geography southwest’s annual conference comes to UWE!

CPD For Me

How has a year passed by? It was time for geography southwest’s annual conference, once again hosted by the Department of Geography and Environmental Management at the University of the West of England (UWE) on the outskirts of Bristol (https://www.uwe.ac.uk/courses/find-a-course/courses-by-subject/geography-and-environmental-management). I had offered to support the organisers, Dr Harry West, Simon Ross and John Davidson, with welcoming delegates and registration, so it was a bright and early start for me. The event was a sell out about a month in advance. It was lovely to see some familiar faces, as well as a few new ones too.

At the start of the day, time was allocated for registeration, refreshments and perusing the publisher’s exhibition. Simon then ushered everyone into one of the large lecture theatres for a formal welcome and housekeeping. He then introduced Dr Rebecca Kitchen, Head of Professional Development at the Geographical Association (GA), to discuss ‘The GA’s curriculum framework: classroom applications‘. This session outlined the GA’s curriculum framework and considered how it might be best used to strengthen geographical knowledge in the classroom. It also emphasised the importance of applying geographical knowledge and conceptual progression throughout the curriculum. Whilst I was fairly familiar with this documentation due to attending workshop sessions at the GA’s Annual Conferences in 2023 and 2024, it was good to discover more about its application within the classroom and the increased evidence that has since been gathered. Many delegates referred back to Becky’s comments on several occasions throughout the day.

The second lecture was given by Mr Matt Wheeldon, Director of Infrastructure Development at Wessex Water, and entitled ‘Storm overflows: causes, impacts and solutions‘. ‘Sewage dumping’ makes great headlines. However, what is really going on? Matt discussed how storm overflows arise, what impact they have on environmental and public health and how different solutions have a variety of wider consequences. It was interesting to hear the ‘other side of the story’ and certainly challenged some of us to think about any misconceptions that we might have from simply accessing items in the media.

The final lecture before lunch was delivered by Dr Andy Tallon, an Associate Professor of Urban Regeneration at UWE, and looked at ‘Urban Regeneration in Bristol‘. Andy looked at Bristol as a case study, firstly providing an overview of its urban geography and then focusing on urban regeneration issues, approaches and innovative examples of practice within the city. Bristol is used as a case study by many schools and Andy also suggested organisations that teachers should contact to support them with fieldwork within the city.

Rumbling tummies meant it was time for lunch! Delegates were directed towards the various eateries open on campus, before allowing them time to do a spot of networking and visit the various stands in the publisher’s exhibition should they wish to.

The day resumed with a choice of two workshops. Unfortunately, I missed the first workshop as I was catching up with Simon, John and Harry and other presenters. However, I did manage to make the second workshop led by Dr Liam Saddington, Teaching Associate in Human Geography, University of Cambridge, and entitled ‘Climate Justice and Young People: Bringing Year 9 Fieldwork into the 21st Century’. Liam focused on newly created educational materials for supporting Year 9 geography. Through a collaboration with local schools, the University of Cambridge has been developing a new scheme of work to support the teaching of human geography of climate change exploring topics around climate justice. It also includes material for running local fieldwork on climate justice. The overriding aim is to help pupils to develop a wider understanding of climate change and fieldwork skills before GCSE. Liam is leading a virtual interactive session with KS3 students on behalf of GlosGeog, Gloucestershire’s local Geographical Association (GA) branch, on Thursday 27th June 2024, so I am looking forward to delving into a lesson from this toolkit then.

A brief tea break followed before we all reconvened for The RGS Lecture, which was given by Dr Katie Hall of ESRI and concentrated on ‘Developing geospatial skills through the National Education Nature Park‘. The National Education Nature Park empowers children and young people to explore, map and improve their education settings for both people and wildlife. Engaging with the Nature Park helps develop their connection to nature alongside vital digital skills for their futures. Here, Katie explored how GIS can be used to collect and analyse habitat and biodiversity data and where you can find the resources, support and guidance needed to put nature at the heart of education. Definitely one to explore further and a great opportunity for a future transition project between primary and secondary students in conjunction with GlosGeog, perhaps?

A jam-packed, hugely enlightening and worthwhile day. Well done to all those behind the scenes for organising such a superb event and many thanks to the various presenters for inspiring and enthusing us all. I have so many takeaways to now ponder and, hopefully, integrate into my consultancy activities throughout the next academic year.

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