Population in the news

Plenty of population interest in the news today.
Firstly, the announcement from the Chinese news agency Xinhua that the government intends to end the One Child Policy, first introduced in 1980

This is partly due to economic reasons apparently, but also to try to rebalance the country's population. Currently around 30% of the population is over the age of 50. Many of these people may have only one child now to potentially support them in their old age.

A lot of case studies will now have to be re-written.

There was also a story about the UK's population.
There have been some ONS releases relating to the country's median age etc. and the latest forecasts of the UK's growth suggests that were heading for 70 million.

Plenty of interest for GCSE and 'A' level students.

Greenland is melting away

An excellent visualisation from the New York Times.
Scroll down to see more.

Megacities: new from Weapons of Reason

One of the best resources I've bought in the last couple of years was the first Weapons of Reason journal on the theme of the Arctic. It had great articles, data, infographics and illustrations, and I've used sections in quite a few lessons.

The second issue has just gone on sale, and I've got my copy ordered, for £6.

This time round, the theme is Megacities, and this is a topic which I shall be teaching with Year 10 and Year 12. Visit the

Paris Dakar

Spent part of today reading and correcting some proofs of book I'm co-authoring, with a chapter on desert landscapes, and was reminded of an episode of QI I caught the other day.
It mentioned the Paris-Dakar Rally, an event which ran between the 2 cities for some years, and challenged competitors to race through part of the Sahara desert.
It turns out that the race no longer runs between those two cities, partly as a result of the impact that the race had on fragile environments, and also fears about the safety of competitors as a result of terrorist incidents and other reasons.

The event now takes place in South America, but even here there are some geographical issues connected with the route.
The map opposite shows the proposed route for 2016, and this has had to be changed.
It was supposed to be going through Peru, but there are fears of the impact of El Nino which mean that there may be issues providing the necessary support for the race.

The site has a page on the way that they try to reduce the environmental impact of the race.

Investigate the history of the race, and the link between the environment and the challenge that has been provided by it, and the impact of the race on it.

Go Jetters

Go Jetters are new on CBBC: a new animated series, and the geography advisors on the show are my former colleagues Paula Owens and John Lyon. The Go Jetters have global adventures.

Check them out on iPlayer, or play the Global Glitch game.

Primary Map Skills unit

A new unit on MapSkills from the RGS to take students from Y1 - Y6.

Written by Caroline Freedman and well worth a look.

An Atlas of countries that don't exist...

New from Nick Middleton, and just ordered.

A stunning gift hardback featuring beautiful maps and stories of unrecognised countries

Acclaimed travel writer and Oxford geography don Nick Middleton takes us on a magical tour of countries that, lacking diplomatic recognition or UN membership, inhabit a world of shifting borders, visionary leaders and forgotten peoples.

Most of us think we know what a country is, but in truth the concept is rather slippery. From Catalonia to the Crimea, and from Africa's last colony to the European republic that enjoyed just a solitary day of independence, the places in this book may lie on the margins of legitimacy, but all can be visited in the real world.

Beautifully illustrated by fifty regional maps, each shadowy country is literally cut out of the page of this book. Alongside stories, facts and figures, this Atlas brings to life a dreamlike world of nations that exist only in the minds of the people who live there.

Pico Iyer on the meaning of home...

I have a few Pico Iyer books. They are interesting and well-written explorations of movement, and the edges of the world, and the pull of home.
I enjoyed this Ted Talk where Pico starts with the simple question: "Where do you come from?"

Hurricane Patricia

Woke to a timeline full of stories of Hurricane Patricia as it made landfall into Mexico with 'record-breaking' windspeeds of close to 200mph.

50 000 people apparently evacuated from Mexico City.

I grabbed this image from the Earth Null School visualisation last night as it approached - the animation can't be seen but it was whizzing round super fast...

On the news earlier it said that Mexico's geography saved a lot more damage, as the coastal mountains dissipated a lot of the energy as the hurricane made landfall...

New bloggage...

Every now and again, I start a new blog on a particular theme as an extra place to share specific
resources and ideas.
This new blog will share my ideas on geography in / on film....

I'll share memories of particular films from the past, preview films that are coming up, talk about films I've seen recently, and explore their geographical significance.
Geography is tied in with all films: they are set somewhere, and their narrative is driven by characters engaging with places, and their own interconnections.
Each image in a film has been carefully chosen, and may appear on screen for just a short time, but linger in the memory for a lot longer.

I'll explore film posters and the landscapes they show, cultural geography in films, how cities and the rural landscape are (re)presented in film, film soundtracks and the stories that the films were based on, or the new worlds that they open up. I'll explore how maps feature, and where films are located in specific locations.

Check it out at Geography 24 times a second

Thought for the Day

Cultural geographers have long argued that landscape is a text, but they have progressed from the assumption that the task at hand is to produce the authorized expert reading. Arguably, landscapes are best ‘read’ by groups of people, rather than individuals, and this can form the basis of topics for small exercises in the context of fieldwork. The landscape is never read without awareness of other texts: the influence of years of school geography books is not easily set aside, but neither are memories of previously experienced places, images in films, documentaries, news broadcasts, travel guides, advertisements, all of which transmit their own particular message. Each person will generate multilayered meanings of a landscape; the real interest comes when these complex meanings are put together by a communicating group of people. 

Source - p.91

Which landscapes are you going to be experiencing for the first time this half term, and which ones for the hundredth time ?
What difference does 'experience' make ?

40 years ago today...

A remarkable album was released which I've listened to regularly for at least the last 35 years...
Playing it loud now...

Back in time..

Back in July 1985, shortly after graduating (which makes me feel old), I went to Doncaster to visit my friend and contemporary Conor (now an award-winning author and Professor of Medieval History) and we went to the nearby cinema to see a movie about a character travelling backwards 30 years in time and then forward 30 years at the very end.
His time machine was a de Lorean car, and the date that he travelled to in the future will be reached next week...

Back to the Future day is October the 21st.

A few teachers on Twitter have been considering what they might do to mark this in lessons. I'm not quite sure what to do yet, and may actually run out of time to plan anything other than wear a gilet.... which isn't too creative.
That time is actually the very end of the school day, so I may just play the theme tune as students leave, or perhaps try to hide the flux capacitor into as many PPT slides as possible... or something else completely...

Any geography-related ideas come to mind?

GA journals

GA journal subscribers will now find the Autumn issues of journals available to download.
These include:
Primary Geography
Teaching Geography and 
Good to see articles from many people I've worked with over the years in TG in particular. Check out Simon Renshaw's hinge question article, and also some interesting SOLO information.

Also good to see an ad for the fieldwork book that I wrote with John Widdowson a few years ago in TG...

Linking to a departmental Twitter feed...

A nice idea from @montserrat2901 on Twitter for connecting students with the tweets that your department sends out on its feed, and asking them to engage with it. You can follow my departmental twitter feed here: @KingsElyGeog


Worldwise season is nearly on us, with Worldwise Quiz being put on by a number of GA branches, in schools around the country.
Don't forget that GA volunteers have contributed to the creation of a Worldwise app, which is available for iOS devices.

I will be involved with preparing a team from my school for our local GA branch's quiz in November.

Best of luck to all those entering teams for this year's quiz.

CAFOD and British Red Cross resources on Migration

Migration is all over my teaching at the moment, with Y9 looking at conflict, and Y10 and Y12 both exploring population issues.

CAFOD have produced some excellent materials on the refugee crisis with a range of engaging activities which have been well put together.

Planning to use the On the Move game to encourage students to explore the issues relating to migration.

The British Red Cross have also provided a useful resource on Stigma and Migration. I'm impressed with the quality of these materials too.

This adds a little extra pressure, as later this year I'm going to be working with British Red Cross to help produce a brand new and exciting resource for Geographers... more to come on this in 2016....

New in on the bookshelf this week...

A few new books last week...
These included the long awaited new book by Bill Bryson, following up his classic 'Notes from a Small Island'. I've always enjoyed Bill's books. You can't go wrong though when he talks about meeting annoying people, and his curmudgeonly self comes out in these encounters.
I read the chapter on East Anglia first, as that's where I (and Bill himself used to) live.
I was familiar with all the places he mentions, such as Cookie's at Salthouse which sells great sea food, and the pier at Cromer.
There was also a rather more small-scale publishing endeavour in terms of likely sales, which is a book by geographer David Matless on the Norfolk Broads - a lovely book, and it came with a free copy of Uniformagazine too... (which the Bill Bryson book didn't)

GA Conference Teachmeet 2016

GA Conference Teachmeet sign up page is now up and with the new location, in Manchester rather than Derby...

New Digimap for Schools features

New on the Edina blog
1950s mapping and a new text box feature which allows for more text than just a few labels

Some good celebrity endorsements too...

The Digimap for Schools team release two new wonderful features – 1950s OS historic mapping and a text box tool.
The 1950s mapping fill in the mid point time period between the 1890s and current OS mapping.  The 1950s mapping are perfect for comparing changes over time and exploring the landscape, urban areas, road network and other features of post-war Britain.
The 1950s mapping is lovely to look at and a wonderful addition to the mapping available in Digimap for Schools.  
"This new map layer offers scope for further historical comparisons of local areas, and the impact of more recent changes than the previous 1890s addition.
I traced the railway network that used to pass through my village before Beeching's cuts, and looked for clues of the many farms that now lie beneath the urban sprawl of Milton Keynes. I traced the transformation of the Isle of Dogs, and the steady infill of housing in small villages.
The new maps are the latest in the continued improvements that are being made to this essential tool for the Geography department"

Alan Parkinson, Head of Geography at King’s Ely (Junior) School

Dan Raven Ellison on the Greater London National Park

If you have some time to spare, I highly recommend you give this a listen.... download as a podcast too...

Dan Raven Ellison speaking on SOAS radio.

Edith Cavell - 100 years ago today

Will be teaching my students about Edith Cavell today... 100 years after her execution

Image: Alan Parkinson - click for full size

World Map Generator

Via Ben Hennig and worth a look....
A range of options for creating your own maps. The tourist journey one works well, and there are options for downloading and sharing the maps you make.

London's underground languages

Mapping and languages to show the diversity of London...

Sad topographies

Via Twitter, I love this set of snapshots from Google Maps (?)
Depressing place names snipped out of the map and taken out of context.

Also reminds me of a tweet from last night of this location.

How about a set of happy places, or toponyms, or people's names, or .....

Out of this world

We choose to go to the Moon in this decade [and these other things]....not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win...

Last week, NASA added over 10 000 photos taken by astronauts to their Flickr page: the Project Apollo Archive.
I have a wonderful book called Full Moon which has plenty of these images, on glossy paper, taken with the finest Hasselblad cameras and capturing the lunar landscape and the grittiness of those early expeditions to the moon. What amazing memories the people involved must have of those times...

Life of a mountain: Blencathra

A beautiful mountain, which I climbed on a lovely day some years back, along with Scafell Pike, and then ended the evening at Castlerigg Stone Circle...
One for Year 7s to see the beauty of the Lake District landscape...
Will have to go back and do Sharp Edge again some day...

Ascension is back online....

Ascension from Ascension Le Film on Vimeo.

Love this film...

Humble and horrible....and 5p from tomorrow

Namib Desert Challenge

This morning, am trying to finish a chapter on Hot desert landscapes for a forthcoming 'A' level text book.... Been reading about the Namib Desert Challenge, which was featured in Geographical magazine. The website has some dramatic images of the area of the Namib through which the competitors will travel who take part. The next running of the race is in 2016.

New from William Grill

One of my favourite books in recent years is William Grill's retelling of the story of Shackleton's Endurance expedition, and the journey of the James Caird. As we move towards the centenary of the sinking of the Endurance and the events that followed, William has now launched a companion piece, in the form of an Activity Book which, by the look of the publisher's website here is going to be perfect for our Year 8s.
Many thanks to Claire for the tipoff.

Also be sure to follow Ernest Shackleton on Twitter for the full story as it unfolds, tweet by tweet....

Will share of the student responses to the book later this term...

Not so dismal for Weston Super Mare

Dismaland has closed its doors, and the attraction, developed by Banksy is being dismantled. The materials that went into constructing it are apparently heading for 'the jungle' in Calais to help create shelters for refugees who (again last night) attempted to cross using the Channel Tunnel route.

The attraction would make an interesting study for Travel and Tourism students too, as it was exploring the nature of this sort of 'theme' park, and the idea that we should be 'happy to be there'.

The BBC reports on the possible £20 million bonanza that the attraction brought to the town, and also made use of a site that had been derelict for years. I wonder whether the attraction will emerge elsewhere in time... and wonder what will happen to the various artworks that were featured there too.
This would also be a useful attraction for the Changing Place, Changing Places topic in the new 'A' level specifications

Thanks to Nicola Gill of Westonbirt Geography @Westonbirtgeog for her image below, shared via Twitter - one of a small number of schools who had the chance for a fieldtrip there.

New Bristol GA branch programme

The new programme for the Bristol GA has been added to their website, which is looking really crisp and engaging.

Particular useful is the page of resources from previous talks, which I always find is of great practical use when preparing new and updated materials for students.
Nice work by the Bristol GA branch committee, and a model for some other branches to perhaps follow?

GCSE spec meeting for Devon (and district) geographers

Via Paul Berry

Calling all local geographers! A meeting has been organised for teachers to review and discuss the new GCSE and A Level exam specs. It will take place at Exeter School on Wednesday, October 14th. The day will begin at 9.30 am, with the morning until 12.00 pm devoted to GCSE. In the afternoon session from1.00 pm to 3.30 pm we will focus on A Levels. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Although we are still waiting for final confirmation of the exam specs, the meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for geography teachers to share ideas on the current draft specs with fellow professionals, with a view to deciding which spec will best suit their students in the coming years. This is a free course, and over thirty geographers have already signed up to attend. If you would like to join the meeting, please contact me at PBerry5082@aol.com
It would be most helpful if all delegates brought with them copies of all of the proposed exam specs along with them to the meeting. This could be as printed hard copies, or electronic copies on a lap top. All of the specs can be downloaded from the list below.
At the meeting, we will analyse each spec in detail and make comparisons between them to help make an informed choice on our future direction of study. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday week!
GCSE Examination Specs (Draft Only!)
OCR ‘A’ - OCR-A-Draft-Spec
OCR ‘B’ - OCR-B-Draft-Spec
Edexcel 'A' -Edexcel-A-Draft-Spec
Edexcel 'B' - Edexcel-B-Draft-Spec
A Level Examination Specs (Draft Only!)
AQA 'A' Level - AQA-7037-SP-2016-V0-1
AQA 'AS' Level - AQA-7036-SP-2016-V0-1
It might also be helpful to bring along some of the sample assessment materials provided by the different exam boards on their own web sites:
Just to say that these books look like being a great choice for OCR ... new cover image for the Spec B book just added to the Amazon ordering page...

Educationalists to follow on Twitter

UKEd magazine has released a list of UK (and overseas) educationalists to follow on Twitter, and I'm pleased to say that I appear on the 2nd line of the list.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter on @GeoBlogs - my tweets are protected, so you'll have to request to follow me, but as long as you're in education and/or interested in geography and related stuff you'll be accepted. Thanks to anyone who nominated me...

Don't forget your carrier bags

From next week, you'll need to remember your carrier bags when you go to the supermarket. I popped in today and Tesco were handing out a free bag for life...
There are billions of carrier bags used every year in the UK. Will this make a difference?


Thanks to Jon Wolton for the tipoff to this article which talks about the way that technology has enabled a new type of ex-pat, who stays connected... the 'next pat'...
It connects with the idea of cultural globalisation, and the way that technology changes our connections with other places, with apps such as Air BnB.

Cloud Appreciation Society Conference 2015

"clouds reveal the architecture of the atmosphere" - Gavin Pretory-Pinney

The first ever Cloud Appreciation Society conference was held last weekend at the Royal Geographical Society.
I travelled down on a day which started with cloudless skies, and met up with my colleague Claire and then made our way to the ‘home of Geography’.
Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the founder of the society had curated a range of speakers and other sessions to celebrate clouds. The stage was nicely set, with balloons and lovely images. The day started with the movie by Leander Ward that I shared a few days ago.
Gavin himself took us on a tour through the main cloud types, and talked about the work of the society. There was also the news that the app had been updated with a new gallery upload option and there was a talk with one of the moderators which introduced us to other cloud types.

Image of new app

There was a break for coffee and in that time, we managed to pop out to the V&A, as previously blogged.
After the break, there was a lovely short talk by Peter Moore, who told us about James Glaisher's record breaking 19th century balloon ascent which nearly ended in tragedy.
This was followed by Professor John Thornes, who talked about the art of the sky. He described the sky in landscape paintings and the change in the way that it was depicted through art history, and also how the position of the sun in the sky could be used to date paintings and also work out where the artist may have been standing when painting based on the position of rainbows and other atmospheric phenomena.
There were some science demonstrations which didn't really work as well as hoped, and Cynthia Barnett then gave a short summary of the importance of 'Rain' based on her new book. I enjoyed this session.
A musical interlude followed, the first of several songs featuring Lisa Knapp, accompanied by Mara Carlyle, who is one of the presenters of Radio 3's excellent 'Late Junction' programme.
There was a nice lunch in the garden, sat in the sun, with a cloud based camera obscura that had been constructed.

I took the opportunity after we'd eaten to wander down to the shops of the Science museum (where there was an excellent exhibition on Cosmonauts) and the Natural History museum.

The afternoon session started with a folk song of the sea, followed by what was described as the 'science bit'. Dr. Sandrine Bony had travelled from Paris, where she has worked with the IPCC – Clouds and climate change was the focus, and she provided a range of useful satellite data and other information on the importance of water in the atmosphere.

I left the room for the the slight 'sales-pitchy' talk with the sponsor.

The final talks involved Alexandra Harris taking us back to the culture of the views of the sky in literature, going right back to the Bible, and chatted to a few of the delegates. As it happened, someone I know on Twitter was there, but I hadn't realised he was there. The final talk was from Richard Hamblyn who wrote a book on Luke Howard, the man who named the clouds. I have this book from some years back, and it's a good read. He told of the efforts to have a blue plaque added for Luke Howard's achievements.

On leaving, we were able to pick up a goodie bag which provided a nice new enamel badge, a cloud spotter wheel and other goodies, including a nice customised notebook.
A rather fine way to spend the day, followed by a 5 mile walk across London back to get the train home, under skies which were still blue, but now had more clouds in them than before.

New Felicity Aston website

A striking new website has now been unveiled by explorer Felicity Aston. I had the privilege of working with Felicity on the Pole of Cold project, for which we won an award for the educational materials that we produced for the Royal Geographical Society.

Check it out...

50th anniversary of the British road sign

One of my favourite things is the design work that went into the road signs we see everyday, by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert

The British Roadsign Project is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of these objects which form part of all of our everyday landscapes.

If you're passing the Design Museum in the next few weeks, pick me up some badges from the shop... including the legend that is Sir Peter Blake as one of the designers.