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Show Posts - swhitch

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Topics - swhitch

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Job vacancies and job seekers / Head of Geography
« on: January 11, 2017, 01:32:44 PM »
Opportunity to lead an outstanding and successful Geography Department at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, Essex.

There may also be the opportunity to teach Geology.

Details via the TES Jobs website:

Closing date for applications 26th January 2017.

Good luck


General Discussion / Exam advice
« on: June 26, 2015, 05:52:09 PM »
Choropleth only has one L in it.  :o

A line graph and a scatter graph are totally different beasts  :-[

Don't even think about providing students with "model" or "perfect" answers as more than likely they are anything but when the students finally see the question. Students need to answer the question set by the board not one they repeated and repeated in class and then rote learnt.  :-X

General Discussion / Spamming travel companies
« on: June 19, 2015, 02:56:47 PM »
Anyone else fed up with being iinundated by e-mails and brochures from the educational travel companies? There seems to have been quite a glut of e-mails, particularly from those offering adventures in Africa and despite replying to say I don't want details, blocking and spam filtering I am now getting paper copies in the post. I have even e-mailed to say that, as a result of constant bombardment, even if they were the best providers in the world I would not go with them.

General Discussion / What happened when .......
« on: February 23, 2015, 10:30:18 PM »
the content for A level geography was developed by a committee of hand-picked academics ( including just ONE A level teacher, alongside RGS & GA) :

Here is the first sample from OCR to the new Geography A Level

Specification link: This task is from the specification, which considers ways in which supra-national institutions attempt to resolve threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Oh, how I am really looking forward to teaching this History and Government & Politics from 2016. :-X Don't say you weren't warned !!

General Discussion / Call for A level delay
« on: December 02, 2014, 05:09:06 PM »
Given the unexpected outbreak of common sense and joined up thinking over the start date of the new A Level Maths curriculum should the RGS and GA not be pushing for the same for Geography. It makes even less sense than the year gap for maths to have both Geography GCSE and A levels changing in September 2016.

General Discussion / What do you want to see in new A level?
« on: September 20, 2014, 07:31:56 PM »
Other than the proposed core elements and the beefed up maths what options do people want to see in the new A level specs?

General Discussion / Managing volcanic eruptions:
« on: September 11, 2014, 01:25:28 PM »
Useful summary from the BBC.

General Discussion / Happy holidays everyone
« on: July 18, 2014, 05:55:21 PM »
Have a relaxing and restful break everyone, when you finish if not done so already !

 ;D ;D

General Discussion / New AS / A Level Consultation
« on: July 16, 2014, 12:04:38 AM »
New Geography AS / A level consultation due to complete late September.

Please make you views known

The geography fieldwork assessment will take place over a period of time, and it can be more student-led than science practical assessments. It will draw on different aspects of the course and will not result in direct assessment of the fieldwork skills but will result in a written report, the marking of which can be moderated by exam boards. ;)

General Discussion / Locational Geography not a strong point?
« on: July 11, 2014, 10:48:16 AM »
Oh, how good it is to have the "need to know stuff" in the new National Curriculum !

General Discussion / KS3 textbooks
« on: May 22, 2014, 02:01:29 PM »
We, like many, are reviewing KS3 in light of the new NC, despite not having to do so, and wondered if anyone has any feedback on any of the new textbooks, particularly the Geog Dot series. How do they compare with the previous series, are the new regions covered captivating etc. etc. We have previously use Earthworks and although pretty sound what are left of them are now rather dated (and dog-eared !)


General Discussion / Preparing students for exams
« on: February 11, 2014, 08:30:20 PM »
Currently preparing students for the mocks - here is some of the advice I am giving the students and my colleagues:

To the students:

A) Make the mocks a meaningful experience for one and all - this really is chance to see just how you are doing and what you need to do ing the coming weeks. There are no prizes for getting low scores then saying "Well I didn't really revise" - how will that help you to achieve higher next time?

B) By following the advice above you will get meaningful feedback on the topics you have studied and attempted to answer. Give the staff something to work with.

C) Know DETAIL and be PRECISE. Take your answers beyond the basic to show the examiner that you have a sound and detailed grasp of the issues. Learn and be able to apply case studies and apply terminology (appropriately) throughout !

D) Don't waffle - how many times do examiners have a page or a page and a half describing the question or setting the scene where no marks are scored - get on with it ! See G below.

E) Answer the question set - if it says justify then justfy don't evaluate. If it says describe then do just that don't waste time explaining, and as in C use detail from the resources etc. to further your description. Check you understand the command words before the exams.

F) Ignore your teacher (and even the Secretary of State for Education) when they tell you to rote learn - it doesn't work - year after year students trot out some "perfect" answer provided by the teacher or developed in collaboration with other students only to be shocked at a mark that struggles to get out of the lowest mark band.

In the past whilst examining I have seen this far too many times - rote learnt material that answers a totally different question to the one set but students unable to shift their mindset to tackle it. As an example have seen whole centres when asked to justify methods  - students all evaluate - they think they have done well but they have focused 50% of their time on something that is not being examined; asked to describe presentation methods and they talk about stats analysis because that is what the whole group have had drilled into them by the teacher ............ be your own person, know your stuff, you will do fine !

G) Remember the examiner is likely to be working pretty close to minimum wage and so will not want to spend 20 minutes having to try to work out what your writing says - it is simply not worth their while. Historically I got through about 5 to 6 scripts an hour (A2) which brings in less than £10 per hour BEFORE tax, £6 after - and that is for a highly qualified Head of Department with 25 years experience teaching and 20 years examining (our cleaner gets paid better maybe I should stop examining and start hoovering !!!!)

H) Be careful to manage your time - nothing worse than running out of time with a third the paper still to go.

To the teacher:
A) Work closely with the mark schemes to mark the mock realistically - don't give them false expectations - they need to know it how it is and if that hurts then sorry but tough. They should be aware, if it is the case that not everything is fine, be honest with them - there is still time for them to do something about it. They will thank you for it if they achieve in the summer.

B) Pick them up on their SPAG, their attention to detail and their use of data - it will pay off in the final exam.

C) Provide them opportunities to tackle more papers following the mock to put things right and to understand the issues of timing etc.

D) Don't provide them with perfect answers - you don't know the questions in advance (or at least you shouldn't do) and therefore you are very likely to be doing your students a great disservice. Teach them how to answer questions not what to write.

Hope that helps.

General Discussion / Oxford University Geography Open Day
« on: January 31, 2014, 05:26:28 PM »
Geography Open Day
11am - 3pm, Friday 9 May 2014
The School of Geography and the Environment holds an annual Department Open Day with events and information provided for prospective undergraduate students.
Booking is required as space is limited. We’d be grateful if you could forward this invitation to your students and if any are interested in attending the event, they should complete the online booking form:

Handily placed the Friday before the first Geography AS paper  :o

General Discussion / YGOTY 2013
« on: November 29, 2013, 05:19:08 PM »
Congrats to all the winners and highly commendeds from the YGOTY 2013 awards and to everyone who entered !

General Discussion / GCSE Geography reform
« on: November 05, 2013, 08:17:15 PM »


We believe that the curriculum content for geography can be the same for all students and that all students can be assessed in the same way. We propose that the reformed GCSE in geography should not be tiered.

Forms of assessment

Our controlled assessment review found a good deal of agreement that carrying out fieldwork is essential for students of GCSE geography. There was less agreement about whether it is possible to assess fieldwork skills as part of GCSE geography assessment, although there was a view that some of the skills – data manipulation, interpretation and analysis, for example – can be assessed through written exams. There were many concerns about the nature of school fieldwork exercises which many schools complete in a single day. Even the most capable students are unlikely to have the time during one day of fieldwork to experiment with alternative approaches to data collection, which means that they are not able to reflect on, further analyse and evaluate their work.

There are also issues of fairness for all students. We found that if teachers designed poor fieldwork exercises then that could prevent students from performing well, or from accessing all of the marking criteria.

The curriculum content requires students to undertake fieldwork, but the related knowledge and skills can be assessed by written exam set and marked by the exam board. We therefore propose that all assessment for the reformed geography GCSE should be by written exams alone and that the total assessment time should be no less than 3.5 hours.


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