Careers in Geography - Dearne Valley

Changing Industry, Changing Employment

One focus for this unit, and for the way that geographical skills can be embedded into the curriculum, is the way that changing global geographies have resulted in some career paths being replaced, or removed altogether.

One example of this change is the decline of the traditional 'heavy' industries in the North of England. Many of the companies working in these areas make use of modern technologies and processes which would also make them suitable contexts for science work.

Mention could usefully be made of links with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programmes. Students could discuss the connections between subjects as they relate to the examples provided: there are many opportunities for cross-curricular work.

These activities are suitable for Key Stage 4 and will explore changes in an area called the Dearne Valley, which lies to the North of Rotherham and Sheffield in South Yorkshire.

This case study explores the impact of these industrial changes on the landscape, and on the communities that relied on the industry for decades.

The 'geography' of the area changed as the jobs declined: some areas underwent dramatic social decline and required government support to attract some of the newer industries.

Geography teachers could usefully encourage students to become landscape detectives, and to explore the impact of changes in employment in their own local area, or to track change in their home town with respect to changing employment sectors.

Teachers could emphasise the importance of learners upgrading skills, broadening their horizons and not limiting themselves to traditional or stereotypical routes or jobs so that they will be well placed in changing job markets of the future.

Activity: Local Job Changes

Start a 'totaliser' display on the classroom wall with a total of zero. Print and cut out large numerals. Encourage students to keep an eye on local media for stories of jobs being lost or created in the local area, and create an interactive display which shows the changing number of jobs over time, and the types of industry that are involved in each case. Students could look for clues as to the possible reasons that are given for industries leaving, or locating in their home town.

Going inside the new industries

Over time, the Dearne Valley has undergone change as new industries have been attracted by a number of initiatives. What began to replace the collieries and steel foundries in the landscape was a very different skyline to the winding wheels and blast furnaces that had been there before.

Anonymous 'grey boxes' began to spring up. The names of most of the companies who occupy them would mean little to the local population, compared to the generations who were employed in the previous heavy industry.

The activities which follow go inside a few of these boxes to talk to the people who work in them, and the reasons why these companies came to South Yorkshire.

Geography is the Business Section One

These activities focus on regeneration in Rotherham including Martek Marine, a company which manufactures safety and emissions monitoring systems for ships, and the Rotherham Investment & Development Office.

Download: 'Geography is the Business: Section One' Student Activities (PDF)
Download: Paul Luen Interview (MP3, 12Mb, 20:46m) This file may take some time to download. To save the MP3 to your computer, right click and select 'Save Target As'.

Geography is the Business Section Two

These activities look at the changing economy of the Dearne Valley area including Metalyis, a company which produces specialised metals and a call-centre locating task.

Download: 'Geography is the Business: Section Two' Student Activities (PDF)
Download: Harry Pepper Interview (MP3, 16Mb, 27:55m) This file may take some time to download. To save the MP3 to your computer, right click and select 'Save Target As'.
Download: Location Matrix (PDF)
Download: Blank Location Matrix

Statutory Guidance for Impartial Careers Education

This activity will contribute to the following learning outcomes:


1.1 are able to investigate opportunities for learning and work on their own
1.2 are able to interpret information and to identify partiality and bias
2.3 understand the skills and qualifications they need to pursue their ambitions
3.8 understand the concept of labour markets
3.9 are aware of opportunities within local, regional and national labour markets
4.1 have been positively challenged to consider opportunities that they may not otherwise have considered
4.4 have positive expectations of work
4.5 understand the benefits of remaining in learning (including further education, Apprenticeships, other jobs with training and Higher Education)
5.2 understand that stereotypical decision making can have financial implications
6.1 understand the relevance to their future lives of each part of the curriculum
6.3 understand the importance of KS4 and post 16 subject choices on long term work and career options

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