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Physical Geography Special Interest Group

physical geography workshop


Primary Chair: Niki Whitburn
Secondary Chair: Duncan Hawley

Our purpose

The role of the PGSIG is to enhance and support the teaching and learning of physical geography in primary and secondary schools.

 We aim to do this by:

  • Promoting the importance of physical geography in the school curriculum; particularly its relevance to society (practical application) and its value for intellectual development (curiosity and explanation) and spiritual development (awe and wonder).
  • Promoting effective teaching strategies and pedagogies for teaching physical geography topics in the curriculum, particularly approaches that inspire students' interest, make topics accessible and encourage active teaching and learning.
  • Promoting up-to-date understanding of physical geography knowledge and concepts relevant to teachers.
  • Promoting critical thinking through physical geograph.
  • Liaising with cognate groups and organisations and, where appropriate, providing representation to external bodies concerned with educational and curriculum development.

What we do

The PGSIG meets three times a year (usually at GA HQ in Sheffield) to discuss and review progress with projects and do much of the 'work' between meetings.

Our latest project is a review of physical geography in AS textbooks, which aims to provide teachers with information on how comprehensive and helpful the sections on physical geography are for teachers and students, considering criteria such as accuracy, pedagogic style, examples used and possibilities for wider application. We hope to publish results by the end of the summer 2010.

We also meet at the GA Annual Conference and provide cross-phase 'hands-on' workshops that provide interesting ways to teach topics that can seem remote or tricky (previous highlights include the successful 'Sweet Physical Geography' - modelling physical geography using food). Members also run workshops for primary teachers and teacher-to-teacher sessions for secondary teachers.

At the 2010 Annual Conference in Derby we introduced delegates to a range of physical geography activity ideas covering such topics as fluvial processes, glacial landforms and longshore drift.

Download: Making the world come to life in the classroom - activity ideas (PDF, 836k)
Download: Fifteen websites for physical geography (PDF, 4.8M)

View video on Vimeo


Plans for the future include extending the text book audit to other key stages, promoting articles for Teaching Geography and Primary Geographer, plus developing joint projects with environmental organisations and other working groups to create stimulating new resources for the classroom.

Who we are

We are teachers who are passionate about physical geography, usually because it has given us and our students so much pleasure in experiencing and understanding the world around us (physical geographers are never at a loss wherever they are!). The group comprises teachers, teacher educators and higher education lecturers.  

We are always keen to hear suggestions for useful projects from teachers (primary or secondary), so please do send ideas of what you think might be useful for our consideration - and if you are interested in joining or contributing the PGSIG in other ways then please get in touch.


(Updated 22.07.10)

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