The Secondary Geography Quality Mark

Quality Mark VLE >>>

'This is self-run CPD par excellence, for evidence from training evaluations shows that the one-off day, run by 'no-matter-how-inspiring' a speaker, is generally found less effective as CPD than that where teachers themselves are the active participants, engaged in working on a relevant topic'.

Download: Introducing the Secondary Geography Quality Mark

Why your school should apply

Undertaking the Quality Mark engages all staff in the department in a process of reflection about how well the department is achieving its aims and where its priorities lie. The whole team takes part in an ongoing process of curriculum review, identifying priorities for departmental CPD, sharing good practice around a framework for encouraging creative and critical thinking about curriculum making and developing a dynamic, relevant journey for students through KS3-5.

'... It's an audit - a mirror - a learning curve - and, if you can commit to the obvious time of reflection it takes to scrutinise your own department critically with colleagues, then you will come out of it the other end (much) clearer about what the department's areas for development might be, and able to prioritise from the list ...'

How does a school go about gaining the award?

All the necessary documentation to get you started can be found below - full documentation is only available via the SGQM VLE once you have registered for the award. Your head of department must register for the appropriate cohort of the award scheme with the GA and pay the appropriate fee. Note that current Geographical Association membership is essential when applying for the SGQM. Once awarded, schools are also requested to maintain their GA membership for the three-year period that the SGQM is valid.

Annual deadlines

Register by: Submit evidence by: Moderation during: Notified of award by: Presented at GA Annual Conference:
31 December each year End of June each year July-August each year September each year April each year


  SGQM school costs
6th form and FE colleges £385
Small schools £385
Medium schools (750 - 1200 students) £495
Large schools (>1200 students) £595

Having done this, the first step is to complete the assessment checklist which is a quick self-evaluation to establish areas of strength and areas to develop. Then cross-reference the action plan which results from this checklist with your Departmental Improvement Plan. Highlighting specific targets which relate specifically to the Quality Mark is a useful way of doing this.

You then work together as a department to put together a portfolio of examples and evidence to show how the requirements are being met.

When an award has been achieved a certificate will be sent from the GA for display, along with a similar one for the subject leader to recognise their work. The school will also receive an electronic version of the SGQM logo for use on letter headings and websites.

The award is valid for three years and you will be contacted towards the end of this period with an invitation to re-submit.

Centre of Excellence Status

The Secondary Geography Quality Mark is verified on the basis of the written portfolio evidence. To achieve 'Centre of Excellence' status, which recognises the department's contribution to quality geography at the highest level, further evidence will be required. Download a list of Centre of Excellence pathways.

Download: Centre of Excellence guidance

Further information about Centre of Excellence status is available on the password protected SGQM VLE - contact to register.

We can arrange for a GA Consultant to visit your school to support you in your QM journey, please visit our consultancy pages for further information.

Useful documents

Before you apply…

A letter to your Headteacher

Sample framework and evidence


Doing the SGQM in Wales

SGQM awardees and news articles

You can view the full list of current awardees as well as news articles showcasing schools who have gained the SGQM award here.

How to register

Download: Registration form

If you wish to register your interest in the SGQM email Once you are ready to apply for the award complete the form below.

SGQM registration form

As we do not visit schools, please remember our judgemnets are based on the application that you make and the evidence that you provide. The evidence we receive should tell a clear story about the geography in your school and its impact on students.