New Polish Migration resource from the GA

A new resource has gone up on the GA website.
It's a short unit with associated resources which explores the issue of Polish migration and the decisions that people make about where to live.

Download the FREE RESOURCE as a PDF

Coincidentally this resource has a link with Torun, where I shall be next week.
I'm going to see what the Polish delegates make of it :)

If we can get some additional Polish perspective I think that would make a useful resource for colleagues with Polish students in their geography class or form group...

Free ICON library

I quite like this icon...
It's one of thousands that are available at the OPEN ICON LIBRARY project. Plenty of media and ICT related images that can be used as cues for projects etc. I've used some today in a resource I produced.

There are some nice round flags too... Here's an image I produced using them to prepare for the #TorunGeog11 event next week that I have mentioned a few times recently...

Mission:Explore Redux

It’s time to Mission:Explore all over again !
Perfect for thought provoking homework and school clubs, Mission:Explore are about to release a new BETA version of the award winning website.

It's due out on WEDNESDAY !

From the press release:

The new Mission:Explore is a game, but not as you know it.
There are two aims to the game. One is to collect points and unlock rewards. The other is to experience the world in new ways by doing vitally important (random and warped) challenges. The more missions your students do the more rewards they’ll unlock and the more fun you’ll have during their stay on planet Earth.
Created by a geography educators and supported by Ordnance Survey, Mission:Explore is a radically creative contribution to geography in schools. You will find missions on the site which have been created not only by Mission:Explore, but also National Geographic Education who are using challenges on the site to promote Geography Awareness Week this November.
Mission:Explore can be used to help us all learn about the world in which we live. Our advice is to stay playful, be curious and have an open mind. The website is 100% free for explorers and can be found at

See you there on Wednesday !

After dinner...

Entered the realm of after dinner speeches last night over in Old Hunstanton.
Here's my presentation: a variation on the one I used for the Norfolk GA branch last year.

Thanks to Paula Richardson for the invitation, and to the West Surrey Fieldwork Society for their kind attention.

World Food Day

Perhaps we could all aim to teach something related to the theme of FOOD on the 16th of October.

I shall be posting some suggested activities in the next week or so... Update Here's the first update on the post, which is a link through to the World Food Day website, which has a range of useful materials

New We Feedback video

As featured on Geography all the Way in the new FOOD AND HEALTH section....


My 'type' of present...

Not really a geographical post this one, although it is a good example of recycling I suppose.
Always on the look out for special gifts, my wife and I have now ordered several bracelets from Sue at Haute Keys

The jewellery is made from old and antique typewriter keys. They can be made up into different items, which include bracelets, earrings and cufflinks.
They can be made up using a combination of keys to suit you, so they could spell out a name or a word, or be the initials of friends who have a birthday or wedding anniversary coming up.
Here's one that we had made up first... (the AP is me)

Sue will layout the keys before assembling the bracelet and send a digital picture for you to check that you're happy, and will change the colour and characters to suit your particular needs...
The finished bracelet is then sent by UPS from the USA to arrive a few days later. A unique and bespoke gift for just over twenty quid !

I would get my wife one that spelled out the word 'Geography' but I'm not sure she'd appreciate it...

Click image for bigger...

Ollie Bray on Games Based Learning

Always good to see Ollie Bray at work... (if only to see how many of my slides he's using ;) )

This time he's talking about Games Based Learning...

Great presentation.

Edexcel iGCSE & GCSE Consultation

The Edexcel iGCSE Specification has just been accredited. Another option for 14-16 students...

and coincidentally we have another consultation, this time on the GCSE REFORMS

(including linear assessments etc...)

Tour de Turtles

Thanks to Tom Barrett for the tipoff to this entertaining little site, which might be of interest to those studying the oceans..
Tour de Turtles is tracking a number of sea turtles which have been travelling on their migrations over the last few months. Which turtle is travelling the furthest and the fastest ?
You can check out the leaderboard....

Primary Geography Quality Mark

Following the earlier announcement of schools that had achieved the SGQM, here is the list of schools awarded the Primary Geography Quality Mark in the 2011 cohort. Congratulations to all.


At Gold level, the award is in recognition of the schools capacity to embed excellent and innovative geography throughout the school:
  • Bryn Coch Primary School, Flintshire, North Wales
  • Halterworth Primary School, Romsey, Hampshire
  • Hawkinge Primary School, Folkestone, Kent
  • Hutton Rudby Primary School, Yarm, North Yorkshire
  • Kingmoor Nursery and Infant School, Carlisle, Cumbria
  • Lent Rise Combined School, Burnham, Bucks
  • South Farnham School, Farnham, Surrey


At Silver level the award is in recognition of the implementation of whole school approaches that support excellence in geography:
  • Austrey CE Primary School, Nr Atherstone, Warwickshire
  • Abbey Court School, Strood, Kent
  • Dorney County Combined School, Maindenhead, Bucks
  • Elmwood Junior School, Croydon, Surrey
  • Furneux Pelham Primary School, Furneux Pelham, Herts
  • Hawkshead Esthwaite Primary, Ambleside, Cumbria
  • Holymead Infants School, Brislington, Bristol
  • Longden CE Primary School, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
  • Orchard House School, Chiswick, London
  • Our Lady's Catholic Primary School, Dartford, Kent
  • St Bede's RC Primary School, Redcar, Cleveland
  • St John's Catholic Primary, Poulton Le Fylde, Lancs
  • St Thomas More RC Primary School, Manchester
  • The Oaks Infant School, Sittingbourne, Kent
  • Tithe Barn Primary School, Stockport, Cheshire
  • Unicorn School, Richmond, Surrey


At Bronze level the award is in recognition of a commitment to 'ensuring lively and effective learning in geography':
  • Beacon Hill Primary School, Hindhead, Surrey
  • Berrymede Junior School, Acton, London
  • Burford School, Marlow, Bucks
  • Cathedral Primary School, Red Cross Way, London
  • Chellaston Infant School, Derby, Derbyshire
  • Coatham CE Primary School, Redcar, North Yorkshire
  • Duke of Norfolk CE Primary School, Glossop, Derbyshire
  • Emmer Green Primary, Reading, Berkshire
  • Holyname Primary, Liverpool, Lancashire
  • Huish Primary School, Yeovil, Somerset
  • Ingleby Mill Primary School, Stockton-on-Tees, Tees Valley
  • Lady Lane Park School, Bingley, West Yorkshire
  • Lanchester EP Primary School, Lanchester, Durham
  • Little Kingshill Combined School, Little Kingshill, Bucks
  • Lordsgate Township CE Primary School, Ormskirk, Lancashire
  • Pinewood Primary, Romford, Essex
  • Sherwell Valley Primary School, Torquay, Devon
  • St Michael's CE (VC) First School, Stone, Staffs
  • St Nicholas First School, Wolverhampton, West Midlands
  • St Peters CE Primary School, Wigan, Lancs
  • St Philip Evans RC Primary School, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff
  • St Thomas CE (VA) Primary School, Stoke on Trent, Staffs
  • Sunnyfields Primary School, Hendon, London
  • The Brent Primary School, Dartford, Kent
  • Thornton Primary School, Birmingham, West Midlands
  • Wellington Primary School, Hounslow, Middlesex
  • West Cornforth Primary School, West Cornforth, County Durham

Are you a GINK ?

Thanks to @nessiefuery for the tipoff to this Guardian article.
Lisa Hymas talks about her decision to have no children
Green inclination, no kids...

Some useful thoughts on the disproportionate amount of resources used by children born into the more developed parts of the world.
Useful for units on population and development

Oceans Weekends

You have a chance to win a free weekend training in Southampton in late October on the Digital Earth Oceans site.
The entry details are on the site - good luck ! - I may be seeing some of you down on the South Coast next month !

Curriculum Change: Less drama with Schama ?

Just read an interesting piece by Jim Belben over on the Hodder History blog.

I first met Jim some years ago now, around 2005 when I was working at an event at the RGS-IBG for the Guardian of all folk. I was doing some software reviewing and educational website work, and also linked with the newish (at the time) National Strategies Geography materials.
It was also good to see my blog referenced as one place to go to see the Geography response...

Head over to the GA's website to have your say in the consultation.

An excellent recent addition by Margaret Roberts.

"Alex Standish's curriculum would in my opinion, be disastrous for geographical education. It is extremely dated in that it takes no account of the developments in academic geography and geographical education that have taken place in the last 50 years. His human geography takes no account of, for example, human agency in decision making, conflicting viewpoints on what should be done, on the political and economic contexts in which these decisions are made and of the way places are represented and understood. His physical geography takes no account the complex interplay between human action and physical processes; rivers, coasts, hazards can be managed and are influenced by human action. He does not include thinking on environmental issues. Standish’s geography is simplistic, is mainly descriptive and lacks intellectual rigour.
Geographical education in England currently goes beyond Standish’s description and factor analysis and has developed investigative approaches which enable students to study a wide range of complex issues through the analysis and interpretation of evidence, presented not only on maps, but in statistics, graphs, text, photographs and film.
There are several reasons why a dated curriculum would matter.
First, school geography would become even more detached from the academic discipline and would not be able to benefit from constructive liaison between academic and school geographers. It would stagnate.
Second, it would become difficult to attract good geography graduates into teaching as they would not be able to make use of the subject knowledge gained during their degree course and contribute to the development of the curriculum
Third, children and students in school would find this curriculum unrelated to the lives they lead and to the way they encounter the world through the media. For example, how would knowing about ‘hamlets’ or ‘linear settlements’ or ‘central place theory’ increase students’ understanding of UK's urban areas? Students would find this curriculum irrelevant and boring.
Fourth, the respect that many countries, e.g. Singapore, have for the English geography curriculum and geographical education would be lost. Many geography educators, internationally, would greet a curriculum based on Standish’s ideas with disbelief or ridicule.
Fifth, the Standish curriculum would not enable students to develop an understanding of the major issues we face in the 21st century: globalisation; global warming; increasing urbanisation; use of water and resources; energy supply; feeding the world’s population; huge national and global inequalities; fragile ecosystems and environmental change; local, national and international conflicts.
In my view the Standish curriculum is a stagnant curriculum and every effort should be made to prevent it having any influence on the new geography national curriculum. For the complex demands of the 21st century, we need a geography curriculum which is informed by the latest academic thinking in geography and which excites and engages young people and develops their understanding of the changing and complex world in which they are growing up and in which they will live their adult lives."

Explore it, read it, do it, WEAR IT

We have just launched the MISSION:EXPLORE clothing range with our own Spreadshirt shop.

A series of t-shirts to kick us off, with more items to come shortly.
The first 4 designs are the teleport, the brain maze, the crocodile and the earth sandwich.

Which one to choose ? 
If you can't decide you can always get one of each !!

Edexcel / GA collaboration

Down to London on Tuesday last week, on a grey day to 190 High Holborn: home of Pearson.
I liked the iPad browsing stands and the in-house Costa...
Down to the basement meeting rooms (with the underground trains rattling along just beneath our feet) for an excellent brain-storming and planning session for some CPD sessions that are coming up shortly.

We were looking at the Edexcel GCSE course.
I was reminded of this old classic from the archives for exploring extreme weather...

Thought for the Day

"Nothing, not even teenage sex, plumbs the depth of parental unreason like the school curriculum. At least sex is useful..."
Simon Jenkins

Hidden Journeys: Food and Agriculture

A new section has been added to the RGS-IBG's Hidden Journey's web resource.
This has a FOOD AND AGRICULTURE focus.
This is a visually stunning resource, with some useful links through to maps. The connection with Poland will also be useful for my trip there in two weeks time...

Don't forget the FOOD related visualisations on the Information is Beautiful site, such as this one on sustainable fish species.

In terms of the link with #TorunGeog11, it would be worth checking out the section of Polish agriculture in Silesia, and considering to what extent the media that have been selected for the site are representative of the region ??

In the TES

Thanks to Graeme Eyre for the tip-off that my article on LOCAL GEOGRAPHIES is in the TES this week (I was expecting it to be in  next week)
Also the image below...

Pleased with the way that it looks, but there were a few links that didn't quite go in as they were in the original article...

Weblink to Young People's Geographies project that was referenced with the photography of Jonathan JK Morris
Weblink to the full version of the National Geographic Education resource - we did come up with more than 3 ideas...
Weblink to the RGS-IBG Discovering Britain website was incorrect

Google Logo

Today's is excellent, and has some hidden animations that Twitter revealed to me...

Food and Health

Richard Allaway's GEOGRAPHY ALL THE WAY site is a key resource for all those colleagues teaching IBGeography.
Earlier this year, Richard had plans to expand the site by adding materials for the modules that had not previously been covered.
One of these was FOOD AND HEALTH and he asked me to write the resources.
This ended up being quite a big job, with a way to go yet.

The first ones are now appearing - check back for more on Food, Health and Disease...

How many slaves work for you ?

A new website and mobile app would make a good starting point for discussion
Thanks to GOOD MAGAZINE for another tip-off...
Check out the home page first, with its slinky animation, then take the survey...
There is an interesting introduction to be had for Geography and / or Citizenship to explore the issue of modern day slavery. This connects with inequalities and also the idea of human rights.

So how many slaves work for you ?

Thought for the Day

Oh, the power to be strong
And the wisdom to be wise
All these things will
Come to you in time
On this journey that you're making
There'll be answers that you'll seek
And it's you who'll climb the mountain
It's you who'll reach the peak 

Phil Collins - yes, that one...

Seth Dixon's blog

My post on the new draft curriculum by Alex Standish is being picked up in lots of places, and has now had over 800 views.....

Seth Dixon curates a blog which collates a range of posts from blogs on either side of the Atlantic and beyond and kindly added a link through to Living Geography earlier today.

Follow him on @APHumanGeog


Down to London yesterday, on a rather nice sunny day.
Over to Russell Square for a meeting with GA and ESRI UK colleagues to plan some upcoming GIS sessions. We are updating both the Beginners and the Advanced Digital Worlds courses for 2011-12 and full details of those are on the GA website.

Over to the Institute of Education to get a copy of Graham Butt's excellent book "Geography, Education and the Future"
Lunch at the British Museum, which was teeming with people as always
Then it was up to Euston Road, where I caught the Wellcome sound installation by Bill Fontana and met with So-Shan from @HodderGeography

Went via Waterstones on Gower Street where I got a copy of Owen Hatherley's 'Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain'

Train home and read Graham's book on the way.

Quality Geography

The Geographical Association has announced the latest list of schools to be awarded the Secondary Geography Quality Mark, and Centre of Excellence status.
As one of the moderating team, it's always a pleasure to read the submissions and to be able to offer support and advice to schools, and be inspired by the ways that they seek to improve the experience of geography for the students they teach.

Well done to these schools.
The number in brackets denotes the 2nd or 3rd time the schools have received the award, which lasts for three years.
The asterisk (the Gaul) denotes the Centre oaf Excellence schools...

  • Allerton Grange, Leeds, West Yorkshire (2)
  • Aylesbury High School, Aylesbury, Bucks (2)*
  • Ballyclare High School (Grammar), County Antrim, Northern Ireland         
  • Belgrave High School, Tamworth, Staffs           
  • Bishop Justus CE School, Bromley, Kent (2)*
  • Broadoak Mathematics & Computing College, Weston Super Mare, Somerset     
  • Byrchall High School, Wigan                 
  • Cardinal Newman Catholic School, Hove, East Sussex (2)*
  • Drayton Manor High School, London                 
  • Eggar's School, Alton, Hampshire (2)
  • Ellesmere Port Catholic High School, Elesmere Port, Cheshire   
  • Fitzwimarc School, Rayleigh, Essex (3)*
  • Fountains High School, Burton-On-Trent, Staffs 
  • Hawkley Hall High School, Wigan                      
  • Hemsworth Arts&Community College, Hemsworth, West Yorkshire          
  • Hylands School, Chelmsford, Essex     
  • King Edward V1 5 Ways School CE, Birmingham (2)*
  • Lampton School Academy Trust, Hounslow, London      
  • Notre Dame RC Girls School, London               
  • Oakfield Middle School, Frome, Somerset         
  • Oakgrove School, Milton Keynes *
  • Priory School, Southsea, Portsmouth *
  • Riddlesdown High School, Purley, Surrey (2)
  • Royal Masonic School, Rickmansworth, Herts    
  • Scaltback Middle School, Newmarket, Suffolk   
  • Sharnbrook Upper School, Sharnbrook, Beds *
  • Sir Joseph Williamsons Mathematical School, Rochester, Kent (2)*
  • St Marys Grammar School, Magherafelt, Co Derry, Northern Ireland *
  • St Thomas More Catholic College, Stoke On Trent, Staffs          
  • St Thomas More Catholic School, Bedford, Beds (2) *
  • Stopsley High School, Luton, Beds (2)*
  • Tendring Technology College, Frinton On Sea, Essex (2)
  • The Angmering School, Angmering, West Sussex          
  • The High Arcal, Dudley, West Midlands (3) *
  • The King Alfred School, Highbridge, Somerset *
  • The King John School, Benfleet, Essex 
  • The Kings School, Ely, Cambs  
  • The Queen Elizabeth Boys School, Barnet, Herts
  • Witchford Village College, Ely, Cambs  
Good to see lots of schools that I have visited, or worked with colleagues from in there...

Some of the schools I hope to visit as well. Watch this space for more on that...

If your school hasn't been through the process of application yet ,why not consider applying. It's great value CPD for the whole department, and will make a difference to teaching and learning in your school. I look forward to reading what you got up to in September next year.

Top 10 books for PGCE Geographers

A good suggested list by Jennifer Watts.

What would be on your list ? Why not add a comment to the blog...

Climate Reality - 24 hours of climate...

Last week, there was an online event related to Climate Change called 24 hours of Reality

This ended with Al Gore.
A series of VIDEOS can be viewed.

Follow the Twitter stream for more detail on the Climate Reality project

For an alternative view on Global Warming (and its place in the geography curriculum) you can also read this article from the Daily Mail.

Making my Place in the World

Details of the latest GA project are now appearing on the GA website.
For a change, this one doesn't involve me ;)

The project is being led by John Lyon and Sue Bermingham as Community Geographers, and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.

Schools in Bury, Manchester and Sheffield are involved.

The aims of the project are wide-ranging and not restricted to geography:
Developing speaking and listening skills - by exploring the students' own areas they take on the role of 'expert' and can share their specialist knowledge with teachers, members of the community and other students. This will lead to increased confidence, self-esteem and improved speaking and listening skills.
Learning about the local area - by engaging in units of work about familiar areas, taking part in field visits and speaking to local experts, students will find out more about the places they use on a regular basis.
Career aspirations - by talking to professionals such as architects, town planners and developers, the project also aims to inspire students about the range of career options available to them connected with creating and improving places.
Influence in the local community - by meeting with councillors and local residents, students will begin to realise that they can influence change within their own communities.

Keep checking back to see how the project progresses...

Physical Graffiti

I had a tweet a couple of weeks ago and finally have chance to give it some thought, with thanks to a few folks who suggested ideas.

A tweet from @Catrii asked for some assistance with a query regarding fieldwork: and related to the

Need some help! How would you measure graffiti differences quantitatively from between different areas (deprived to affluent)

This has some good potential as a Controlled Assessment investigation.

Graffiti is of course a very common aspect of urban life.

What is it ?
Where is it ?
What can be done about it ?

Graffiti is Latin for 'scribblings'. As a rail traveller entering London, graffiti is fairly ubiquitous along the railway line: every structure, wall and building that is within reach (and quite a few that look like they aren't)

It is often a consequence of accessibility. If there is a path or other access route to a place where people can be unobserved for a period of time, and there is a vertical surface, then it will be a possible spot for graffiti. It's a place-specific act.

Perhaps some element of the exploration could be based on the nature of the graffiti.
In terms of quantitatively.

Count the number of separate tags
Consider the total coverage of an area
Consider the variation - which might related to the different number of artists
Consider the quality of graffiti - how would you assess this ? colours ? size ? complexity ? skill of the artist ?
Sampling would have to be taken into consideration if this was an investigation....

Coverage : this might involve some sort of reference materials: images of sample areas that have been covered in graffiti to the extent of 50%, 60%, 70%  etc. similar to the ones used to estimate coverage of vegetation on sand dunes.
Could produce a GOOGLE MAP or GOOGLE EARTH overlay with photographs of locations where graffiti was found, and some sort of density colour coding for the
There was also a BBC Class Clips programme which was an early 'outing' from Daniel Raven Ellison
The first clip, which looks at the mapping of graffiti is available by following THIS LINK

Luke, who features in the programme has a web page HERE
Some teacher resources to accompany the programme(s), also written by Dan are available as a PDF download.
Will return to this in a resource I'm writing for the Collins Online Update series.

Update: Reminded of this just now when reading about Young People's Geographies - one of projects looked at graffiti....

Euston Beach

A new art installation project that might be of interest to geographers opens on Thursday at the Wellcome building near Euston Station.
It's the work of sound artist: Bill Fontana.

Thanks to So-Shan for the tipoff...

Preparing for Poland #TorunGeog11 - No. 1

Spent part of the morning a few days ago creating new content for the course that I am involved with in Poland in early October.
I shall be travelling from Stansted to Bydgoszcz airport, and from there to the city of Torun, which has World Heritage status.

I've set up a Twitter account which I am going to try to use as a point of contact for the course. It is at @TorunGeog11 - if you follow it you'll be able to access a range of things related to the course - links to resources etc.
I will also be asking a series of questions on the stream to get a feeling for the current thinking about regional and bilingual geography. I shall be working with the delegates using a range of tools to
More to come over the next two weeks as the event approaches...

Thought for the Day

From the response by GA member Anum Irshad on the GA's Curriculum Consultation page...

 I feel the GA’s proposed curriculum can be viewed as a breath of fresh air, as the flexibility and scope it provides encourages teachers to use their “synoptic capacity” (Brooks, 2007 cited in Lambert and Morgan, 2010), which helps practically in the classroom and to plot a progressive national curriculum. The proposal also supports Sachs’ (2003) (cited in Lambert and Morgan, 2010) idea of an “activist profession”, where teachers can take responsibility for the curriculum and mobilise it in order to re-establish trust with students, communities, parents and various other groups. It ultimately provides teachers with the autonomy they have been longing for.

The Standish Draft Geography Curriculum - some first thoughts...

Earlier this week, I got a copy of Alex Standish's draft for a Geography curriculum to replace the existing pre-coalition one. Standish, who currently teaches at an American university has drawn on a range of sources for his plans, which can be read in a download from the GA's CONSULTATION PAGE.

As the GA's Secondary Curriculum Development Leader until a few week's ago, I obviously have an interest in the shape of the future geography curriculum that will shape the classroom experience of thousands of teachers and hundreds of thousands of pupils for years to come.

The GA's curriculum draft has some significant differences to what Standish proposes (click the link to download PDF)

I was also one of several people involved in putting together the details of a presentation which was developed into a series of maps by ESRI UK. Note that these are presented as potential spaces for exploration rather than 'capes and bays'. 

A few personal observations.
There isn't the same depth of analysis of the different 'types' of knowledge that students need in order to achieve.
From the GA's document - the three suggested types of knowledge are clear:

"Core knowledge" [Kn1]: This refers to the subject as it resides in the popular imagination: if geography is the 'world subject' its core knowledge is gleaned and created from the information communicated in globes and atlases. Much of this amounts to geographical context, and in this sense can be distinguished from the main content of the curriculum. It is not low level or trivial material but it can become so if taught badly, e.g. as an end in itself. The GA, in its 2009 manifesto, likens learning geography to learning a 'language'. Using this metaphor, the idea of 'vocabulary' captures the role of 'core knowledge'. It may be thought of as extensive world knowledge, in itself fairly superficial yet enabling. 
"Content knowledge" [Kn2]: Sometimes referred to as concepts or generalisations, and 
the key to developing understanding. This may be seen as the main content of the geography curriculum. Key concepts and generalisations in geography show how geography contributes to pupils' acquisition and development of 'powerful knowledge'
. Using the GA's language metaphor, the concepts of geography are like its 'grammar'. It may also be thought of as more intensive world knowledge, taking in the realm of processes, different perspectives and of values.
"Procedural knowledge" [Kn3]: Thinking geographically is a distinctive procedure – it is 
not the same as thinking historically or scientifically or mathematically (etc.). The teacher can model this by example, but it is also learned through exposure to, and direct experience of, high quality geographical enquiry which might include decision making or problem solving scenarios. There are two characteristics of geographical approaches, or a geographic orientation, to making sense of the world that are particularly striking to note: 
(a) The recognition of the significance of place and unique context.                                          
(b) The adoption of a relational (or sometimes, 'holistic') approach to enquiries (e.g. taking account of both physical and human factors; or the links between local phenomena and wider global processes).
Learning geography requires pupils to engage mentally with questions about people, society, environment and the planet. This means they identify, assimilate, analyse and communicate data of various kinds, and learn the skills to do so productively. This will often entail using information technology – manipulating maps, diagrams, graphs and images (sometimes referred to collectively as 'graphicacy') – structured talk and debate and writing for a variety of audiences.

The GA, through David Lambert, GA staff,  the various Working Groups, Special Interest Groups and Committees, including Education Committee has been preparing for the next curriculum update for YEARS, and has thought deeply about what could and should be included. Colleagues were involved with producing the Importance Statement for the previous curriculum, from which everything else was developed.

The return of regional geography is a bit of a curve ball that many people would not have expected, and which is at odds with academic geography in the UK. I taught regional geography in 1988 when I first started teaching....
The recent RGS-IBG Conference showed the huge variety of geographies that are being explored in academic geography, some of which permeate down to, or are informed by, what is going on in secondary schools. These are missing from the Standish document.
Some people may appreciate the inclusion of glaciation, but it is presented just as more 'stuff' to learn, rather than with any sense of awe and wonder and beauty. The degree of prescription if not obvious, unless I missed it on first reading. Which bits do you have to know ? Which bits will be on the inevitable 'test' ?

Check out the GA's useful set of CORE KNOWLEDGE MAPS which we developed in association with ESRI UK. These offer a surface over which stories can be created by the teacher. Standish instead creates tablets that are already engraved with 'things to know', such as Cultural pattern, practices and beliefs, e.g. tribal cultures, Persian culture, Arabic culture, Turkish culture, Islam.
which would not be high on the average 13 year old's wishlist of "things I'll need to know about in five years time...."

The GA has created the idea of 'curriculum making'... This involves the teacher and students working to create a series of meaningful responses which connect into a coherent whole, and are enjoyable above all.
Standish creates divisions immediately by talking about human and physical geography: by having a look at How does the weather affect people in different places? - but not the other way round....

Here are a few random points of note:

- use a barometer (oooh, I'll just dig mine out from the cupboard, now, where is it ? it was here somewhere...)
- it includes content for KS4: by that stage no-one who has been exposed to this document will want to have anything further to do with geography...
- are we going to keep going back to the compass and saying - "oh yes, remember those directions we did 2 years ago ? well there are some others in between them.... who knew ?
- where is the geographical enquiry ? how will procedural knowledge be developed ?
- ox-bow lakes - is this irony ?

There is little of the excitement of the Young People's Geographies project, or the Making Geography Happen project, or our work John Lyon and Sue Bermingham are currently doing with Paul Hamlyn, or the exciting use of technology that we see in any copy of TES or spread across the forums and NINGs and Twitter.

To sum up then, this document is out of step with the last five years of progress made by all those involved in the Action Plan for Geography, and the work done in thousands of schools by colleagues known and unknown. It is static and backwards looking. It stifles teacher creativity. It is indiscriminate, with no sense of breadth or depth. There is no sense of the exploration, fun, creativity, co-construction, discovery and playfulness of my recent work with the Geography Collective. There is no room to BREATHE and STRETCH...

Ironically, Standish says in his preamble:

"In writing this curriculum, my objective has been to make a contribution to the conversation about what knowledge and skills children need to learn in geography. How this is taught in the classroom is the prerogative of teachers, as it always should be." 

So we have the confusion of pedagogical and curriculum freedoms.
Teachers (in negotiation with students) need to be able to make decisions on both.

It is also released at a time, when there are now endless schools that have exemptions to the curriculum and don't have to deliver it. (This is certainly one that would be 'delivered' rather than co-created or enjoyed)
Perhaps it's a subtle ploy to get more schools to become academies ?

Please have your say on the GA CONSULTATION.

Charles Rawding of Edge Hill University has added a comment to the GA page:

Dr Standish's proposals are frighteningly out of date - regional geography became discredited during the 1960s and 70s - to take such an approach today would be a seriously retrograde step. It would also result in a chasm opening between what was taught in schools and what students would then encounter when undertaking a Geography degree.

Wordle of Standish document - click for larger...

Wordle: Standish Draft Geography Curriculum

Related documents for further background reading

Transcript of BBC Today programme with Alex Standish and David Lambert (2002)

Review of Standish's book in Times Higher Ed Supplement

Spiked article (2004) that brought Alex Standish's name to many people's attention

Independent article on geography curriculum (2003)

Check the Twitter hashtags #NewGeog and #geographyriot for further tweets and comment

The sources that Standish credits include:
Butt, G. (2011) (Ed.) Geography, Education and the Future. London: Continuum.

This has a fantastic chapter on Young People's Geographies, and this is an absolutely VITAL element of any modern school geography.
The stories of young people have to come through....
They are MISSING from the Standish curriculum

And if you've read this far, please scroll down to the next post and watch Dan Ellison in Oregon outlining some ideas that SHOULD be in the curriculum...

Also, had over 550 page views of my original post on the Standish curriculum - I hope that meant that most of those visitors then had their say on the GA page...

Update Mon 19/09
Check out the lengthy debate on the SLN GEOGRAPHY FORUM - also now over 20 responses on the GA website...

Update Mon 03/10

Comment by Alex Standish added to GA website consultation page:

Wow! This is what it has come to: GA members arguing against the teaching of geography. Clearly, some members think that teaching about the surface of the world (climate, landscape, ecosystems, population, settlements, economies, political territories, culture etc.), the object of geographical enquiry, is not interesting or relevant for children today. Instead, we need to ‘engage’ them through sexy ‘issues’ and topics to which they can ‘relate’. One wonders why people call themselves geographers if they find geographical phenomena “boring”. Many geographers that I know find the surface of the world intriguing, complex, a puzzle. It is a challenge to unravel the different layers and explore the different processes that together have shaped our landscapes/cityscapes and those in different countries across the globe. Teaching geography means instilling in children the same kind of hunger to learn and inquisitiveness about the world. To satisfy this curiosity, pupils need to learn knowledge about the different physical and human geographical layers, such that one can begin to understand the different geographical processes at work. Or at least, this is what geography teaching should mean. 
Those who want children to be critically engaged with contemporary issues facing humanity in different localities need to ask themselves, “What makes someone an independent critical thinker?” The answer is knowledge. Yes, learning about ‘issues’ is a part of geography, but in order to be able to engage with such issues in any meaningful way, you first need to learn some geography (and probably other subjects like history and science as well). This shortcoming was highlighted in this year’s OFSTED report Geography: Learning to Make a World of Difference:
Although pupils were often encouraged well to consider complex global issues such as migration and inequalities of wealth, their understanding was frequently unsatisfactory. This was because the learning was not set sufficiently within the context of real and recognizable places, so their understanding did not develop beyond an awareness that such issues existed.
It is knowledge, not issues, that develops human agency because knowledge is the path to understanding, from which we can interpret how to act.
“But education has changed. Academic geography has changed. Standish’s curriculum is so dated,” retort certain members. Indeed, education in the UK has changed enormously. But why do people assume that this change is positive? Many academics/universities no longer see their role as the expansion and dissemination of knowledge. Look around you at the sorry state of Western society (including state education). And, given that we know that the curriculum reflects social change, why would we not be sceptical of the direction education has taken. Come on folks. Where are your critical faculties? Get some historical perspective on the subject and then maybe it will be evident why geography, as a subject discipline, is fast disappearing in the UK. Don’t take my word for it. Read William Marsden, Richard Hartshorne, Phil Gersmehl and others who have a clearer sense of what geography is about. This is not to be blind to the historical conditions which contextualize a subject, but the process of geographical enquiry and the object of study remain the same.
Finally, my curriculum is just one contribution to the discussion of the geography children need to learn. The process of writing a national curriculum should involve a community of geographers collectively answering the question of what knowledge to study at which level. The GA’s submission is a part of this, but it does not go nearly far enough in specifying the essential geographical knowledge children need to learn. It is the responsibility of subject leaders and teachers to provide the answer to this question. 

Geography Collective in Portland, Oregon

As I may have mentioned before on the blog, I did some work a few months ago for the Geography Collective on the theme of 'the local area'. This was for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC education in the USA, and Dan from the collective went over to Portland to speak to educators from all over the USA.

Now there have been some videos released from the National Council for Geographic Education for the session that Dan Raven Ellison did for the conference, and they are on the GEOGRAPHY COLLECTIVE blog.

Here's the first one and the other two are on the blog...
This is very fine work, and explains the origins of the Geography Collective and our recent work, ideas of geography and showcases projects that Dan and the Collective have been involved with....

Tour of Britain

Tour of Britain is coming through Norfolk for second successive year. This was a picture I took last year when it came through Wells-next-the-Sea. This year I don't have to travel far, as it's coming through my village. My wife went out earlier to help set up flags and bunting and a marquee for a beer festival...
Photos and stuff later...

Update: VIDEO 


Pylons are a common feature of the British landscape.
They are not well liked by people, but burying the power-lines that they carry would add substantially to the cost of the infrastructure, and we all use electricity (apart from those of us who life 'off-grid')

Cumbria is the latest area of landscape to be 'threatened' by a new line of pylons.

There is a competition currently to identify the best new pylon design.
Which of the 6 is your favourite ?

I like these ICELANDIC ones personally.
Don't forget to visit the PYLON APPRECIATION SOCIETY.



British Food Fortnight

It's British Food Fortnight from tomorrow.

The Ordnance Survey blog asked people what they would like to see on the food map of Britain...

What would you put on there ?

NQT Conferences - in November 2011

I am going to be leading 2 NQT Conferences for the GA in November

They will hopefully run on the 10th of November in Manchester and the 17th of November in London, but we need some of YOU to be there of course (or the NQTs that are in your department).

Check the details on the GA website, and to make a booking...

Monster Mash

A very useful case study.... on agriculture

From Farmers Weekly Interactive, a useful farming case study with 5 minute video which goes into detail on the changes in a particular farm towards a new business model.  There is plenty of information on the management of the land and the business, the soils, the machinery and a range of other content.

Mash Direct produce ready made mashed vegetable products, having previously sold the crops in the unprocessed form. I buy mine from Morrisons.

Fukushima - the legacy...

A must-read from the Guardian for those teachers exploring the long road to recovery following the multiple nuclear problems at Fukushima...
It explores the long term psychological impact on the country....

Natural hazards have long-lasting effects...


Seasteading is the name of a project aimed at developing floating cities....

The Daily Mail has an interesting article which explores the history of the project, which has received funding from the PayPal founder and billionaire Peter Thiel...
Who'd like to live in their own island nation ?

Update: thanks to Dan for the comment below...

3 to the rescue...

3 is certainly the magic number...
Visited a school in Suffolk yesterday where the internet for the school hadn't been working for several days. Trouble was that my session was on free web-based GIS....
My 3 mobile broadband was essential (as it has proved to be in the past...) as the school was luckily in an area with good phone reception with 3G coverage, so I was able to stream Google Earth with Robin Brock's OS layer, and a range of other tools at a good speed...

I recommended to the department that if the ICT was as 'dodgy' as they said, that one possibility would be to get a departmental MiFi so that they could do the essential online things that they had to do... I know of other schools that have done exactly that. It also helps get around those pesky 'filters' that stop you accessing useful websites that you have no problem accessing at home... Also allows several computers and mobile devices to connect at once, rather than the old dongle that I used to have...

I noticed when looking at the website that the tariff I'm on is no longer available, but there are some good monthly deals.
A useful bit of technology to have in your geography department, and has certainly saved me a fortune on hotel wifi vouchers...

Disclaimer: other mobile broadband services are available... 

Suffolk Geography Conference

Confirmed as a speaker at the Suffolk Geography Conference in November
Here's the line-up.
Further details will emerge nearer the time, but if you're in the area, contact Colin Breeze, Geography AST at Suffolk One.
Will be good to meet up with my old Humanities chum Jason Peters.

Geography Conference – Friday 18th November at Suffolk One
09.30 – 15.45
09.30 Arrival and Coffee
09.45 – 10.45 Andy Leeder – Exam Technique and Developing a Controlled Assessment Task
10.45 – 11.00 Break
11.00- 12.15 Groups working on Controlled Assessment Tasks
12.15 – 13.15 Alan Parkinson – Mission Explore Project
13.15 – 14.00 Lunch
14.00 - 15.15 James Woolven – ICT Update – a hands on session and chance to try out some great Geographical Teaching and Learning tools.
15.15 – 15.30 Plenary

United Kingdom of McDonalds

Thanks to Jennifer Watts for link to this image, which is the UK version of an earlier US map that I have used many times over the years...
Distance to nearest McDonalds
Mine is about 12 miles away, which is a fairly safe distance...

Via Flowing Data

Britain's changing High Street

Thanks to Paul Berry for the tip-off to this rather nice infographic on the changes taking place in the High Street. This comes in the week that Westfield's huge new Stratford store open. I have previously blogged about this development, as the majority of people arriving at the Olympics will pass through it.

The diagram comes from a survey carried out by Simply Business

What are the shifts that are taking place
What's the picture in your region ?
Now explore your own home town...