Unlocking Sustainable Cities

Thanks to David Alcock for the link to this attractive site by Paul Chatterton of the University of Leeds.

Click to unlock and you will see a manifesto for changing cities unfold before your eyes, with a chance to sample chapters from a book of the same name.

One particular section of the site which I've blogged about before is a Civic Plan for a Climate Emergency.

Surrey Geography Network Meetings

For those who are in Surrey or within easy reach, Brendan Conway has shared details of what looks like a very useful series of events in the next few months, and into 2020.
As you can see, there are some excellent speakers including the 'mighty' Simon Oakes and the GA's very own Alan Kinder.

Details for booking are at the bottom of the blogpost.

Surrey Geography Network meetings 2019-20

These are designed to help you to address current issues whilst at the same time networking with other geography leaders / teachers.
The meetings will take place at Notre Dame School KT11 1HA from 1.30 to 4.30. The dates, speakers and their topics are as follows​:

Tuesday 19th November: Enabling Data Skills in the Geography Curriculum, Dr Simon Oakes - former chief examiner, author and education consultant

The session will present some excellent ideas for embedding data skills into Geography lessons. It will draw on Simon's Royal Geographical Society funded project work as well as his own wealth of experience as a chief examiner, teacher and text book writer. The session is designed to help you to develop students' confidence and their ability to use their geographical knowledge to make the most of available data.

Tuesday 10th March: Planning your Geography Curriculum, Damian Gray - Chartered Geographer and Head of Geography, Sunbury Manor School

Damian will illustrate how he has planned his department's geography curriculum to meet the requirements of Ofsted's new inspection framework which necessitates the need for subject leads to be able to justify the quality of their educational provision and lesson sequence choices.

Monday 22nd June: The new Education Inspection Framework (EIF) - What this means for Geography Curriculum Leaders, Alan Kinder - Chief Executive of the Geographical Association. 

Alan is also a Director of the Council for Subject Associations, British Council consultant and a virtual editorial board member to the SecEd educational newspaper. He is a member of the Council for British Geography and on the advisory board for the University of Sheffield's Geography’s Department.
The session will offer advice and share ideas as to how best to meet the new demands on geography subject leaders of the new EIF with specific reference made to the support provided by the Geographical Association.​

If you wish to book a place, please email Katy Gill (courses@schoolsnetwork.co.uk) who will allocate you a place and send you an invoice. 

The cost of the 3 meetings, one per term, remains £160 in total.

D3 Website now live

The website for the Developing Digital Data literacy (D3) project is now live.

More to come as the project develops.

Ordnance Survey Puzzle Book 2

Coming out next week, and the perfect Christmas gift for the geographer in your life. The first one became a bestseller.
The Ordnance Survey Puzzle Tour of Britain Book 2019

More to come next week when I get my copy...

Blogging is 25 years old

Apparently according to the Observer it is 25 years since the first blog by Dave Winer.
I've been blogging since 2002, so that's 17 years of writing and publishing thoughts and ideas. 
I've had (or still have) over a dozen blogs, and my main one is this one of course.
Why not start a blog if you haven't already and start draft posts whenever you have an idea, then finish and post when you get a moment.

Digimap v2

Having an early play with this today. 
A new, improved version 2 of the GA Gold Award winning Digimap for Schools.

Information from Edina.

Digimap for Schools - the definitive global digital atlas for schools

The Digimap for Schools Team are pleased to announce the imminent arrival of a new version of their award winning schools service.

This new version has all the mapping products and functionality Digimap for School users are already familiar with (Ordnance Survey mapping, historical data and aerial photography for GB, drawing tools, image library, webinar and training support), but adds:

Global mapping
- incorporation of the beautiful and authoritative Collins Bartholomew World Panorama product providing a definitive global school atlas

- the same wonderful Ordnance Survey data for Great Britain and beyond GB for the rest of the world, detailed street level mapping from Open Street Map:

An updated and modern intuitive User Interface has been added - this is similar to the one on the DataNation website which is an optional upgrade for schools who don't already have Digimap for Schools perhaps. It also includes a useful additional option to find your location and zoom to it, rather than using the search, or drawing a rectangle as currently.

The new version of Digimap for Schools will be available from November 2019 at http://digimapforschools.edina.ac.uk

Access to the old version will remain available from the same address.
The existing Digimap for Schools version will remain supported until January 2021.
Schools resubscribing to Digimap for Schools before March 2020 will be able to chose between the old version and our new enhanced Global version.
From March 2020 subscribers will only be able to take our new enhanced service.
(Re)subscription will be on a rolling twelve month basis as is the case now. It will not be possible to subscribe to both new and old versions.

As always, the Digimap for Schools Team are happy to respond to any questions or concerns you may have over on the website.

Climate Breakdown

Paul Turner has been hard at work developing some ideas which he has been trialling at Bedales School. 
He has now shared them on Google Drive.

He asked a while back about some ideas for a scheme of work on Climate Change / Breakdown / Crisis.
This has now been turned into a 14 lesson scheme of work which is an excellent framework for some climate change lessons.


You can also play this Fatboy Slim mix up which samples Greta Thunberg's speech into his track 'Right here Right now'.

Read this as well - plenty of pages to see in the Amazon Look Inside preview.

Open Geography Story Map

Spent today exploring some Open Data options for Geographers.
It's part of the work I'm doing on the Developing Digital Data Literacy (D3) ERASMUS project.

I came across a few new resources.

http://geoportal.statistics.gov.uk/ has a range of Open Data and other interesting bits and pieces.
Here's a nice StoryMap - view full screen for the best effect.

2020 Calendar from Time for Geography

Now that we're all boycotting the Countryfile Calendar for the mouse and the apple furore (only joking), you'll need a different calendar for your classroom wall.
Luckily the folks at Time for Geography have produced a special calendar marking the end of a decade of Geography 2010-2020.

The Time for Geography Team have brought together 12 iconic images, capturing some of the most important moments, changes, challenges and innovations in a decade of geography!
To help students on their journey, they have included key 2020 dates and events for geographers:
University open days
Public lectures
Conferences, workshops, webinars and CPD events

On every page, interactive QR codes provide access to accompanying Time for Geography videos and resources.
Order your copy from this link and also find out more information.

Disclaimer: Other calendars are available :) I'm holding out for a Professor Iain Stewart one.

The Americas


New series started last night with Simon Reeve - well worth catching up with.

GPS at the scale of your living room

This article was shared by Mike Gould from esri.

It describes the technology being used and developed by Amazon and Apple which uses the latest wifi, including the potential for new file sharing and other capabilities.

There are interesting connections with the Internet of (School) Things project (I was part of a team which developed this some years ago, along with Intel and others)

Be an African finance minister for a day

Imagine - you're the Finance Minister of an African country for the day, could you spread the oil wealth fairly and effectively?

If you were in charge for just one day, how would you manage its economy?

Take the seat of Finance Minister of Fuela, an African country that's recently received $10 million Fuelan Dollars from its oil; with only four policy areas competing for the funds, which area will you invest in?
From Open Learn.

Geography really Matters posters

Gill Miller's GA Presidential year is underway, and the theme she has chosen is Geography really Matters.

As part of this, she has set Geographical groups and GA committees a challenge to show how Geography matters to them, and to others within the community.
Two posters have been designed up to display in locations which might not be the usual locations. Rather than putting them up in your classroom and corridors, why not get them into other places?

Primary Poster (also could be used by Secondary)

Secondary Poster (also could be used by Primary)

Gill has just joined Twitter as well, so feel free to follow her on @gillmillergeog

For the posters, you need to go to the GA website to find them, but they are here for you to download, print and distribute as you see fit.
Let's get the message out to more people at this critical time when big decisions are being made by our Politicians.

GA Presidents Group

I've just finished my first month as GA Junior Vice President.

It's been interesting seeing the GA from a different angle again, having previously been employed at Solly St, including leading numerous CPD events, and serving on the Secondary Phase Committee for 15 years, and of course being a GA member for many years and attending Conference.

There have been several meetings which have taken place, some of which I have had to give apologies for, or had the chance to take part in virtually, and I managed to make my first Presidents Group meeting earlier in the week, where the Presidents in the current cycle, along with Alan Kinder and the Honorary Treasurer meet to consider matters of importance to the Governing Body.

This highlighted the need for real strategic thinking, considering matters well ahead of time. I won't be sharing any specific details of the outcomes of course at the moment, but there are plenty of interesting developments to keep the Association as vital as it has been for the previous 126 years.
Don't forget that I am writing biographies of all former Presidents of the GA, over on my GA Presidents blog as well.

This week I also had correspondence from Grainne Lenehan who provided me with images of three Presidents who had a connection with Marlborough College, where she is the archivist, filling in a few of the gaps that I had identified in terms of images of Presidents.

How climate friendly is your community?

Friends of the Earth has a checker website.

Enter your postcode to find out how your local authority / area score. Here's Breckland's score.

I certainly contribute towards underperformance with my need to drive a car to work and elsewhere. The bus network is sparse to say the least.

Geography Education Research Conference

The RGS-IBG has a new event at UWE for those interested in Geography education research.

Tickets are available

This is in the first week of my Christmas break and was originally keen to go, thinking it might be hosted by the RGS-IBG, but Bristol is a little further than I have time for.

Time for Geography - some new videos

Always a good day when there are some new Time for Geography videos to watch.
The latest video has been released.
Temperature Deciduous Woodlands are the focus for this video.

Together with Dr Sarah Arnold from the University of Greenwich Natural Resources Institute, the films investigate different components of the UK's climatic climax:
  • The process of ecological succession
  • Biotic (living) and abiotic (non-living) components
  • Habitat layers
  • Influence of topography on the spatial distribution of species


The GA's Secondary Phase Committee has a Twitter feed where stories of interest to secondary geography teachers are shared.
It currently has just over 900 followers and would be good to see if we can make that over 1000.

Click here to read the tweets and follow the account.

The SPC also has a Facebook page which is now starting to attract likes.
Follow it here.

South Georgia work continuing

I have been working on some resources for the South Georgia Heritage Trust for the last few months, ahead of a soft launch of some of the ideas.

I've been writing resources for a series of enquiries about issues related to the islands in the South Atlantic.

The resource contains a series of key questions and will be shown for the first time in a few weeks at the Scottish Association of Geography Teacher's Conference in Dollar, near Stirling.

Here's a drone video from South Georgia to get a flavour of the landscape.


Scott Base rebuild - an interesting project

This is the second Antarctic story of the week here.

The Scott base, operated by New Zealand has come to the end of its useful life, and is no longer meeting the needs of the people who work there, or modern standards on environmental and other levels.
A new project is going to involve rebuilding the base: an eight year project.

The proposed project will cost 250 million dollars apparently, and represents a major investment in the future of New Zealand's interest in the continent, and its scientific.

Inside Government Seminar

Last year, I presented at the Inside Government seminar in London, chaired by Alex Standish and with contributions from RGS/GA, OCR and teachers including Paul Turner. It was an interesting day, and my presentation was later shared on this blog.

This year, I've been traded in for a younger model, and Rob Chambers is doing a session on technology in geography teaching.

The details of the session can be found here.

Not a cheap day out, but plenty of interesting sessions once again.

Prisoners of Geography - the illustrated book

An illustrated version of Prisoners of Geography is coming out at the end of the month. It looks rather good.

Here's the promotional video for you to see the artwork.

It apparently tells an abridged story / version of the book with interesting illustrations.

IMD Map by Rob Fry

Rob Fry has shared a map experiment on Github which visualises IMD data in an interesting way. Mouse over a Super Output Area and a set of sliders will show how that area ranks on a series of areas and indices. Well worth a look by those exploring inequality.

Bruges for D3

A couple of weeks ago, I started off on the first of two ERASMUS projects which will involve me in doing a great deal of work and writing over the next three years, representing King's Ely.
It is called D3: Developing Digital Data Literacy. A new website area is coming soon, along with a new logo.

I travelled via Eurostar to Bruges, via Brussels - always a smooth journey, and checked into the hotel by the railway station before an evening wander around the city, including some visits to locations from the film 'In Bruges'.
I know the city well, having visited several times on previous ERASMUS projects.

The following morning, I met up with the partners. I had worked with several of them many times before, but it was lovely to have three new partners for this project, which means three new opportunities to visit new places and have new perspectives and challenges.

YouthMetre was the original project which we are building on with some school resources and teacher training materials.

We are going to be working on OpenData projects. If you know of any excellent new OpenData Sources please get in touch with me.

Here are the partners outside Sint-Lodewijkscollege where we were meeting. We had 2 days of meetings and also some social time in the city, including a walk up the Belfort, and some restaurants around the edge of the city, as well as some classic views and a few ales.

We made excellent progress on working through the key outputs we will create over the next two years, and started to plan what we are going to be doing for the next six months ahead of our next meeting in Sicily.
I will share some of the outcomes here of course, as I have done with the previous projects that I have been involved with.

Looking forward to opening the door to some new learning....

Image of Bruges by Alan Parkinson

GA Professional Passport and Awards

Launched after a long period of development and pilots, this is a new option for those teachers wanting to receive additional credit for their work.

The GA is excited to announce the launch of the GA Professional Passport and Awards which recognise teachers who reflect deeply and critically on their professional development. 

 The GA Professional Passport provides teachers with an online portfolio (via PebblePad) to store and curate evidence of their professional development. However, it also provides a framework to support the identification of, and reflection on, the impact of these CPD experiences on teaching and learning, helping to move CPD from being a one-off event to a sustained and genuinely developmental experience. Having engaged with the GA Professional Passport, some teachers may want to submit aspects of their portfolios to gain formal accreditation. 

There are two levels of award: the GA Professional Award and the GA Enhanced Professional Award.

CPD, Curriculum and Marketing Manager Rebecca Kitchen said:

“This is a very exciting initiative which is available to all GA members. The GA Professional Passport is completely personal, following the teacher rather than the school or department and so is suitable for all teachers of geography, regardless of career stage or context. Teachers who engaged with the pilot really enjoyed taking the time to reflect on the CPD experiences that they had engaged with and felt professionally challenged by the process.”

Find out more details here.
The different awards have slighly different criteria as shown below.
You can submit and pay for an award at any time but there are three moderation windows per year. 
For 2019 / 2020 these windows are:
  • Monday 21 October – Monday 4 November 2019
  • Monday 10 February – Monday 2 March 2020
  • Monday 18 May – Monday 1 June 2020
Your submission will be moderated in the next available window and you can expect to hear the outcome approximately two weeks after the window closes.
For each level of the award you will find a workbook within your GA Professional Passport.  You should choose the evidence from your Passport which demonstrates that you have met the criteria. Please be aware that this evidence will be shared with the moderators for assessment. Further support, guidance and exemplification can be found on PebblePad.
2019/2020 Costs
There is no limit to the number of times you can apply for an award. There is a fee, each time, of £20 for a GA Professional Award and £45 to submit for a GA Enhanced Professional Award. Awards are date stamped.
For further information about any aspect of the GA Professional Award, please contact info@geography.org.uk

NZ Civil Defence - ShakeOut

I've been familiar with the California ShakeOut exercise for some years now (and I even have the t-shirt thanks to Richard Allaway) - this takes place on October the 17th.

The New Zealand Civil Defence exercise is taking place on October the 17th - the same date.

Check the resources on the page.

It falls within half-term this year otherwise, as in previous years, we would be taking part.

National GetOutside Day

Today is National GetOutside Day. 

The weather has not been ideal here in Norfolk today, but have managed to get out between the showers and hoping the rain clears later for a photography trip to a nearby linseed field.

Gapminder and Factfulness in action

Looking good from Matt. We will be kicking off with this later in the term.

New IMD data

New data have been released showing the latest results on the Indices of Multiple Deprivation for each of the census data collection areas called LSOAs (Super Output Areas)
There are over 30 000 of these, and apparently 8 of the very 'poorest' areas in the country are in Blackpool.
Parallel have produced an interactive map showing the data in 2D and 3D form as with their previous map showing an earlier version of the data.


Thursday this week saw the naming ceremony for the new British Antarctic Survey research ship, the Sir David Attenborough. It was a reminder that asking the public their opinion is a bad idea as it would have been called Boaty McBoatface if the public vote was actually followed through with.
I suggested Tom Crean for the name at the time.

We have been in discussions with British Antarctic Survey to get someone in to speak to the students, and this would be excellent with this renewed interest, and also to coincide with our unit on the Antarctic.

Simon Armitage, the new Poet Laureate, and a geography graduate no less, published a new poem on the same day. It recasts the ship as a modern day Ark... exploring the impacts of climatic change.
It can be read on Simon's own website page, as a PDF

Later that day, Simon then visited Jamie and the Encounter Edu team...

Ark: copyright Simon Armitage 

Image: Copyright BAS Press Office.

Surging Seas

An alternative to the Firetree Flood Maps, which has been around for a while (it has a US focus, but the maps are worldwide) They seem to have been 'discovered' by a lot of people this week and are all over social media, but have been out for a while. They are also not without their issues, and shouldn't be taken literally as meaning this WILL happen.... but are being described in that way.

This map shows the possible impact on the Ely area.
You can see the 'potential impact' on the Fens here of a 7 foot increase in sea level. The default imperial units gives away the site's American origins. The Environment Agency's maps are probably more reliable in terms of the actual flood risk.


The RGS-IBG launched an app today for schools, with links through to useful content. It's FREE of course.

It can be downloaded as iOS and Android versions.

Climate Change

I have been sorting through a range of resources which relate to Climate Change.

A few months ago, Leo Hickman wrote about the change in the style guide for 'The Guardian' in terms of how climate change was going to be referred to.

Margaret Atwood wrote a piece in 'The Independent' back in July 2015 which I remembered about when collating some bits and pieces. This is worth revisiting.

I've put together a fairly new Pinterest board as well, with a growing range of images related to the UN Climate Change Education accreditation and advocacy.

Also had my picture taken for inclusion in another magazine, to publicise the educcate Global UN Climate Change Teacher accreditation programme. I'll share that when it's published and I see a copy.

Also some useful signs from the Rainforest Alliance

Image taken by Jordan Day 

2040 - Australian documentary

This film has been released in Australia, although it's harder to get a copy of in the UK....

Antarctic Sabbatical

The first of two pieces I saw in the newspapers / Twitter feed this morning.

This is the second sabbatical being offered by Airbnb. The previous one was to regenerate an Italian hilltop village, and had 280 000 applications for the 5 available places.
I think this may also get quite a few applications too.
The opportunity opened today, and runs until the 8th of October.

The iNews has the full details on the opportunity. It is to join a scientific expedition to explore microplastics on the continent.

See more details, and watch the film here.

This was of interest to me as the scientists will be visiting Union Glacier. This is the place we introduce people to using the Vimeo film 'Welcome to Union Glacier' and the work of ALE.

Noun Project's Iconathon

I've been using the Noun Project this term with students to produce infographics. Text and simple images are apparently useful to help students remember because of the visual cue that they provide.
The Noun Project promises 'icons for everything' and these can be downloaded for free under CC license.

We've been using them to produce what we call a 'Little Book of Cold' - to explain why Antarctica is so cold. Icons can be downloaded with a free account, or customised.

The Iconathon is an extension of this, where designers get together to develop icons around a theme. The DISASTERS set is a good one to use, for example.

Dylan Wiliam on Research

I've always been slightly sceptical of the way that educational research is used indiscriminately at times, or more likely in error. Sometimes, one aspect of the research is seized on, and is then used in a different way to the way it was originally intended, or out of context with the original purpose. Cherry picking happens a lot (including by me of course...)

One of the leading names in educational research, who is often quoted is Dylan Wiliam.
I've used his research findings myself, way back in 2010, when I was writing online courses for the Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) while working for the Geographical Association.

This TES piece by Dylan from the 30th of May outlines my thinking on the matter nicely.

End of the Pier show?

Coastal resorts are continuing to fight for survival in today's tourist landscape.

This Yorkshire Post piece looks at the issues they face...

Image: Saltburn, North Yorkshire - Alan Parkinson, shared under CC license

Garment Worker Diaries - more from Fashion Revolution

Garment Worker Diaries are shared by Fashion Revolution, and also featured in their 2nd Fanzine, which I have a copy of.

They provide essential background information on the stories of garment workers and their lives.