Action Plan for Geography

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Action Plan for Geography 2006-2011

The funded period of the Action Plan for Geography was 2006-11. It was a great success. Detail of which can be found in the Final Report and Evaluation.

Several strands of the APG will continue such as the Geography Quality Marks, which have been achieved by hundreds of schools around the country and beyond.

The outcomes of the various projects are available on the GA website or related sites Young People's Geographies and Making Geography Happen projects.

Finally, the overall legacy is that the GA is continuing, and expanding, its highly regarded CPD course programme. This will be very important as we gear up for what could be a radically revised national curriculum.

What is the Action Plan for Geography?

In March 2006 Lord Adonis, the Schools Minister, and Michael Palin announced the Action Plan for Geography (APG).

The APG began as a two-year programme of support and development for school geography led jointly and equally by the Geographical Association and the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers). Funding for a further 3 years was announced in April 2008. The APG's goal is:

'To provide everyone - opinion formers, policy makers, parents and pupils - with a clear vision of geography as a relevant, powerful 21st century subject; and to equip teachers with the professional skills and support they need so that pupils enjoy and succeed in geography.'

This recognises the need for well trained, up-to-date and enthusiastic teachers who understand and can use geography to help young people become confident in their learning, informed about the world around them, and responsible, productive, active citizens.

Building on Success

The main priority for the second phase of the Action Plan for Geography is to extend the reach of the activities designed to raise the quality of geographical teaching and learning – in the classroom and the field – and for this to be reflected in the achievements of young people. Here are some of the activities that are currently going on as part of the second phase of the APG.

The Young People's Geographies project

The Young People's Geographies project offers a research oriented, leading edge flavour to 'curriculum making'. It is about making school geography more exciting and relevant to students by involving them in curriculum making and by focusing on their own lived geographies. Young people have their own distinct geographies, often very different to those of adults, and the YPG team believes the learning process will be much richer for students if these geographies are taken into account.

At the heart of the project is the idea of conversation. These changes can't happen unless teachers and students talk to each other. A big part of the first phase of the project was about establishing those conversations, and the specially created website is helping to keep the conversations going throughout the next phase.

Young People's Geographies

Making Geography Happen

Making Geography Happen is using the work of teachers, children and young people to exemplify geography in action. The overall aims are:

  • To produce exemplar material of student tasks and outcomes at a range of ages
  • To develop a stronger understanding of how pupils learn in geography from KS1 to KS3. (It is intended that KS4 will be included from 2009)
  • To clarify what we value as thinking geographically or 'geo-capability'.
  • To support teachers in their curriculum development with example materials focussing on pupil outcomes through a dedicated website area
  • To challenge teacher expectations of what their pupils can achieve in terms of knowledge, understanding, skills and values throughout their geographical education.

With strong links to official guidance on assessment and national curriculum 'levels' of success, the Making Geography Happen website will seek to showcase excellent geography, through the deeds, work and voices of children and young people.

Geography Quality Marks

The Primary and Secondary Geography Quality Marks continue to roll out and have become a sought after badge to associate with high quality school geography, increasingly recognised by Ofsted and policy makers. There are a number of different ways to support teachers in sharing ideas. Both a Primary and Secondary VLE exist each with a wealth of exemplar material. A web-based resource is now available for use by secondary departments applying for the SGQM that allows for the on-line storage of evidence towards the SGQM.

Over the APG2 period we aim to more than double the number of award holding schools and, partly using technology solutions, seek ways to make the Quality Mark process financially self sustaining in the future.

Primary Geography Quality Mark
Secondary Geography Quality Mark

Networks and CPD

The CPD effort is directed at nurturing and supporting local and regional networks (both primary schools and secondary teachers). In some cases the networks centre on a Geography Quality Mark 'Centre of Excellence', a school department that clearly has leadership potential and capacity. In some cases, the networks are virtual using social networking technologies, or centre around a GA Branch. The goal is to identify a range of local solutions to put geography teachers in touch with each other and to form local alliances under national leadership as expressed through the Action Plan. HE departments are also being involved in various ways including participation in projects and supporting and organising conferences.

Our goal is to reach 1500 secondary school geography teachers who we have not yet 'met' – that is, teachers 'new to the action plan'. In addition, we aim to network with 1500 primary schools, again in addition to those with whom we already network. In the case of primary, we are creating a national network of primary geography 'champions', using existing opportunities (such as headteacher and local authority networks) to promote geography in the primary school curriculum. We see the government's current (2008-9) Primary Review as a key opportunity to reemphasise the importance of geography. The GA has been very active working with bodies such as CfSA, QCA and DCSF to feed into the process and inform and involve its members and others in the geography community.

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