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Good Influences? Bob Digby Community Geographer Geographical Association.

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1 Good Influences? Bob Digby Community Geographer Geographical Association

2 Some guiding questions Who influenced you in deciding to teach? Who will shape your thinking in your new career? What kind of Geography do you value? What kind of Geography will be taught in future? How will decisions be made about what is and what is not worth teaching? Who will make these decisions?

3 My own influences - 1 My own Geography teacher, Courtney Rice. A History tutor at Keele, Frank Field – who introduced me to socialist thought. Nottingham PGCE course – introduced me to mixed-ability comprehensive education and the integrated curriculum. My first Head Teacher, Ben Howe; a liberal who believed that the foundation of good schools lay in good relationships. The Schools Council Project – a framework without prescribed content.

4 My own influences Geography – Mick Naish (Project Director) and the IoE Project Team Margaret Roberts, University of Sheffield – about teaching and learning My last school (University College School) – its liberal ethos and sense of community Colleagues – both in my own and in other subject areas – for mutual support

5 What they offered A framework of ideas – people who made me think, who inspired me, who helped me make sense A sense of confidence that I could try out my own ideas Personal space – the space to let me try things out in my own way (and make mistakes) Personal support, humour, enthusiasm A belief that at the foundation of healthy workplaces lies good relationships, between students and staff alike.

6 Where ideas came from Higher Education – (Bristol Project), Avery Hill, – all developed within universities and colleges Exam Boards were all university-based (London, JMB of the Northern Universities, Oxford, Cambridge Boards, etc) - so HEI geographers played a role in school Geography Authors of texts - usually HEI geographers Local Authority Advisers

7 Political landscapes change! National Curriculum and a political definition of subjects Centralisation and political influence. QCA guide both the curriculum and assessment – run by professionals, but guided by politicians League tables and the shift in priorities to results The explosion in the Examinations and Assessment industry Ownership of the Examination Boards The public face of Exam Boards – sharing the outcomes of assessment Privatisation of the education industry – private companies and consultants dominate course provision The decline of local authorities and advisers

8 So what influences teachers in schools now? Are their influences different from my own?

9 Questionnaire to schools What kinds of courses? Who provided those courses? How good were they? Whos getting the courses? How are these linked to experience? Who have been the greatest influences in their careers? What kind of influence has it been?

10 The sample: All in Cornwall 20 teachers in 8 schools and colleges All qualified Considerable experience A range of roles in schools

11 20 people had attended 51 courses in the last 2 years 3 of these people had attended 24 (nearly half) of these courses 10 people had attended 1 or 2 courses in the last 2 years The 4 most junior people had attended just 3 courses between them 1 institution accounted for 24 of the courses – nearly half of all training! 3 people had attended no courses in 2 years – all were FT, experienced




15 What teachers did Built up my confidence Inspirational field visits, excellent teaching Enthusiasm, clarity of teaching He loved the subject He made the subject very enjoyable

16 What colleagues did Active engagement strategies, group work & mysteries – cutting edge, relevant Geography with a clear focus Used a mixture of creative teaching styles Ideas, inspiration, humour Good relationships with students Positive approach and passion

17 What tutors and mentors did Amazing knowledge and passion Built my confidence Showed different approaches to Geography He loves Geography! He is Geography!

18 What do Ofsted have to say?

19 Ofsted (2008) Geography in schools: changing practice 1 For secondary teachers, the lack of support and advice in many local authorities constrains creative and professional debate about geography. For many geography departments in secondary schools, the only external subject-specific input occurs through examination board meetings.

20 Ofsted (2008) Geography in schools: changing practice 2 Successful departments usually have good networking systems to support the subject, perhaps through subject associations, the local authority or partnerships with geography departments in other local schools.

21 Ofsted (2008) Geography in schools: changing practice 3 Concerning the Pilot GCSE The teachers benefited from regular national project meetings as well as the support provided by the Geographical Association and, where available, local authority advisory staff and local clusters of schools. Teachers who were not supported in these ways found it difficult to develop their own resources.

22 Some final questions Teachers are clearly of fundamental importance in shaping young peoples thinking So whos shaping theirs? Where are the thinkers and framework providers? The exam boards are now hugely important as course providers, and politically; but the universities are fast disappearing as influences Whose Geography are the boards promoting in their specifications? What influences them? Market share? or challenging frameworks for thinking? The GCSE Pilot is the most progressive specification How can its model approaches (local groups, national project meetings) be replicated throughout the profession? A role for subject associations, perhaps?

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