club. Over the last few years Ballyclare High School has been awarded Fairtrade School Status, the Green Flag Award and the RSPB’s Wildlife Action Award. In May the school won Eco-UNESCO’s Junior Enterprise Award at the final held in the Mansion House, Dublin.
Frequently changing displays on the many notice boards in the corridor celebrate pupils’ work and provide information on careers and Higher Education courses relevant to Geography.