Heatwave UK (and beyond)

The heatwave during this summer is being compared to the famous summer of 1976, which I remember well (and have blogged about previously), and more data are being produced each day as the heat continues, with a brief cool period happening at the moment. There have been around 26 days this summer which have exceeded 30 degrees C (there were 24 days in the summer of 1976), and for the last few years, that has only been around 9 or 10 days. Back to school for many next week is likely to lead to more heat of course.

There is talk of hosepipe bans, but I'm not sure why the hosepipe ban didn't come in months ago. It's clear that the land is parched, and there are leaks from pipes which haven't been fixed, and if more water is taken out of rivers this will impact on the health of the riparian ecosystems. Agriculture needs to take some sort of priority at this time of year. River flow in the Great Ouse was described as 'very low' during the peak of the heat.

Spring crops are not growing at the rate that they should, and farmers met Michael Gove earlier this month to express their concerns. The East of England has experienced the greatest heat, and has also had very little precipitation, and is one of the areas where a lot of the UK's crops are grown. Farmers have had a bad winter (remember the Beast from the East not that long ago) and are having to go into winter feed, as the grass is not growing.
Farmers are facing huge financial losses.
There has also been a deadly heatwave in Japan, with temperatures in the 40s and people succumbing to heat stroke. This New York Times article provides more detail on this country's problems with extreme heat.
Temperatures have soared and the heat is spreading up to the Arctic as well, which is particularly concerning as there are some important feedback loops which involve the Arctic (I shall come back to that theme in a future post about the 'Hothouse Earth' stories in the news this week.
This Guardian article has some information on the impacts.

There is also a problem if we move into Europe as well.
The link with larger global circulations within the ocean is explored in this article here.

We seem to be heading for this becoming the new norm very much sooner than we were always told would happen. Leo Hickman shared some tweets recently showing a programme that was made with David Attenborough which had predictions of the future climate very similar to what we have. There are also predictions of hot years to come over the next few years.

The UEA Climate centre is clear that the UK's climate is changing, and that the seasons are shifting. We are now seeing some evidence of this.

#Greece wildfires: Reports of 50 dead. Greenhouse gas emissions, cause the global temperature to increase and #climatechange. This enhances the likelihood of #wildfires often with tragic results. #SendaiFramework #ResilienceForAll #ParisAgreement https://t.co/bwswEDKzoA

— UNISDR (@unisdr) July 24, 2018

In previous years, about this time of the year, I have been to Portugal to work with my good friend Jaime on some Erasmus projects.
He had to cope with temperatures well over 40 degrees, as I did a couple of years ago.

I'll be mentioning the heatwave in the first week of the new term.

Image: Alan Parkinson

The Why Factor - Antarctica

Thanks to Polar explorer Felicity Aston for the tipoff to the Why Factor programme on Antarctica.

You can listen to, or download, the podcast here.

Why would you go to the coldest place on Earth? A place mostly devoid of life, where there are rarely more than a few thousand other humans spread out across a landmass twice the size of Australia. A place whose sublime beauty is matched by its capacity to kill you, very fast.
We are talking about Antarctica. A continent which belongs to no nation has no government and is run according to an international treaty signed nearly 60 years ago.
Shabnam Grewal went there many years ago and knows the joy of being surrounded by ice blue glaciers and the hardships of working in a freezing climate. She talks to others who were drawn there too, by the beauty of the place or in search of knowledge or to test themselves and understand who they really are.

Inspirational Places

I've been fortunate to have been awarded a number of Innovative Geography Teaching Grants over the years for various projects.
They are available each year from the RGS-IBG.

This last year, I have been working on some materials with Peter Knight from Keele University related to this project, and have created a website to host them.

Modern Slavery

When was the last time you saw a slave?
Hasn't slavery been abolished.

According to this EDP article, you may have if you have recently taken your car to a hand car wash, for example, or perhaps had a haircut.
This article reinforces the thought that there may actually be more slaves now than at any time in history.

There are many people who are working in the UK who don't necessarily have freedom of movement (it may be that they are in debt, or are in a country illegally and somebody is holding their passports and other documentation.
This was returned to by the Telegraph recently, with more examples as well.

For more on your own slavery footprint, don't forget the website here.

Geog ITT support

Something for those starting out on ITT courses this year, and also for NQTs as well... Good work by Josh and Laura...

Zaria Forman

"I choose to convey the beauty as opposed to the devastation, in order to empower viewers rather than frighten them. If you can experience the sublimity of these landscapes, perhaps you will be inspired to protect and preserve them."
Zaria Forman

I'm going to be mentioning Zaria's work when we study the Polar regions this coming year.
She creates amazing large-scale ice paintings. Check out her Twitter account too.
Here she is at work:

The positive quote at the start of the post is also a link to the fact that I'll mention her in my SAGT presentation too.

Image copyright: Zaria Forman

All among the Barley

I've bought a LOT of books this year, and have read quite a few of them over the summer.
I started the summer with William Atkins' new book on Deserts, which is excellent.

The latest Melissa Harrison is a wonderful book too. It's called 'All among the Barley' and tells the story of Wych Farm, and the Mather family. The narrator is a girl called Edith.

The book features a vital feature of all good books: an excellent map at the front of the book showing key locations which helps you to visualise the relationships between different locations mentioned in the book.

It explores the changes that take place in a rural area over several years, and the arrival of technology and other changes. The characters are compelling and the story is intriguing. I particularly liked the description of the birds and flowers that populated the farm and the influence of the weather on the lives of the farm. The action is also set against the backdrop of the end of World War 2, returning (or not) soldiers, gender roles and local 'politics'.

Well worth checking out...

You can find out hundreds of useful Geography-related books, and other resources over on my GeoLibrary blog.

A summer of Geography

The months of the summer holidays have seen a never-ending number of stories which connect with the geography curriculum.
Is there an opportunity here to start the year by exploring these stories?
The heatwave was the main story through July and early August.
There were also major wildfires in a number of countries, including the USA, Spain, Portugal and Greece, where there was a tragic incident in a coastal town.
There were plenty of stories relating to Brexit of course, and our connections with the EU.
A major new "hothouse Earth" story was also in the papers.
There are a number of large scale connections in the atmosphere which may begin to break down and change.
We've also had earthquakes on Lombok and other areas, and eruptions of volcanoes, including Etna yesterday.

I've created the first slide of a collaborative Google Slide document. If you could add another slide showing one geographical event over the summer that would be great, and we could all use it.
Feel free to add other student tasks and activities as well, or ideas of what to do with the crowdsourced images...

Industrial Farming

Many people have bought books by Yuval Noah Harari, including his bestseller 'Sapiens'.

His piece in the Guardian explores the impact of industrialised farming on the world. It provides some eye-opening statistics on the scale of food production that is necessary to feed the world. Scale that down just to the UK, or any large city, and you can imagine the resources that go into ensuring that our stomachs stay full.

Something to think about the next time you push a trolley round your local supermarket...


Is Veganism the answer? Perhaps not according to this item from the Guardian today.

Image: Alan Parkinson

The Three Peaks - one big annoyance?

Many people every year complete the Three Peaks walk for charity.
There are several versions of the 3 Peaks.

One has people in cars and minibuses travelling between Snowdon, Ben Nevis and Scafell Pike. This is the National 3 Peaks Challenge.

I've completed the other one myself, some years ago. It's based in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
The three peaks are Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.
There's also a Welsh 3 Peaks Challenge.

I picked up an article from the Craven Herald: a paper which is local to the Yorkshire Dales, which had a lot unhappy people living in a village near one 'end' of the trail. They describe the 'hell' this is causing them because of anti-social behaviour. This article provides a little more detail on charity events and their impact on residents, along with a poll. Thousands of pounds are raised for charity every year by walkers completing the route.

There is a Code of Conduct which walkers are asked to adhere to for the National walk.

This is one I'll return to later...

OS in the air

There are various steps involved in creating Ordnance Survey maps, but one of the main starting points is the taking of aerial photographs.
They are G-TASK and G-FIFA.
The OS uses two planes, and these can be tracked on various FlightRadar type sites to track their routes, and you can see where they are flying.
A few weeks ago, they flew over the Countryfile Live event, where some of my fellow Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champions were helping with talks to the visitors and other

They have no doubt also been spotting lots of hidden archaeological features along the way, as was flagged up in the newspapers over the summer.

(In)famous grouse

Last week, I went up to Sheffield and stayed overnight with friends in the Peak District. We took a walk to the Strines Inn, on the edge of Sheffield for a pint of Yorkshire Pride.
Our walk took us over the grouse moors, and past a line of shooting butts, which had been made ready for clients to use over the next few weeks.

Who owns England has created an interactive map exploring who owns these upland landscapes.

The moors we walked on actually aren't featured on this map - they are just to the east of the mapped area, which belongs to the National Trust, and are owned by two individuals who own large amounts of land and will be familiar to local people.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Hunstanton South Beach questionnaire

Wayne Hemingway has been involved in a number of regeneration projects over the years, including a flat block in King's Lynn. He has now been asked to get involved in the South Beach area of Hunstanton: an area I know well.
A consultation questionnaire is currently live on the Hemingway Design website (where you can see other projects they are, or have been, involved in)

We have also visited this area each year with our Year 7s, to explore what makes Hunstanton a special place.
The South beach is the area south from the Green.

Hunstanton is a unique place with a distinctive character and rich Victorian heritage. The aim of the redevelopment is to enhance the seaside resort by re-enlivening its leisure and tourist attractions and restore its once-strong personality. This could be a driver of really positive change for the town, its economy, culture and profile and for us do this we would like your help.

Image copyright: https://www.hemingwaydesign.co.uk/hunstanton-south-beach/  

An online portal is open for the next couple of weeks.

Even if you don't know this particular area, the format of this questionnaire is very useful as it provides a range of options for the questions which are asked...

Tourist pressures - winners and losers?

On my reading list by the bed is Alda Sigmunsdóttir's excellent 'Little Book of Tourists in Iceland'

It very clearly outlines the reasons for, and impacts of, the tourist boom in Iceland since the financial crisis of 2008, and the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in 2010, which was a helpful event in the end.
Well worth getting a copy of this...

A chance to attend Dan Raven Ellison's new film premiere

You can order your ticket here. Some excellent speakers as well as the chance to be provoked by Dan.

It’s difficult to get a picture of what the United Kingdom really looks like. Imaginations and assumptions can distort decisions that affect our lives. We often hear the idea that there is simply no more room in the country. In reality, just six per cent of the UK is built on.

The UK in 100 Seconds is a provocative and thought provoking film that rearranges the United Kingdom's land into 32 categories and divides them over 100 seconds. Each second equates to 1% of what the country looks like from the air.

Made by guerrilla geographer Daniel Raven-Ellison and filmmaker Jack Smith, the film was made by travelling from Tongue in the north of Scotland to the New Forest in the south of England. Each second of the film covers roughly one metre of Raven-Ellison's walk through moorland and peat bogs, down a runway and over a dump.

Made in collaboration with Friends of the Earth, the film gives an honest reflection of what land looks like and how it is used in the United Kingdom and raises some challenging questions. A major inspiration for Raven-Ellison making the film is the amount of space that is used for feeding livestock and the question - what if we made more space for nature?

Following the screening, there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers and a series of six micro-talks and a forum with the audience. We'll be discussing what the UK could look like in the future and what the effects would be if we made more space for nature.

Confirmed panellists include:
Alasdair Rae, a geographer and expert on land use at Sheffield University
Andrew Simms, author of the books Cancel the Apocalypse and Ecological Debt
Beth Collier, a nature-based psychotherapist

More panellists to be announced.

Join the discussion using the hashtags #UKin100Seconds and #MoreSpaceForNature.

GCSE Geography Results

Well done, and good luck to all those getting their GCSE results today...

Here's the distribution of grades in Geography according to OFQUAL.

Interesting that 3 is the grade which the highest number of students achieved (was true of a few other subjects too), and just over 10 000 students getting a Grade 9.

Use the link above to analyse the results and compare with other subjects.

GI Learner Conference - Ghent - Day 3 and 4

This has been in draft for a couple of months, so I'll get this posted...

I've been involved with this project for the last three years.

GI Learner has developed a complete learning line to effectively implement geospatial thinking in secondary education.
We develop – using the building blocks included in the learning line – a basic understanding and comprehension of geospatial thinking: what is it, what can I do with it, how do I learn to work with it.
A learning line is basically a progression of skills which runs for 6 years (two x three year blocks because of the funding that Erasmus provides)

We have developed a series of competencies which develop over time.

The project is coming to an end, and we held a final meeting and conference in Ghent where we outlined how the project had developed to date, and showcased the resources that we have produced to teachers.

We have published some interesting papers and it's been good to have been an author on one of them.
Here are link to the main papers that we posted near the start of the project, as we were developing our thinking.

On the 3rd day of our meeting, it was the conference itself, at the University of Gent's Het Pand centre.

Thanks to Brendan, Helen, Sophie and David from the UK for coming along. Also good to meet Mathijs Booden in the flesh. 
Thanks to the other teachers from various European teachers who came along on the day.

We introduced some of the resources, and gave people the chance to use them and feed back. I also talked through the thinking behind the work that I did on the local area resources.
This was an adaptation of work presented at the GI Forum in Salzburg.

You can take a look for yourself and see the outcomes.

Images: Luc Zwartjes / Alan Parkinson

Institute of Civil Engineers

Thanks to Will Fry for the tipoff to an interesting-sounding exhibition which has been set up to celebrate the centenary of the Institute of Civil Engineers.
It is called Invisible Superheroes.

It looks like there is a hefty dose of Geography in there, with a  number of different zones to the exhibition, which runs through 2018.

These include Smart Infrastructure, Environmental Impacts, and Connected Communities.
There is a suite of superheroes, and also a link to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Pop in if you're near Westminster.

GCT: Galapagos Conservation Trust

I hope you caught the recent Monty Halls programme when he took his family to the Galapagos Islands for three months, and carried out a range of research and other projects while there.
Here's some information from the Galapagos Conservation Trust.

GCT president, Monty Halls returned to "his favourite place on Earth" with his family to investigate the wonders and challenges that both define and threaten Galapagos. If you haven't seen the show yet, you can catch up on Channel 4 - we think it is definitely worth a watch! Throughout the three-part series, Monty visited some of the projects that GCT support in Galapagos.

In the very first episode, Monty's wife, Tam, joined our partner Juan Pablo Munoz to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in Galapagos. We're working with a number of partners to solve the issue ranging from researching the impacts with Galapagos National Park (GNP) to supporting the single-use plastic ban. The family also joined an annual coastal clean-up of Santa Cruz island. Getting the whole community involved in the fight against plastic pollution is incredibly important. We're working with community groups such as Grupo Eco Cultural Organizado (GECO) to spread the message.
Find out more about GECO and a plastic pollution free Galapagos here. 
In the programme, Monty's daughters, Isla and Molly, had a close encounter with a Galapagos giant tortoise. Despite being iconic, we're still learning about the lives of Galapagos giant tortoises, such as what happens to them when they are hatchlings. We are trying to find out what happens to them during these 'Lost Years' through our Galapagos Tortoise Movement Ecology Programme
Another key issue highlighted in the show is the threat to endangered sharks. Monty joined a Galapagos National Park research trip to Wolf and Darwin islands that tagged and photographed whale sharks. The Galapagos Whale Shark Project aims to learn more about these elusive gentle giants in order to effectively conserve them. For example, 90% of the whale sharks in Galapagos are thought to be pregnant, but more research is needed to find out why and where they go to give birth.

Transition: new on Teachit Geography

I've produced a new resource on the theme of Transition for the TeachitGeography website.
This is my latest contribution to the website, and you can read it here. It's not Geography specific, so let other colleagues know who may have some hand in transition arrangements.

There are 20 ideas, many of which you may already have thought of, or are perhaps doing. Would be interested to know if you find particular ideas useful.

Also check out some Year 7 materials that have been specially organised for you.

National GetOutside Day

As regular readers of the blog will know, I've been working as an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion this year.

The latest activity is at the end of September.

Here's the details, from the Ordnance Survey.

On Sunday 30 September, National GetOutside Day, organised by Ordnance Survey, is aiming to get 1 million people active outdoors across the UK. Even if it's just for an hour. Because we all know an active outdoor lifestyle helps you live longer, stay younger and enjoy life more.

With the clocks going back, days getting shorter, there's no better time to put down those screens and spend some quality time with family and friends. The outdoors is free, the benefits are endless, so let's get everyone outside and have some fun!

Join in at www.os.uk/getoutsideday

ESOL Planning - the beginning of some work...

We had a meeting a month or so before the end of term, where the heads of certain subjects in the Junior school met to discuss the provision that we make in our individual subjects for the growing number of students in the school who have first languages other than English. We have students from around 10 countries in our school community, and they are given some excellent support by my ESOL colleague Mr. Williams, and members of the Learning Support department, and other staff including those in the boarding houses and the International School.

Mr. Williams went through some of the training he had attended, which had identified two main elements to learning a new language:

BICS - Basic Interpersonal Communication Skill The speech of everyday life. Acquired through speaking and listening in everyday situations. Takes one or two years to acquire BICS and become confident speakers of English in most situations.

CALP - Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency The language we use in school learning such as thoughts, concepts and processes. CALP is learnt rather than acquired. Mainly found in written texts and with fewer visual supports. Some research suggests it takes 7-10 years to develop and for many EAL learners progress stalls after 3-4 years.

Second language development research by Jim Cummings was referred to.

We've already done some work on the place of geographical vocabulary in learning the subject. This is important both literally (geographical terms which need to be understood and used for exam success), but also

Has anyone done any particular work in this area and would like to work together or share some ideas?

The Light in the Dark

Looking forward to this book. I've been very taken by Horatio's previous work, and his recent Icebreaker book was excellent. This will be a good reader to take into the winter months.

RIP Kofi Annan

China's Belt and Road

One of my recent jobs has been to create some digital materials for the new 'Progress in Geography' book. This has been completed now, and am looking forward to seeing the end result.

The Guardian had  published a useful article which outlined the main themes of this project which has been likened to a new "Silk Road".
Along the route, there is further investment.
The Guardian has published another very useful article, with amazing images, of a planned new development in Sri Lanka, which threatens the economic prosperity of Colombo.

Image: Alan Parkinson

Head and Shoulders

Head and Shoulders are launching a bottle which is made from recycled ocean plastics. I'm still waiting for the promised Fairly Liquid bottle, or perhaps I missed it already...New Head & Shoulders Bottle To Be Made With Recycled Beach Plastic


This looks rather good, but I really can't buy any more books for a while...

Stories in all landscapes begin below the surface of the earth. Bedrock speaks first through the variety of soils, plants and animals that live above ground, then shapes the way people farm land, worship their gods and build villages, towns and cities.
To understand the distinct quality of any place, first we must peel back the skin of the earth.

Adapted from the acclaimed BBC Radio 3 series, Cornerstones invites writers from around the world to consider the ground beneath their feet. Distinguished by a strong sense of place and characterised by close, personal observation, the pieces in this collection take us away from the familiar surfaces of life and express the awe that we feel when encountering the invisible heft, grain and rub of the subterranean world.

From Lewisian gneiss, granite, flint, millstone grit, Red Sandstone, quartz, meteorites, into caves and through the streets of the ‘Granite City’, across Siberia, the Jurassic Coast, Samiland and the Weald, Cornerstones is an extraordinary journey through hidden landscapes, both familiar and wild, rural and urban.

The Radio 3 series is part of the ESSAYS strand, and some of the programmes are still available to listen to on iPlayer.
Here's the result of a SEARCH on the title.

For example, here's Alan Garner on FLINT

And here's Sara Wheeler on her first visit to the Canadian Arctic.


A film which connects with Robert MacFarlane's book of the same title...

Sense of Place

The importance of a balanced curriculum

A great read from Simon Hinchliffe here...

Progress in Geography

One of the projects I've just finished has been some digital materials which go along with the new Hodder KS3 series 'Progress in Geography'.
The pupil book has been published, and is hopefully finding its way to the purchasers.

There will be some student workbooks to go with the unit.

The first chapter's worth of digital support materials have been made available free of charge by clicking the link in this embedded tweet...

Also follow this link to find out the details of November's Hodder 'A' level Hazards Student conferences, which have been a fixture of our school year for some time.

Global Learning Programme Report

I'm pleased to have been involved with the Global Learning Programme in a small way. I was potentially going to be heavily involved via the GA as I had an interview all scheduled to do some work as a national / regional coordinator but was then asked by Claire Kyndt to work with her at King's Ely, so all that changed...
King's Ely was later named a Centre of Excellence as part of the Global Learning Programme. We were also featured in the GA Magazine with a full page profile of the work we were doing within the department. I also wrote an online CPD course on our Global Village.

The Global Learning Programme was a programme supporting the teaching and learning about global issues in key stages 2 and 3, funded by UK government, that ran from 2013 to 2018.

Together with curriculum support, resources and training, the Global Learning Programme (GLP) built a national network of schools committed to equipping their students to make a positive contribution to a globalised world. More than 7800 schools participated in the programme in England, and over 900 in Wales, with many experiencing the positive impact that global learning can have on pupils’ engagement, knowledge, skills and values.
The report on the impact of the Global Learning Programme has now been published on the GA website. Thanks to John Hopkin for flagging that up.
May be worth a read for those exploring the potential for continuing to engage with the materials and ideas that underpinned the project. SDGs are still vital for curriculum thinking in Geography and will be for the next decade.

Download the National Research Report on the GLP, compiled by John Hopkin for the Geographical Association (PDF link)

Check the GA page for more reports and plenty of case studies and resources.

Very pleased to have got a mention in the final report.


As part of my GetOutside Champions work with the Ordnance Survey, I have the chance to do various exciting things. There are various outdoor events which the Ordnance Survey is represented at this year, such as Countryfile Live last week.
I've been sent an OS Trail model GPS to check out. This can be seen here.
The device has a rugged rubberised case, with finger grips moulded into it, making it easy and comfortable to hold. The screen is smaller than an iPhone or typical Android device, but is bright and clear.
The device needs to be connected to WiFi to set up (and download any updates) This was the first thing thing my device did, and it took a while to get up and running.
The touch screen is fairly responsive, although sometimes requires a slightly harder 'press' than a smartphone screen, although it is designed to be tougher, and water and dust resistant, and also to be seen in bright sunshine. The on-screen keyboard is a little small, and needs a little care to select the correct letter.
Battery life seemed to be very good and one charge lasted for quite a few days of light use.

OS Trail GPS detailed view

Some users will be particularly requiring some of the additional features.
There is a feature which will guide rescuers to the device should there be a need to do that, which might give some users reassurance. This is called SeeMe - see details below.
Map tiles can be downloaded to a device using a free piece of software which needs to be downloaded for Mac or Windows.

Trail also includes advanced features through FullConnect™, including Ant+™, Bluetooth® Smart, GPRS and Wi-Fi, so you can easily connect accessories and share your location and performance with friends in real-time.
You also get exclusive access to SeeMe along with a 6-month free subscription to get you started. Use SeeMe to broadcast your location with up to 20 people and share with them your routes and stats including distance, altitude, heart rate, power and more. You can also send your exact location via email and SMS should you get into trouble, with I.C.E (In Case of Emergency).
On top of all this, you get OS 1:250k base mapping for the whole of Great Britain, 6 x OS 1:25k free map tiles, a 6-month free subscription to SeeMe and a 3-year free subscription to our award-winning OS Maps.

A great option for those wanting a hand held GPS device.


Fairphone is a smartphone for those who care about their phone and the impact it might have on the planet.
Most smartphones contain a wealth of minerals and components which require mining in conflict zones.

There have been issues with worker welfare, and also the extraction of key minerals.

Smartphones contain a lot of precious metals which are sometimes in short supply, and require particular methods of extraction which might affect the environment, or those people involved as a workforce.

Apple has a number of robots which are able to extract these, and I have shared this information on previous posts, with the development of Liam and Daisy.

A better phone is a phone made better.

This work is often framed as being environmentally friendly, but the method of production doesn't encourage this.
We explore these products as part of our 'Geography of our Stuff' unit.

Edible Histories (and Geographies)

Thanks to Justin Woolliscroft for the tipoff to this site, which has the stories of some of the things we eat (and drink)

Thy include fish and chips...

The sandwich...

And the curry...

This will go into the list of resources for my 'You are what you eat' topic...

Levison Wood at the Royal Geographical Society

Lake District National Park

Via Val Vannet
Working out a way to make use of this...
Poetry by Tony Walsh 

We have collaborated with northern poet Tony Walsh to create this unique short film, ‘Reflecting On The Lakes’. The unique film and poem celebrates what it’s like to live, work and love the National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and will inspire viewers to help us protect and care for this truly special place. The film sets out to shine a light on the real Lake District; celebrating all there is to love about the National Park, and declares: ‘it’s where farming shaped the landscape and where landscape shaped our lives, it’s now honoured by UNESCO with a badge we’ll wear with pride'. ‘Reflecting On The Lakes’, features scenes from across the Lake District which form the backdrop to a passionate piece of poetry written and performed by leading spoken word poet, Tony Walsh.


Here we go again...
But it's OK, I fixed it for you....

A is for Angel of the North

The first in a new series of coins has been released by the Royal Mint. They represent the letters A-Z.

There is a collection card, and you can buy the coins as they are released or hope they turn up in your change...
It's called the Great British Coin Hunt.

A is the Angel of the North.

What landmarks or cultural icons would you choose for your UK A-Z of places and objects?

I've used this idea before, and showed some of the designs that are put onto 50p coins, and then provided a blank 50p outline for students to design a coin which represents the landscape of 'The Fens', having spent some time exploring it.

New OS Maps app feature: contours in 3D flyover

A new addition to the excellent 3D flyover feature in the Ordnance Survey Maps app is now available to subscribers.
Contours are visible when using the 3D features.
A further update which makes this an even more essential app for when you #GetOutside

I've also added a new affiliate button to the blog, as you will see in the right hand sidebar of the blog, and this has also been added to this post only.
Are you thinking of buying a new OS map, or subscribing to OS maps? If so, please just click that link there and I'll be paid a small referral fee. It won't cost you any more... If you want to buy plenty of maps for the start of the new school year, then feel free :)

Fanta: a global story

Thanks to geographer extraordinaire Joseph Kerski for the tipoff to this StoryMap made by Global-Rural.

It tells the story of Fanta: the soft drink, and its global connections...

Maths in Geography - numeracy videos

Thanks to Rob Chambers for the link to the Maths in Geography videos which have been made and shared by WJEC. These look like they will be useful.


Don't forget to get involved with the Royal Geographical Society's #choosegeography campaign by explaining why you chose geography? It's obvious that we're all LivingGeography of course.
Here's the new Director of the RGS-IBG: Joe Smith talking about the value of choosing geography.

a different view

‘... to be educated is not to have arrived at a destination, it is to travel with a different view’ (Peters, 1965)

Ten years ago, I started working for the Geographical Association, and worked on the team which delivered on the promises in the Action Plan for Geography.
One of the outcomes from this was the GA's 'manifesto' for school geography, which remains influential, and some of the ideas in there are still an important part of shaping the thinking of teachers. It was called 'a different view'.

One of the resources that went alongside the pamphlet was a video. There were two versions: long and short, and I made them over a period of months using the Animoto Pro video editing tool. It got its premiere at the GA Conference in 2009.

You can still watch the video here:

A Different View: Promoting Geography from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

Follow this link to visit the page on the GA's website, which has a whole range of supporting resources.


 Lewis has a private jet.

His lifestyle and employment has an impact on the planet far out of proportion to the average person.

By picking up some plastic off a beach he is raising the profile of this current issue, and has been praised for it.

Are many geographers also 'guilty' of teaching about the virtues of particular activities, but not backing it up with their own lifestyle or day-to-day actions?

A reminder of the importance of geographical thinking... Here's Peter Jackson on this sort of thing...

The power of geographical thinking from The Geographical Association on Vimeo.

Thought for the Day

"This is a lovely church Vicar"
"It's Norman"
"This is a lovely church Norman..."

The Chuckle Brothers
RIP Barry

OU Geology Course

A new free Open University Geology course is available for those wanting to keep their brains active over the summer.

The Earth in my Pocket is a 4 week course which provides an introduction to geological processes.

Boyan Slat: the trials begin

With my Year 8 students, we have been following the development of Boyan Slat's booms which are designed to capture plastic which is being swirled around the Great Pacific Gyre.

We watched the TED talk that Boyan confidently gave back in 2012, since when investment has allowed trials of the booms which will be able to collect huge volumes of plastic soup from the places where they are installed.

The Great Ocean CleanUp website is tracking the progress of trials of the booms, as they are being

There are some interesting resources and ideas on Boyan Slat's website.

More to come on this during the next term...

Street Orientation

An interesting app, which Bob Lang and Brendan Conway told me about. It visualises the orientation of streets at any location.
I had a play, and it's an interesting result, although the granularity of zoom means that if you zoom out to the the whole of Norwich, for example, you essentially get streets from every sort of direction and no preferred orientation...

London Curriculum

I've been looking at the London Curriculum recently, as I have been planning a new unit for my KS3 teaching, and filtered some in for some cover work as well in the last few weeks of the summer term.
It's a document which you can access here if you enter some school information.

There are 3 sections:
Green London?
Mapping London
My London

It was originally available for London Schools, and involved the Royal Geographical Society and a few familiar names in the authoring.

I produced a related unit on Mapping London as part of an RGS funded piece of work. There were also links with the LondonMapper work I did with Worldmapper as well.

Worth a look at both of these. I'm introducing a unit on the Stories of London next year, which uses some of the excellent work of Kate Stockings with the Museum of London as well, and of course there'll be a chance to share other ideas related to the capital city.

Image: Alan Parkinson

The People's Walk for Wildlife

Not OK Movie

Here's a film that is opening soon in Iceland.
It explores the disappearance of a small ice feature....

Glaciers have been distinctive features of the Icelandic landscape ever since human settlement on the island 1200 years ago. But since the early 20th century Iceland’s 400+ glaciers have been melting steadily, now losing roughly 11 billion tons of ice every year; scientists predict that all of Iceland’s glaciers will be gone by 2200. One of Iceland’s smallest known glaciers is named “Ok.” Not Ok is its story. This is not a tale of spectacular, collapsing ice. Instead, it is a little film about a small glacier on a low mountain--a mountain who has been observing humans for a long time and has a few things to say to us.

Meet the Better World Detectives

For the last few months I've been working with Tui on some education resources.

This has involved some work at KS2 and KS3 level, but my focus has been on the KS2 materials.

These have now been made available as an updated suite of resources for KS2 pupils, which involves 6 fully resourced sessions. 

There is an accent on sustainability, which connects with the company's approach of promoting sustainable tourism.
An e-mail is required to download the resource pack, which you should know runs to 274Mb as it includes a range of assets including videos and multimedia, as well as teacher resources to print off. These are fun, and well packaged materials, with nods to social media use, and themes which will be familiar to many young people.
The lessons introduce students to a fictional island first, before exploring plastic in the oceans, coral reefs, and the impact of tourism on local communities and people.

Say hello to the Better World Detectives, and you may find a use for some of these resources within your KS2 curriculum. There are also ideas that are transferrable upwards into KS3.

And enjoy your holidays!