Geographical Association (GA) ‘In the Know’ webinar series


Our final ‘In the Know’ webinar took the theme ofGrid references and map symbols’, one that links closely to geographical skills and fieldwork.

Word seems to have spread about our weekly webinars as our audience continues to grow, both in real time and for listening/viewing when time allows, which is great to witness.

Maps are works of art.  There are many types of maps, but they all communicate information, spatially and pictorially, about a particular area, from a theme park to a country to the world.  Understanding maps is an important geographical and life skill, which can be improved with good knowledge of directions and compass points, distance and scale, features, symbols and grid references.

Again, I endeavoured to integrate a number of interactive activities and teaching ideas into the webinar as previous feedback suggested these were features that participants had particularly enjoyed and appreciated.  It also helps teachers feel they are part of a supportive community, something that must be reinforced during these challenging and dynamic times with limited face-to-face contact.

Judging by the reflections in the chat feed towards the end of the session, I think participants found the webinar to be extremely useful; a quick, easy and cost-effective means of boosting their subject knowledge.  Some of their concluding comments can be viewed below:

Sum up your learning from today’s session in three bullet points (can be simply words/phrases).

‘How to use six-figure grid references; understanding more about map projections; different ways of introducing scale into teaching.’

‘Reinforced six-figure grid references; importance of showing children different styles and scales of maps; importance of globes in the classroom.’

‘Informative; consolidating; enjoyable.’

‘Good to refresh geographical knowledge; learnt new mapping techniques; useful, practical activities.’

‘Good recap of the scale of maps, projections of the world and grid references.’

‘Different projections of maps; six-figure grid references; using local OS maps to support learning.’

‘Understand grid references!’

‘Great subject knowledge; practical ideas; map projections.’

‘Six-figure grid references; consider map choice carefully; globe importance.’

‘Good recap of key learning; practical ideas for the classroom; ideas for developing the curriculum.’

‘Informative; practical ideas.’

‘Grid references; key vocabulary; discussion of world maps.’ 

‘Informative; practical; shows progression across key stages.’

‘I have learnt how to read six-figure grid references, maps of the world and the distortion aspect, activities to do with the pupils regarding these topics.’

‘Interesting; insightful; helpful.’

‘Informative; recapping knowledge.’

‘Engaging; interactive; interesting.’

List any ideas that you are going to ’give a go’.

‘Printing off images of the local area and using them for fieldwork after lockdown.’

‘Use Digimap for Schools to produce local area maps for study in the classroom; Dobble map symbols; exploring local area maps.’

‘Locating different places with given grid references.’

‘I would like to trial the orange peel activity within a staff meeting and see what they think (post Covid-19, of course).’

‘Map projections; map reading skills; using rulers and string to measure distance would be fun too.’

‘OS symbol knowledge and upskilling staff through local OS maps.’

‘Symbol Dobble; the teaching of four- and six-figure grid references.’

‘Using Digimap for Schools; different map projections – can children spot the differences.’

‘Spotting the map symbol that is in both (Dobble); children come up with own phrase for compass points.’

‘OS symbols card game; four- and six-figure grid reference map activity.’

‘Six-figure grid reference activity and the OS map symbols Dobble.’

‘Comparing world maps; grid references.’

‘Digimap for Schools; orange peel; acronyms; four- and six-figure grid reference activities; Dobble.’

‘Making their own mnemonic; using the local area for reading around the grid reference.’

‘The grid reference activity with KS1 and KS2.’

‘Four-figure grid references.’

‘Showing different maps of the world and discussing them.’

Identify any changes that you will make.

‘Review where six-figure grid references have been put in the subject overview; share activities with staff.’

‘More map reading in other lessons when the opportunity arises.’

‘Introduce more vocabulary, e.g. eastings; northings.’

‘Include Digimap for Schools definitely and map reading focus.’

‘Ensure that there is good progression across the LKS2 and UKS2 with regard to reading maps.’

‘More map work in EYFS.’

‘Look at long-term plan for use of compass points and grid references; check when being introduced.’

‘Resubscribe to Digimap for Schools and use it more.’

‘I am looking forward to using the variety of activities and have a more practical/active approach to teaching.’

‘Look where we teach six-figure grid references in school (may be too low down in school); using Digimap for Schools – just subscribed as a school.’

‘Give a map of the local school area.’

‘Introduce children to the different projections; specify six-figure grid references in UKS2; more OS map work.’

‘Use the information from this webinar to help out Year 6 planning and learning when approaching six-figure grid references.’

‘Introduce map work to our history topics; ensure every class has a globe (financial implications).’

‘I will make these sessions available to all staff in the hope they use them to support their own subject knowledge as and when they need to or as a refresher.  I will make examples of maps available around the school with questions encouraging a critical eye.’

‘Using the mnemonic to teach map reading skills.’

‘Use more local maps in the classroom.’


‘Really useful summary of the skills needed in reading maps.’

‘More subject knowledge to share with staff/children; better at six-figure grid references.’

‘Activities – practicals to understand, including the ‘In the Know’ information.’

‘Good bite-size information on the topic that could be translated in the classroom easily.’

‘Lots of good ideas.’

‘Grid references; comparing world maps.’

‘Useful information; great activity suggestions.  Loved the map projections – this was new to me.  Love the orange peel idea.’

‘Increase general knowledge and have more engaging activities to take away.’

‘Revisiting six-figure grid references; looking at different map projections.’

‘Clarity in teaching six-figure grid references.’

‘Informative session that helped consolidate knowledge on six-figure grid references.’

‘OS map ideas.’

‘Enjoyable activities.’

‘The clear explanation of mapping and grid references.’

‘Lots of activities to try.’



‘Further interactive resources to use in the classroom?’

‘More practical fieldwork suggestions using the maps/grid references.’

‘Could include an activity for six-figure grid reference, just like the four-figure reference.’

‘Thank you.’

‘None – it was great!  Thank you.’

‘Nothing of note.’

‘Amazing session, no EBI.’

‘Linking aerial photos with OS maps; walk through of Digimap for Schools.’

‘Spot on today – thank you!’

PDF downloads are also available to purchase via the GA’s shop, either as ten individual titles or as a full set (  These provide straightforward, accurate and trustworthy background knowledge, explanation, diagrams and glossary on topics in the geography National Curriculum so that teachers can develop their geography teaching with confidence.

I have really enjoyed delivering this set of webinars for the GA.   The feedback from participants has been really positive, which makes the whole experience all the more rewarding.  Many thanks for being such a willing and enthusiastic audience too!

‘Thanks, Emma, the whole course has been really valuable and enjoyable too.’

‘Thank you, these have been very informative.’

‘Thank you for all the fab subject knowledge over the last few weeks.’

‘Thank you, all 6 were great.’

‘Thank you, Emma, for a very informative series of webinars.’

‘Thank you for some very informative few weeks!’

‘Thank you very much, really enjoyed the course.’

‘Thanks ever so much for a really informative and enjoyable course.  I’ll miss geography Thursdays!’

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