Volunteering for the GA

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Introduction

Volunteers are a key part of the Geographical Association and carry out a variety of tasks on behalf of the organisation. Voluntary roles include:

Committee / Special Interest Group / Communication Board member
Trustee
Elected Officer
Journal / Book / Magazine author
Worldwise volunteer
Other small-scale tasks and projects

Download a copy of our Volunteer Policy to find out more about volunteering with us. If you have any questions, or if you'd like to find out more, please contact Richard Gill.

On this page you can read about the activities some of our existing volunteers are involved in. Current opportunities and the GA's various committees and special interest groups are listed in the Get Involved area.

 

Mark Higginbottom

Co-Chair of Worldwise& GA President 2014 - 2015

Mark is a School and Settings Improvement Officer in the North West of England

I have been on the Worldwise group since it formed in 2005, meeting three times a year in Sheffield or Birmingham. Since 2001 I have produced the Geography Action Week materials (now Worldwise Week) and continue to co-ordinate the writing of the Worldwise week materials each year.

I work with the Worldwise team to plan and deliver the annual Challenge Weekend we hold as a national competition for Worldwise participants each year. I enjoy being involved in this key activity that brings teachers, students and GA volunteers together to engage in 21st Century geography thinking and new technologies to support geographical understanding in the outside world. It is a key aspect of Worldwise and the Association’s work that directly engages young people with high quality, innovative approaches to geographical learning.

I currently write the International Geography competition to select Team UK, and co-lead the team of four post-16 students who win the Worldwise online competition to participate in the iGEO International Geography Olympiad. Brisbane, Tunis, Taipei and Cologne, Kyoto and Krakow have been recent venues.

From 2005-2011 I was a GA Trustee and a member of the Governing Body. Trustees share the legal responsibility for ensuring that the GA is properly run in accordance with the requirements of charity law, and have an overarching duty to act as 'guardians' of the Association. In practical terms, being a Trustee involves attending termly Governing Body meetings, being open to joining sub-groups of the Governing Body and generally acting as an ambassador for the GA.

In March 2012 I was thrilled to be elected as President in 2014-2015, the ultimate volunteer post within our organisation.

 

Catherine Owen

International Working Group & GA Author

Catherine is a Head of Geography in Somerset

As a keen GA member I always kept an eye out for ways to get involved in a voluntary capacity. My opportunity came following a conversation with two volunteers at a GA Annual Conference and I was quickly recruited on to the International Working Group (IWG).

I was a little daunted at my first IWG meeting as the existing members seemed so knowledgeable and I wasn't sure what I'd be able to contribute. But I was made very welcome and the group felt that my interest in writing could prove useful.

I really got to know the group at the first Annual Conference I attended with them in Derby during 2007. We had a stand to run and were involved in a lecture, a workshop, a teacher-to-teacher session and hosting the international rendezvous. The IWG aims to support teachers from overseas when they visit the Conference and this year we were lucky enough to be involved in hosting Elizabeth from Kenya and Tsering, a Tibetan in exile.

Since then I have helped to host McDonald from Malawi and Emmanuel from Tanzania during the Manchester 2009 Conference and was lucky enough to host Zhao Xin from Bejing in my own home. My children were thrilled to meet Zhao Xin and she also accompanied me to school for a day.

With the support of my new friends on the International Working Group I have written an article for Teaching Geography and contributed to the A Different View online resources. I have also written a book for the GCSE Toolkit series, Going Global.

Joining a working group has made a huge difference to me, both professionally and personally. I really recommend the experience.

 

Bob Lang

ICT Working Group Chair & GA Consultant

Bob is a geography teacher in Birmingham

I have been a member of the Geographical As­sociation since my career began and am currently the Chair of the GA's ICT Working Group and a GA Consultant.

I have been a GA regional subject advisor and an SSAT Humanities Lead Practioner. I have also participated in and led a variety of inset and CPD opportunities focussing on GIS and Gapminder and am currently working with the Gapminder Foundation to develop teaching ideas.

I regularly participate in local meetings for geography teachers including setting up an RGS-IBG teachers' network in Birmingham.

I have also been involved in the school achiev­ing the GA's Secondary Geography Quality Mark Centre of Excellence Award.

I am a Fellow of the RGS-IBG (FRGS) and a Chartered Geographer (C.Geog).

 

Helena Dixson

GA Annual Conference Steward

Helena is an A-level student in the West Midlands

In 2009 I was given the opportunity to work as a steward at the GA Annual Conference in Manchester. With a keen interest in the events industry and a passionate geography teacher as a father I jumped at the chance!

I was apprehensive in the run up to the event as I hadn't worked on something of that scale before and wasn't sure what to expect. The 7:00am start was a shock to the system but there was no hanging about and we quickly set to work organising the day's sessions and planning who was going to staff the inevitably busy cloakroom. Co-ordinating 700 delegates at lunch time was quite a task but with positive communication and a friendly smile everything went according to plan!

The first day was challenging as unlike the other stewards I had no idea where most of the classrooms were but everyone was so friendly and understanding it made me feel totally at ease with the job.

The second day was just as busy, but knowing where the rooms were made everything easier. I came away from Manchester delighted by the weekend I spent there, so much so that in April 2010, I returned for a second year, this time to Derby University.

Derby 2010 was just as hectic but left a little more free time than Manchester, so I was able to look around the exhibition. Whilst I learnt a lot about event planning and executing I was also able to gain insight into another world that gives others such enjoyment.

Volunteering to help at events such as the GA Conference is definitely something I wish to continue doing as it gives a sense of fulfilment seeing others enjoying something they love when you have been a part of making it happen.

 

Stephen Scoffham

GA Publications Officer

Stephen is a university tutor in Canterbury

I have served as Publications Officer for the GA for nearly seven years and the role is one which has naturally evolved around my skills and abilities. Although I have taken a lead role, I have been ably supported throughout my tenure by a secondary colleague which means that my primary school experience has been balanced by an informed perspective from different age phases.

You can see the extent of the GA's publications programme by browsing the online shop.

My work for the GA has been wide-ranging and these examples are by no means comprehensive!

Attending meetings - I participate in termly meetings to discuss the GA's publishing programme and frequently meet with the GA Publications Manager, authors and publishers.
Publications Strategy - I take a lead role writing and revising the GA's Publications Stategy which is renewed every three years.
Finding new authors - Through networking and other contacts, I help to identify possible new authors and new members for the Publications Board.
Monitoring school/curriculum change - In order to provide sound advice to the GA, I have to keep abreast of changes in schools and in the curriculum.
Writing GA materials - I have occasionally authored and/or edited material for the GA, notably the Primary Geography Handbook.

 

Lucy Mitchell

Teaching Geography Author

Lucy is an NQT geography teacher in London

I was introduced to the GA during my PGCE and found reading some of the articles in both Geography and Teaching Geography really useful and inspiring. They gave me ideas for things to try in the classroom - something which was particularly useful as a new teacher.

It was my PGCE tutor who first suggested that one of the pieces of research I had done during the course would make an interesting article for Teaching Geography. I love writing articles, and have written several in the past for various alumni magazines and student papers, so I jumped at the opportunity to write another one. It was a nice way to make the most of the hard work I'd put into doing the research, as well as sharing ideas with colleagues far and wide.

Seeing my article in print in the Spring 2010 issue was an amazing feeling, and one which was only topped by receiving several emails from other GA members congratulating me on my work. More importantly, they asked for help using Google Earth and additional resources so they could try out the sequence of lessons with their students. My work was being used across the country - fantastic!

I believe the more teachers can share, the better, and writing an article for Teaching Geography is a great way to do this. Unlike simply passing your ideas on to colleagues at your weekly staff meeting, this way you also get your name in print in a prestigious magazine. It was enough to impress my department and head teacher at any rate!

 

Brian Ellis

GA Trustee (and Honorary Treasurer 2007-11)

Brian is retired. His last academic post was Senior Lecturer in Geographical Education at the University of Warwick.

I am currently the GA's Honorary Treasurer and as such am one of the fourteen Trustees/Directors with overall responsibility for stewardship of the Geographical Association.

I have actually been a GA member since my student days in the late 1950s and worked my way through the ranks as a volunteer via the (now defunct) Coventry Branch - first as a member, then Secretary and Treasurer. I was also a founder member of the GA's Teacher Education Special Interest Group and then Chair, which gave me a place on the Governing Body.

The term of office of the Honorary Treasurer is usually three years with the eligibility for one further term of three years. This commitment involved me attending Governing Body meetings three times a year at which I was expected to take the lead on all financial matters. I also gave a brief report of the previous year's accounts at the GA's Annual Meeting.

As Honorary Treasurer I was also an ex officio member of the Presidents Group (a sub group of the Governing Body comprising the President, Past President, and Junior Vice President), which typically meets with the GA’s Chief Executive three or four times a year.

My term of office as Honorary Treasurer was a particularly exciting (and not to mention busy) one for the GA as we converted from an unincorporated association to a company limited by guarantee and also purchased our own premises. As Honorary Treasurer I was heavily involved in both of these transactions acting as the main link between the GA's Senior Management team and the Governing Body.

Comment on this page

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4 Comments

Guest

Megan Hill Guest

Is there any demand for Google Earth scavenger hunts? I went online looking for some for my granddaughter and I could only find a few and most of those were American. I, therefore, devised a couple of my own and wondered if they would be of use to others!

megan.hill@virgin.net

Guest

Gemma Guest

Would you be able to tell me if there are any voluteering oppertunities currently available?

John Lyon

John Lyon GA Staff

Hi Gemma
Unfortunately I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you as the GA doesn’t presently have the capacity to take more than one volunteer work experience post and we currently organise this through a scheme run by the Geography Department at Sheffield University.

I do hope you find a suitable placement. I’m always pleased to hear from people who are interested in volunteering for something with a geographical angle to it. I would suggest that if you do want to keep geographical with your voluntary placement you might look for experience related to local volunteer schemes, such as those involved in say, managing local resources like woodlands or trails. Being involved in something local and based on conservation always looks good on your CV, but of course it’s also very valuable work and gives you lots to talk about at interviews. I'm sorry to not be more helpful about being able to give you a placement here with us in Sheffield. Best wishes for the future

Guest

Aaron O'Hare Guest

Hello. I am in my final year of Geography in the University of Glasgow. I have just finished leading my second student run expedition, this time to the Manu National Park, Peru. I was wondering if there would be any volunteering opportunities in which I could go into schools, and explain to students the work that we undertook and the different aspects to setting up a project and undertaking it in the field?

regards

Aaron

Online shop

Secondary Geography Handbook (book only)

Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Post-16

Secondary Geography Handbook (book only)

£54.99 £39.99*
GA Full and Concessionary Members

KS3 Geography Teachers' Toolkit: A Thorny Issue<br />Should I buy a Valentine’s rose?

Key Stage 3

KS3 Geography Teachers' Toolkit: A Thorny Issue
Should ..

£18.99 £13.99*
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Primary Geography Handbook

Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2

Primary Geography Handbook

£44.99 £34.99*
GA Full and Concessionary Members

Inflatable Globe

All

Inflatable Globe

£6.99 £5.99*
GA Full and Concessionary Members

Geography gives you options...

Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4

Geography gives you options...

£12.99 £8.99*
GA Full and Concessionary Members

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  • Visit the Discover the World website for geography resources
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