GlosGeog’s Secondary Geography Teach Meet is a success!

GlosGeog

Following GlosGeog’s successful virtual Primary Teach Meet in mid-April, it was decided to run a similar event for local secondary school teachers, ECTs and trainees. The Balcarras Trust, where one of the county’s Teaching School Hubs is also based (https://www.balcarras.gloucs.sch.uk/), kindly offered to host GlosGeog’s Secondary Teach Meet, which was attended by myself and Peter Vujakovic, GlosGeog Committee members, alongside teachers from 12 local secondary schools.

Refreshments were served on arrival with time for an informal chat too. Elizabeth Cullis, Assistant Headteacher and Director at the Balcarras Teaching School Hub, and myself formally welcomed everyone and introduced key players. We then moved swiftly on to the afternoon’s proceedings, which involved several brilliant speakers contributing either online or in situ and covering a wide range of topics under the umbrella of ‘Geography for everyone‘, the Geographical Association (GA) Annual Conference 2024 theme. These included:

Denise Freeman, Lead Practictioner – ECT Lead at Oaks Park High School in Redbridge and current GA President (2023-2024), elaborating on her chosen conference theme, ‘Geography for everyone‘, via a recorded video message.

Sarah Rath, Head of Geography at Dean Close School in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, introducing ‘Games for everyone‘, and what a selection she had too! Whilst the audience was familar with a few of these, it was great to see the contexts that they had been successfully employed in. I am looking forward to trialling a couple of these during future single school and virtual multi-schools events. Some of these had been used to make revision meaningful; certainly one to introduce to GCSE and A level students.

Amy Searle, Head of Geography, Balcarras School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, exploring ‘Embedding fieldwork and the route to enquiry‘. She referred to the key findings and recommendations in Ofsted’s latest geography subject report, ‘Getting our bearings‘, and the improvements that they had tried to implement to their fieldwork offering as a result of this. Their enquiry-led approach to fieldwork was impressive, as were their concentric circles/wedges concept planning and learning journey documents. Several schools wished to replicate such practice within their establishments over the next academic year. I also loved the idea of recycling old maps as backing paper for geography-themed corridor displays.

Bob Digby, former GA President, freelance geographer, author and CPD deliverer, articulating key messages relating to ‘Fieldwork for all‘. He mentioned the Geographical Association (GA)’s National Festival of Fieldwork that is running throughout the month of June (particularly from 3rd to 15th) and shared plenty of ideas for purposeful fieldwork within the local area. Bob also linked to sessions and resources from the Geographical Association (GA)’s recent Annual Conference. Remember what Bob said about NEAs and traffic counts too!

David Preece, Head of Geography (Teacher Development) at Teach First, London, leading a slightly longer session entitled ‘Good COP; Bad COP‘. David stressed the importance of using live data sets with students, especially when related to weather and climate. Many records have been broken already this year and statistics and figures in textbooks are out-dated. He recommended several websites and resources, such as Earth Nullschool (https://earth.nullschool.net/) and the Royal Meteorological Society (https://www.rmets.org/). We also had a play with En-ROADS together (https://en-roads.climateinteractive.org/scenario.html?v=24.6.0). David demonstrated how this browser-based global climate simulator could be utilised with students within the classroom; a means of determining realistic solutions and outcomes, allaying climate anxiety and promoting agency and hope instead.

We paused briefly to facilitate further sharing of best practice and networking over refreshments.

Catherine Owen, Head of Geography, The King Alfred School Academy, Highbridge, Somerset and forthcoming GA President (2025-2026), discussing ‘Developing cultural capital through geography‘. Catherine emphasised that there are many aspects to cultural capital and it can mean different things to people. Whilst we might live in a multi-cultural society, pupils’ cultural capital can be vastly different. She discussed how geography can be effective at reducing barriers since we focus on different people and places within the subject. She showcased how art, poetry, music, television, film and local culture can all be easily integrated into teaching and learning, directing delegates to many valuable websites and resources in the process.

Alistair Hamill, Head of Geography, SLT (T&L), Shared Education Leader (Lurgan College, Co Armagh) and Craigavon Area Learning Community T&L Lead, following with ‘Using GIS to teach for agency in the face of the climate crisis‘. I have heard Alistair speak on numerous occasions, but always about different things. He never ceases to amaze and enthrall me! Today was all about a climate change tree survey operating across their Area Learning Community (ALC) in Northern Ireland, which involves eight schools and hundreds of youngsters.

Alice Mcaughern, Teacher of Geography at Felsted School in Essex, talking about ‘Sheet Cheats for our EAL learners‘. Some of those present today had a proportion of EAL learners within their classrooms, so could appreciate how useful this tool may be.

Finally, Scott Pughsley, Associate Assistant Principal at King’s Leadership Academy in Liverpool, speaking about ‘Supporting students in the classroom‘. He shared some of the difficulties that youngsters may face. Scott covered effective questioning, whether verbally in class or relating to written tasks, as well as scaffolding in various forms, e.g. structure strips; success criteria tick lists; modelling. He threw questions at the audience to encourage reflection and discussion. Scott explained that scaffolding should gradually be taken away, but could be reintroduced when encountering a complex concept or more challenging exam questions.

There was an opportunity to ask questions/raise comments after each had presented too. Most teachers needed to go away and digest their notes, in addition to exploring some of suggested websites and resources further.

All in all, a well-organised and worthwhile way to spend a Wednesday afternoon; plenty of inspiration and food for thought to take back to colleagues within their schools.

Some of participants ‘concluding comments‘ can be viewed below:

Relevant; inspirational; encouraging; supportive; collaborative.

Superb content to inspire current offer.

The presentations yesterday were absolutely superb – I came away full of ideas and inspiration. Thanks again for all your work in making it happen and to Jo for facilitating on the day.

Please can I reiterate my thanks. It was a brilliant session. 12 schools represented – approximately a quarter of the secondary schools in Gloucestershire. That’s a pretty good turn out.  

Thank you for yesterday.

Thanks for having me! 

Many thanks to Elizabeth Cullis, Jo Newman and Amy Searle at The Balcarras Trust for their warm welcome and hospitality, Peter Vujakovic, my side-kick at GlosGeog for his ongoing support, and all the presenters for giving up their precious time to engage and enthuse us all this afternoon. Hopefully, this can become a regular event on GlosGeog’s calendar.

Enjoy the remainder of Term 6 and do let me know of any items from today that you ‘give a go’!

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