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Recruitment, retention & results in A-level geography Steve Brace Head of Education and Outdoor Learning Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

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Presentation on theme: "Recruitment, retention & results in A-level geography Steve Brace Head of Education and Outdoor Learning Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Recruitment, retention & results in A-level geography Steve Brace Head of Education and Outdoor Learning Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

2 The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) We exist to advance geographical science in universities and schools, and with the public and policy makers. 15,000 Fellows and members

3 Who inspired me? What inspires young people? No one forgets a good geography teacher Mr (John) Benson –Lincoln Christ Hospital School, Lincoln No one forgets a good field trip –Whitby, Snowdonia

4 A couple of weeks ago

5 Geographical inspiration during registration (Y6!) Kerry?Vinson Massif - Antarctica Matthew? Port au Prince – Haiti Maylan? Aconcagua – Argentina Osjan?Mexico City – Mexico

6 The state of geography c200,000 entries at GCSE c30,000 entries at A2 c5,000 students start an undergraduate course But: <20% in poorer schools, c100 academies (50%) and c140 maintained schools dont offer GCSE or A Level geography Unequal access: why some people dont do geography Paul Weeden & David Lambert. Teaching Geography Summer 2010

7 What is geography? People PlacesEnvironments Geography

8 Geography in schools Geography – as a school subject – provides a way of helping young people in schools to learn about, and reflect on, aspects of their world. This engagement with the world means that geography is constantly changing as society changes. Teaching geography 11 – 18 David Lambert & John Morgan 2010

9 At A Level

10 What can A Level achieve? Deeper subject knowledge Higher level understanding and skills (inc technology) Independent learning (and curiosity about the world) Pathways into further study and employability

11 But … A chasm has developed between those who teach at school and those who teach in universities. Schools and universities: the great divide Andrew Goudie Geography 1993 University and non-university geography appear to inhabit different worlds Geography as the world discipline: connecting popular and academic geographical imaginations Alastair Bonnett 2002 Area

12 However: the benefits of linking schools and HE New research in the classroom can be invaluable. It can be really powerful for a teacher to be able to say, here is new research from the University of X and it shows this about that geographical issue or location. While your research process is fundamental, the real need is for information about what you found and why it is important, rather than how you did it. Communicating Geographical Research Beyond the Academy RGS-IBG 2010

13 How this helps Combining up-to-date knowledge, understanding & skills Relevance – not just topicality. Lecturers were concerned with the dominance of issues over processes in schools e.g. In school there is a fixation on issues with insufficient theory and process- response underpinning. This included the uncritical teaching of geographical models. Joined-up geography: connecting school-level and university level geographies. Jennifer Hills & Mark Jones Geography 2010

14 e.g. Christaller Model Christaller could use his theory in practice with the rise of Adolf Hitlers Third Reich in Germany and its conquered territories, including a reconfiguration of the geography of Germanys eastern conquests such as Czechoslovakia and Poland. Christaller was in charge of planning for occupied Poland. christaller.htmlhttp://world-geography.org/people/137-walter- christaller.html See also economic take off, Burgess etc

15 Keeping up-to-date – the value of CPD How many of us (or our colleagues) have? –Attended a lecture about new research –Read a journal article about new research in geography –Kept up to date with our university tutors (or former students) and asked them for information or invited them to talk to 6 th formers? Our research is the internet, geofiles, Geography Review etc … its not necessarily current. (1) (Emphasis on) CPD, linked to ongoing academic research, in order to:stimulate renewed interest in my main subject where I feel I am getting stale. (2) (1) & (2) Joined-up geography: connecting school-level and university level geographies. Jennifer Hills & Mark Jones Geography 2010

16 Ask the (academic) Expert?

17 Further study & careers through geography Further study at university But Sir theres no point doing geography as I dont want to be a geography teacher – (like you!) Online Ambassadors: George-Risk Management, Sarah- Pollution Analysis, Caroline-GIS Retail Planning. Introducing real geographical topics by real people

18 Some challenges Topicality - a changing world a changing geography Purpose – understanding or action? The case for geography: with pupils, parents and the public …

19 1. Topicality 1957 or 2007 Which is relevant? Image of Lynmouth floods removed for copyright reasons Image of Tewkesbury during the 2007 summer floods removed for copyright reasons

20 2. Geographys purpose? Is it to understand – is it to preach? The replacement of knowledge with morality as the central focus of the curriculum … global problems are not presented as issues to be interrogated for truth, knowledge and meaning, with a view to developing ideas about the potential courses of social and political action. Instead, the solution is to be found in the personal and presented as a given: consume less, have fewer children, take public transport, be less money-grabbing (&) support charities. Alex Standish The Corruption of the Curriculum 2009

21 3. The case for geography Geography illuminates the past, explains the present and prepares us for the future. What could be more important than that? Michael Palin, President RGS-IBG Michaels letter promoting GCSE and A Levels: I would encourage your son or daughter to choose a GCSE or A Level in geography. It meant a lot to me and it could mean a lot to them.

22 The wider public case The RGS-IBGs wider role is to encourage a spatially, environmentally and socially aware citizenship that understands, and cares about, the world; an informed awareness of the nature and diversity of peoples, places and environments, locally and globally; how and why they are changing and linked; what challenges they pose; and how our own lives affect the planet and its resources Futuring Geographers: The role of the subject organisations Rita Gardner & David Lambert Geography 2006

23 A wider perspective: what drives performance? Autonomy – taking control of your work Mastery – the desire to improve Purpose– the direction of travel The surprising truth about what motivates us: –http:// Doing something with our subject (in our own time)

24 Michael Barber Instruction to Deliver (2007)

25 Further information/support RGS-IBG Membership –School Membership, Young Geographer (14-24), Fellowship & Chartered Geographer (Teacher) –www.geographyinthenews.rgs.orgwww.geographyinthenews.rgs.org –www.rgs.org/schoolswww.rgs.org/schools –www.geographyteachingtoday.org.ukwww.geographyteachingtoday.org.uk Events e.g. lectures, master classes & study days, careers events


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