New PGCE Geography blog

It's always good to see another geography blog being started, and the latest one of note is being written by Kirstie Bowden, who's currently undertaking a PGCE with Jim Rogers at Exeter University.
She has added a few posts to begin with, and I look forward to seeing how the blog (and the course) develops. It's a while since I did my own PGCE, but going to be working with three sets of PGCE students over the next few months (as I have done for over a decade now...)
Check out PGCE Reflections

Best of luck with the course to all those currently undertaking a PGCE...

Happy World Cities Day

Find out more on the website.

From the website:

Humanity is at a crossroads, undergoing a major urban shift that is transforming our world. Urbanization has become an inevitable process that presents tremendous challenges, with cities growing at unprecedented rates in many nations. Nevertheless, urbanization should be seen as an opportunity to harness cities as engines of growth, and to lead a positive transformation towards sustainable development.

Urban transformation is inevitable: it will continue, for better or worse. If not critically reexamined, urbanization will continue to propagate negative trends, including: increased segregation, inequality, and environmental degradation. World Cities Day reminds us about the critical role that urbanization plays in development.

A hundred years ago, city dwellers were a minority of the global population. In the next few decades, urban dwellers will double in number, accounting for nearly three-quarters of the world’s population. This phenomenon, which began a century ago in Europe and North America, is now occurring at lightning speed in Asia and Africa, where millions of people are moving to cities. In order to keep up with current growth rates, urbanizing countries will have to build a city of one million inhabitants every week for the next forty years.

Newly burgeoning cities are witnessing the rapid expansion of informal and unplanned settlements that lack access to clean water, sanitation, and proper infrastructure. The increase in manufacturing of export goods, fueled by the cheap labor of rural migrants, has been a typical scenario in developing countries, which deepens the economic divide. For the excluded –unskilled workers and the jobless young people – urban growth is occurring without economic benefit. Attracted to the promise of the metropolis or unable to make a living on the farm, many pour into cities. Many born in urban centers have no access to education. The supply of jobs can’t keep up with the demand, which forces men, women, and children to depend on informal work to survive. Urban protests are on the rise due to the poor quality of life and rising inequalities.

Cities do offer enormous promises, with overwhelming potential for innovation and a better life. Cities can become engines of economic development and spaces of freedom, innovation, prosperity, and resilience. In order for cities and their inhabitants to thrive, a new urban paradigm is needed; one that recognizes local contexts and is founded on the respect of public and private uses of land, sound urban design, and a well-coordinated system of systems. If a city is to function properly, it must coordinate very diverse agendas related to land use, energy, water, waste, mobility, health and education, economic development, and the promotion of cultural vitality and social inclusion.

Leading urban transformation is about redefining the urban paradigm for future generations. It is about empowering people to contribute to creative solutions that can improve our shared urban future. It is about innovation and new ideas to bring about the city we need and the future we want.

What is Landscape?

I'd be grateful if you could have a go at defining the term LANDSCAPE and type your thoughts into the Google Form below.
Will be sharing the results of course as always...

Russia... a new resource for KS3

As part of the new set of resources which are being released by the RGS-IBG, which include the rather splendid Mapping London, a few other units are now available.

Simon Oakes has written a new set of resources called Russia's Regions and Roles

In this self-contained six-lesson module, students will develop an understanding of how Russia is a globally significant place and home to a diverse range of landscapes and environments. In the first few lessons, students will explore Russia’s varied physical regions, as defined by their landforms, climate, vegetation and soils. They will analyse enormous spatial variations, from hot desert to icy tundra, not forgetting the marine environment of the Arctic Ocean - large parts of which Russia claims ownership over. Students will learn about the role that geological, climatic, ecological and human processes have all played in Russia's history and the different timescales for the changes that these processes bring to places. For instance, not only will students be made aware of tectonic movements taking place hundreds of millions of years ago, they will also examine how contemporary climate change may be affecting Russian ecosystems.

In later lessons, the emphasis shifts from Russia’s regions towards its role in the world. Russia has always exerted enormous influence on a planetary scale. Past rulers built a global empire, followed by a soviet super-state. Today, Russia is a so-called ‘BRIC’ economy and a G8 nation. Fossil fuel sales to neighbouring countries in Europe, as well as China, provide Russia with wealth, power and influence. As they explore this relationship, students will learn how finite supplies of natural resources can result in global interdependency between different places. Students will also analyse how Russia’s unique story has produced a country whose population is hard to categorise, both economically and demographically. According to most economic and social indicators of development, Russia is a developed country like the UK or France. However, once students begin to explore the data, they will discover facts that may not fully support this view.

Students will also develop their geographical skills while studying this module. They will be immersed in a range of sources of geographical information, including maps, diagrams and aerial photographs. In one lesson, they will analyse a range of data gathered through the use of a ‘virtual’ fieldwork transect across Russia; in another, they will gain spatial awareness using historical maps that chart the changing boundaries of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. They will create and construct charts, choropleth maps and proportional arrows, amongst other techniques.

Finally, students will communicate geographical information through the completion of written KS3 assessments at regular intervals. These have been written by a GCSE chief examiner, with an eye on progression towards GCSE.

Don't forget the award-winning SAGT Pole of Cold resources either...


What was on TV when you were young ?
What TV programmes can you remember from your youth ?

What was on TV on the day you were born ?

Those questions can now be answered thanks to the BBC's GENOME project.

This site contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009. You can search the site for BBC programmes, people, dates and Radio Times editions.
We hope it helps you find that long forgotten BBC programme, research a particular person or browse your own involvement with the BBC.
This is a historical record of both the planned output and the BBC services of any given time. It should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time - not those of today.
So if we go back to late December back in 1963...
Here's what was on the BBC on the day I was born..... 



An opportunity to see some of the programmes which BBC Television provides for schools each week of term time


A series of films prepared for secondary schools, and shot in the United States by a BBC School Film team

The Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains

A visit to Wyoming-a state the size of Great Britain, yet with a population the same as that of Hull. In the town of Laramie an old-timer talks about the early days


Men and Gods

A series for sixth forms of grammar schools designed to provide a common experience for both science and arts specialists

Art for Worship

The great art of the Middle Ages was produced by the Church. This programme concentrates on two English cathedrals, Durham and Wells, in order to illustrate one of the major developments in medieval architecture and sculpture: the shift from Norman or Romanesque to Early English or Gothic

13.00:0 SUL I SUL



A special edition for gardeners and garden photographers

Today gardening and photography are the most popular hobbies in the country. This programme aims at the man who practises both

Percy Thrower introduces

Roy Elliott with plants in an unheated alpine house-and his films of plant-hunting expeditions in the Alps and J. E. Downward

Specialist plant photographer with advice for indoor and outdoor amateur plant photography Produced by PAUL MORBY From the Midlands


Introduced by John Cherrington


A second showing of Light the Blue Paper by JOHN HOPKINS

The bang is loud in the night. The conspiracy of silence which follows is more sinister.






Directed by Willis Goldbeck

This is the story of Johnny Holiday, a twelve-year-old juvenile delinquent who is sent to a ' Boys' School '. At first he resents the discipline, but the friendship of a rugged ex-cavalry sergeant who shares his love for horses gives him a new start in life.


assisted by Sweep and Harry Corbett in SUPER MUSICIANS

Producer, TREVOR HILL From the North

Sooty. Sweep, and Harry Corbett are at the Prince Charles Theatre. London



Dramatised by Joy Harington in twelve episodes from the novels

Kidnapped and Catriona


The Return of Alan

Once again James More threatens David's hopes, and his rascally intrigues lure David and Alan to France.


Heading west to new horizons with JOHN MclNTIRE

The Levi Hale Story

After serving sentence for murder, Levi Hale is released on parole, on condition that he leaves Wyoming and never returns. He apparently agrees, but his subsequent actions cause his brother deep concern and result in tragedy.



Incurably Human

John Morris reports on film from Wennington School, Wetherby, Yorkshire, and questions its founder, Kenneth Barnes


A Christmas Carol by CHARLES DICKENS told by Michael Hordern in three parts

3: God bless us, every one Produced by JOHN ELPHINSTONE FYRRE

Told By: Michael Hordern




Singing led by Stroud Choral Society

Conductor, Eric Sanders

Hymns introduced by Dudley Savage

Soloist, Edward Evanko

Organist, Evan Rigby




A film series starring

RAYMOND BURR as the famous lawyer-investigator created by Erie Stanley Gardner


BORROWED BABY with Barbara Hale , William Hopper

William Talman , Ray Collins

Perry Mason 's composure is jolted when he finds a basket containing a baby on his office desk.


The One Night of the Year by JANE PHILLIPS starring



WARREN MITCHELL and introducing

Lesley Lee Thompson

21.55:THE NEWS







Music arranged and conducted by ALFRED RALSTON

Produced by ANTONY JAY


Incurably Human

John Morris reports on film from Wennington School, Wetherby, Yorkshire, and questions its founder, Kenneth Barnes

23.15:app THE WEATHER

Close Down

Not a lot then....

Beautiful Scotland - SAGT Conference 2014 - post #5

I visited a few places in this film over the weekend while up in Perth for the SAGT conference. The others I've visited previously, and it's another reminder that I need to get up to the Cairngorms and Skye again...

Beautiful Scotland from John Duncan on Vimeo.

Coming soon from Carl Lee

As I mentioned a few weeks ago.... a new book from geographer Carl Lee, author of 'Home'
Follow Carl on @geoeverything to find out the latest news - you'll hear it here too...
I've had a sneak preview and it's really rather wonderful...

Weather Report

An old favourite that popped into my head this evening...

SAGT Conference 2014 - post #4

As always, the SAGT delegate bags had a range of excellent freebies and leaflets, including bottled water, Tunnocks' Caramel Wafer, a Digimap for Schools ruler, a SEPA pen and some jam...

There were also leaflets which provided lots of useful links to opportunities for teachers in Scotland in particular. Here are some details for those Scottish (and other) colleagues who may not be aware of them...

These included a useful leaflet on the Forth Replacement Crossing, which I saw being built while crossing the Forth Rail Bridge. An Education Centre has been built which provides sessions themed around the construction of the bridge.

SQA had provided lots of exam maps and papers, with more to collect for those who needed to top up. Some useful exam maps and other documents were available in all the bags.

There was a leaflet describing a film competition which is open to Scottish schools. It's the National Countryside Film Competition for Schools.
Also a leaflet on the John Muir Award. We had our Mission:Explore John Muir Trust resource mentioned too.

There were free books to collect from several of the stands, and leaflets from many of the exhibitors.

There was also a copy of the latest 'Geographer' magazine from the RSGS, themed on flooding. This is sent to all members, and is very useful.

Leaflets included Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh (well worth a visit), information on the Cairngorms National Park, details on the Young Placemakers' project, a volcano poster from Discover the World, FSC Scotland courses, Commonwealth Games details, an EDINA Digimap for Schools resource that I helped to create, SUSTRANS resources on the school journey, SCRAN and Forestry Commission Scotland leaflets, and details from several universities.
One interesting leaflet was from Staffordshire University, which offers a BSc (Hons) Geography course with Mountain Leadership  (Course F8X3)

I also liked the IMBY project ('In my backyard') 

New performance indicators for assessing KS1 and 2

Via Paula Owens
Apologies for possibly spoiling your holiday....
New draft performance indicators for assessment for KS1 and 2 from the DfE have been published, which on first reading may well provoke some responses from those it involves... (PDF download)

Starting the Christmas present list...

I've started to identify possible gifts to myself for Christmas...
One of them is this book, which looks to be a fantastic read, and ideal for exploring the sort of landscape that one would expect to find in large cities, and certainly connect with the idea of the Greater London National* Park

Nature in Towns and Cities
is a new book in the Collins New Naturalist series.

Speaking of the @LondonNP as we were, there are now over 80 organisations that have signed up to be Friends of the National Park.

* a notional park

Favourite places....

Place is one of the key areas of Geographical thought.
Geography is about places, but also the idea of place, and what makes it...
One of the my favourite books is the Atlas of Experience, which is sadly now out of print. This looks at ways of mapping experiences, and lives.

To help with a project which I am currently working on, it would be great to hear about your favourite places in the world: the ones that you would most want to revisit or spend time in... and the reasons for your choices.

Please fill in the Google Form below if you have a moment...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Houses of the Holy

Listening to new deluxe edition of this classic album...
The album cover was designed by a number of people including collages made by Aubrey Powell, a former pupil at King's Ely where I teach. He visited quite recently.
Photos were taken at the Giant's Causeway.

Which other album covers feature (famous) landscapes ?

New look for Google Drive

I use Google Drive for a lot of my work, and it's now been given a new look, which is an improvement on the previous interface.

Just about to make my latest Google Form, to feature in a new post shortly...
If you haven't claimed your Drive, do so now.

OS Map Drawing Competition

I like the look of this competition, open to children under 12 years old, and the sample map that has been provided here.
Here's the information:
We would like you to draw a map of what you think Santa's town looks like. You can create your map on paper or on your computer, and we will choose our favourite to win a family trip to Lapland.
The trip is just before Christmas, on the 22 of December, and includes:
  • Return flights from Gatwick Airport to Lapland
  • A Snowmobile trip
  • Journey by sled pulled by real huskies
  • Reindeer sleigh ride
  • 2-course lunch
  • Build a snowman and have a snowball fight!
  • Have a go in a toboggan
  • Finding and meeting Santa with gifts for each child
The trip is for two adults and two children up to the age of 12
So what should you draw? Think about what sort of buildings and other things Santa would need to make toys for all the children in the world. Have a look at some real maps and see what kind of things appear there, and then use your imagination to create your own!

Details on the blog or the main competition entry page.

Good luck if you enter...

Thought for the Day

"Learning is always easier when you’re enjoying yourself…"
David Attenborough

From the first episode of 'Life Story'

Here's an infographic on the programme that was shared earlier today on Twitter via Nigel Buck.

SAGT Conference 2014 - post #3

Saturday saw the SAGT conference itself.

I was at the venue early, and helped with the process of setting up the exhibition area, which involved quite a few people I've worked with over the years.
Here are just some of the hundreds of jute bags packed with goodies (including a Tunnock's caramel wafer):
Up to the room where I was running my seminars, to set up (my presentation will be added in a future post) and discovered that there were a few technical issues which meant a slight change of plan in my session.
This meant that I missed the SAGT awards ceremony.
It turned out that my name was mentioned though, as the Pole of Cold resource that I had written earlier in the year for the RGS-IBG was the winner of the non-book award...

Managed to get a photo with the award certificate later in the day...

After the award, it was time for the morning session....

SAGT Conference 2014 - post #2

Up on East Coast mainline to Edinburgh on Friday, then a crowded train to Perth. Arrived and checked in at the Isle of Skye Hotel (AKA the Travelodge), then walked across the Tay to the HQ of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for a reception to launch a book on the history of the society and Scottish Geography. Toured the building, and met a few familiar faces from the geography community.
Out for an SAGT meal after the reception and a chat to Mark Higginbottom: the current GA president, then back to the hotel and a nightcap with Jim Hansom from the University of Glasgow (who co-produced this excellent coastal resource)

If it's brown it's cooked...

But this burger appears to be burnt...

However, it's another example of glocalisation.
This is where a global company adapts its product so that it is relevant to a local market, but retains the global branding.

Just putting the finishing touches to a resource for the TeachIt Geography website, which explores some of the examples of glocalisation that are connected with the fast food industry.
Here's a Telegraph article on the burger, which includes an image of the charcoal cheese that goes into the burger.

And also a Guardian article which tells more of the story.

Do they come with chips ?


Geograph was launched in 2005
The project aimed at getting a representative picture for each 1km grid square in Great Britain and Ireland.
Over 12 000 people have contributed well over 4 million images to the site.

I was contacted recently by Bob Harvey: one of the founders of Geograph, as part of a drive to recruit a whole new generation of photographers to add to the site, and increase its usefulness still further.
I've always made use of the site, and it got another mention in my recent resources created for the Ordnance Survey and EDINA's Digimap for Colleges service, and also in my presentations at the SAGT conference yesterday.

Perhaps it's time that you paid a visit to the website to see what's available.

The Geograph Flipboard page is a new feature which is worth subscribing to if you have a Flipboard account.
This features a range of recent and/or useful and notable images from the site, which are automatically fed in so that the magazine updates each day.

A few weeks ago, Noel Jenkins posted a very useful suggestion for how he used the site to develop a sense of PLACE with his students in Year 8.
You need to go and read this to get a sense for the usefulness of the images, and another quality idea from Noel.
This was another reminder, if one were needed to check out the site, and delve into the areas that you might not previously have visited, and then to CONTRIBUTE SOME OF YOUR OWN IMAGES....

You can also follow GEOGRAPH on Twitter (and get a daily image of interest into your Twitter feed)
I mentioned using the IMAGE DOWNLOAD option from the search (KML file generation) once again in my session at the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers' Conference in Perth. It was back on 2005 that I first mentioned Geograph in my conference session there...

Image: Alan Parkinson

Kelpies and tourism

While up at SAGT Conference, I was able to take in the Kelpies.

These are two 30m tall metal sculptures of horse's heads, which have been erected as part of a regeneration project between Falkirk and the industrial area of Grangemouth.
Just up the road is the Falkirk Wheel, which we also visited, and which had a busy cafe and shop on what was a wet and windy late October day.

Tourism has been boosted in the area by these two attractions which are just a few miles apart.

The Kelpies are very impressive, and a visitor centre is being built for opening in 2015.
Here are a few pictures from my visit.:

Middle picture was due to vibration on mini-tripod I was using, so not made with a filter, but I like the effect...
Well worth a look if you're in Edinburgh and can get out that way...

New Derby GA Branch inaugural lecture...

It's a cracker...

Date: Wednesday 5th November, 2014. 6pm - 7pm
Venue: University of Derby, Kedleston Road, Derby, DE22 1GB. Room OL2.
Free car parking available on site
As part of its inauguration, the Derbyshire Geographical Association invite you to its first open lecture:
Dr Nick Middleton, St Anne's College, University of Oxford.
DESERTS: Their use and abuse
Deserts are remarkable places. Typified by aridity and extremes of temperature they can be harsh and hostile or spectacularly beautiful. Many also have a long history of successful human occupation. Drawing on personal experience in many of the world's arid lands, particularly the Gobi and Atacama deserts, Nick Middleton delves into these unique landscapes and highlights the good, the bad and the ugly of how people use them.
The lecture is free to Derbyshire GA branch members and a voluntary donation of £1 per person for this launch event will be sought on the night.
More about Dr Nick Middleton:
Nick is a prominent geographer and environmental consultant who has published 19 books and more than 250 articles in journals, magazines and newspapers. His books have been translated into 10 languages and his television programmes are broadcast all over the world.
Nick is also a prolific travel writer and draws his material from his travels through more than 90 countries, on a variety of missions. His travelogues include The Last Disco in Outer Mongolia (Phoenix, 1992), Kalashnikovs and Zombie Cucumbers: Travels in Mozambique (Phoenix, 1994), Travels as a Brussels Scout (Phoenix, 1997), Ice Tea and Elvis: A Saunter through the Southern States (Phoenix, 2000). In 2002, he won the Royal Geographical Society's Ness Award in recognition of widening the public enthusiasm for geography through his travel writing.
His most recent travelogues - Going to Extremes (Pan, 2003), Surviving Extremes (Pan, 2004) and Extremes along the Silk Road (J Murray, 2006) - were written in association with three four-part television documentaries broadcast by Channel 4 in the UK and National Geographic Channel in most other parts of the world. The Going to Extreme series explores the world's hottest, coldest, wettest and driest inhabited places. In the follow up series, Surviving Extremes Nick investigates how four traditional communities adapt to life in harsh environments: the Inuit in northern Greenland, the Congo's Biaka pygmies, the Tubu of the Ténéré Desert and the Kombai of Papua. Silk Routes is a string of similar adventures among traditional societies across Central Asia.
Nick Middleton also works for the Economist Intelligence Unit as an economic and political analyst on the Horn of Africa. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), Nick was elected to the Council of the RGS/IBG and to membership of the Expeditions and Fieldwork committee in 2009 for 3 years. He has worked as a consultant to several United Nations agencies, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), as well as the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the EU and WWF.
Nick is very active in popularizing geography and environmental science. His name is well known to UK geography students as the author of the Environment Today column in the A-level magazine Geography Review.
So we can appropriately plan for this event, please fill out the booking form below if you are attending. Please let us know estimated numbers if bringing a group.
For more information about this event contact Ryan O'Riordan.
Tel: 01332 591671

Death Valley's moving rocks

Several years ago, Noel Jenkins wrote a resource as part of the Action Plan for Geography, for the Royal Geographical Society's website.
It described the sliding stones of Racetrack Playa
It's a favourite of many teachers...

Recently, this story has come back to prominence as a report has claimed to have worked out what the mechanism is that lies behind the moving stones.
Time to bring this little mystery back out perhaps...

Image copyright: Noel Jenkins

21st Century Challenges

One of the greatest challenges for teachers is finding up to date and authoritative teaching materials on some current issues.
One way of keeping up to date with what's out there is to subscribe to Living Geography of course.
From time to time, I discover that sites I was familiar with have undergone some substantial changes, and that happened recently with the RGS-IBG's 21st Century Challenges website.

This connects with events taking place at the RGS, and elsewhere.
There is now a rather fine SCHOOLS page, which has links to teaching resources on a great many challenges, and a poster set for the classroom.
The materials on Concreting the Countryside in particular are excellent, along with those on Water Sustainability, and Britain's Ageing population.

The site has a 60 second guides page too, with infographics such as the one below, which sums up the challenges.

Follow this link for a special PDF download of the infographic above. (PDF download)

Follow @21CC on Twitter too

Climbing high...

Hunting out some photos from the past for a writing project, and came across this one of me on Stanage Edge in the Peak District at some time in the early 1990s I reckon probably, climbing with Simon Hathaway. I loved that old brown jumper too...

I use old pictures of me like this when teaching if possible.... what old pictures do you have of yourself being active in landscapes ?

Oliver Postgate

This book arrived yesterday, with thanks to Jo Norcup for alerting me to its existence.

A reminder of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin's enduring genius....

I have to find a way to get this into a project in some way. It was an indelible part of my childhood...

Here's the opening description of the setting of the Noggin the Nog stories:

“This land of dark forest and snow
This land of mountains and valleys
Of deep narrow bays where the sea roars between the black rocks
And the wind howls cold in the night
There was the little town of wooden houses
Clustered by a bay where the sea was calm

And there above it was the small castle… the castle of King Knut.”

Landscapes of childhood imagination....