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Messages - swhitch

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General Discussion / Re: New specs
« on: November 25, 2015, 04:35:57 PM »
The GCSE is supposed to be a two year course not a three year course.

The new spec starts in 2016 so those starting in September gamble and take their chances. No point complaining about the system if you are not following the rules. Now, if the new specs are not out in time for teachers to prepare for the 2016 start then you would be right to complain, but not now. Sorry. ;)

General Discussion / Re: Geography Awareness Week
« on: November 16, 2015, 06:52:24 AM »
Thanks for making us aware.

Many of us will have missed the run up to this. Has there been one?. In the future could those who are aware of the awareness week well in advance please let us know well in advance so that we can be prepared. Too late to do anything across the school this week.

General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: November 10, 2015, 12:32:10 PM »
Super stuff, thanks Steve.

Water and Carbon cycle looks particularly useful.

General Discussion / Re: Best of British geographers
« on: November 03, 2015, 03:48:21 PM »
Michael Palin - former president of the RGS

Nick Crane - Coast & RGS

Prince William

We have produced a sheet with a brief outline of the course from the draft spec and how will we promote it ........ "enthusiastically" of course. we are meeting tomorrow to discuss our approach in more specific terms but linking it to current issues may certainly be the way forward.

General Discussion / Re: Geographical news
« on: October 23, 2015, 12:08:05 PM »
Great stuff !!! That is both really interesting and very useful.


General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: October 20, 2015, 11:01:00 PM »
Fair point but really I was trying to highlight the assumption of this statement, from lecturers at university who put the specs together, that students would go on to study geography at university. The specification, or syllabus, has been put together without any consideration that this is a subject for all abilities and not exclusively a nursery for University.

Place is fascinating, and as you point out, probably more relevant to many than river processes.

On your other point access to Journals is not possible for most departments or individual teachers and so to list them, and hugely expensive books really does not help in these times of budget cuts.

Yes, saw this the other day and very good news, long may it continue. Would be interesting to see how the new A level impacts upon uptake but will take a few years before any trends can be identified.

General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: October 14, 2015, 10:41:38 PM »
Have just looked through some of the resources developed for RGS by some of those on ALCAB. Some observations:

a) One has 4 recommended texts that are written by those who defined the specification, the other I looked through has 2.
b) There are papers from Journals that teachers in schools have no access to, unlike lecturers school teachers do not have open access to research journals. Maybe the universities could provide that access for schools if they are expecting us to access such resources, or maybe the RGS or the GA?
c) One seems to contain a large number of resources from the last century, isn't the focus of the new specification supposed to be the 21st century?
d) The cost of the first book I checked out was £40, I will look at the others but once again it just shows how out of touch with the school situation those developing the subject content are.

An interesting quote from one of the papers: "the concept of place significantly progresses upon GCSE understandings of this term, while it anticipates those in higher education, benefiting those who will go on to study geography at university" and doing what for those 95%+ (or whatever the % is) who will not be going to study geography at university?

The papers I have briefly skimmed seem to lack any understanding that teachers in schools will have new specifications for both A2 and GCSE at the same time. There seems to be an implication that we have the luxury of time (and money) to read, question, develop theoretical and concepts when in fact, survival and delivery of something that is comprehensible to our mixed ability students, will be our focus.

Let's finish on a positive note. Well done Keele, incidently where I completed my PhD albeit in Quaternary Geology, on producing the glaciation unit resource. Clear and with accessible resources and just three texts (one by author of the resource) although largely around £40 a copy.

And finally the link Steve put on this thread does take you to some excellent resources so certainly worth a look if not done so already.

General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: October 14, 2015, 10:16:09 PM »
We are currently looking to stay with (Eduqas) WJEC - support has always been excellent and we have been with them for years. I must declare an interest here as a marker.

Interesting point about own goal. That could be a real issue I fear.

General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: October 14, 2015, 08:05:52 PM »

For your information: The ALCAB group can be found here

The Geography Panel is chaired by Professor Martin Evans who is a Professor of Geomorphology at University of Manchester and Head of Geography in the School of Environment, Education and Development.

Geography Panel members are:

Dr Pippa Chapman, University of Leeds

Professor Klaus Dodds, University of London

Professor Richard Harris, School of Geographical Sciences

Professor Anthony Long, University of Durham

Dr Emma Mawdsley, University of Cambridge

Professor Richard Phillips, University of Sheffield

Ms Bridget Oeppen, Hills Road 6th Form College, Cambridge

Dr Alistair Owens, Queen Mary, University of London

Dr Ruth Weaver, Plymouth University

Dr Rita Gardner, Royal Geographical Society

Mr Alan Kinder, Geographical Association

 :o You ask how many (High School) teachers ? None actually, although RGS and GA represent teachers and there is one "former" VI Form College Head of Geography and Geology.

University Geography and research specialisms should remain just that and are not for the mainstream school market. After all if it is taught at A level what would happen to university Geography? No doubt we would also hear squeals from the universities that "you have not been taught correctly at school" or "why do we have to do catch up courses"? I thought the whole point of this review was to prevent repetition through the Key stages not to reinforce it !

How many of these ALCAB members have any experience of teaching "school geography" and the pressures and restrictions we have in delivering the subject, the lack of funds and resources for niche and currently unresourced topics, the difficulties of getting out of school, the fact that Geography is NOT every student who studies geography's priority.

In my opinion the overriding, yet fundamental, misunderstanding of this group is that Geography is one of 4 or even 5 A levels that these students will be studying. Many will have chosen it as their third or fourth subject, they have other priorities, interests and demands on their time. This is unlike the university students they teach, who largely study just the one subject, Geography, or like me maybe Joint Honours.

Some are already doing the conference and CPD circuits telling teachers how to teach what they have imposed. How many have book deals ready for the new A level in 2016 or are promoting their own texts as recommended reading?

Many of those expected to deliver this new syllabus will not, themselves, have been taught these topics at school or university and have no experience of them. Maybe, just maybe, those responsible for the new content will tour schools providing an insight into the expectations, maybe even market the subject to current Y11 students and enthuse them to take geography. Maybe their universities could fund it, after all they might even pick up some students as a result of it. Here's hoping.

General Discussion / Re: Cross Curricular Projects
« on: October 13, 2015, 11:57:33 PM »
Not sure how much "fun" that would be although you could do something about the cartography of battlefields with history.

Could you not link with the sciences to develop some bio-geography (biodiversity - using the OPAL surveys maybe), physics to do some atmosphere/weather research, biology and chemistry to look at water pollution etc.? All three sciences to do some geology !?

What year group(s) are you talking of?

General Discussion / Re: Core Content overviews for new A level
« on: October 13, 2015, 11:53:20 PM »
Hi Steve

I am sure that these will be well received BUT this is exactly what was predicted and posted about when the new specs came out: ALCAB appeared to have a number of people on it pushing their own niche geographies and lo and behold, these niche areas require those who put the content into the new specs to write resources, and no doubt textbooks, to support the understanding of these research specialisms.

Should there not be a clause preventing those placing their own research topics into the core curriculum from then benefitting financially? Isn't there a conflict of interests here?

General Discussion / Re: Text books or not
« on: October 08, 2015, 09:04:47 PM »
Following on from previopus post the best textbooks we have found BY FAR in recent times are the series of Basic and Essential Mapskills books by Simon Ross. Great support for many case studies and develop practical skills beautifully. Superb !!!!!!

General Discussion / Re: Text books or not
« on: October 08, 2015, 07:04:12 PM »
We hardly use textbooks at all, we feel that we develop materials that are more up to date and relevant. Following an email from a parent last year "do you not use textbooks because you have no money?" we have opted for digital Geog.1 / 2 / 3.

The books are accessible by ALL students and therefore relatively cost effective, we can dip in to each book with any class and so do not have to have multiple sets for each class, all students can access them at home although we do have some that stay in the class for cover etc. and the books are updated I think 4 times a year. The real bonus is no admin collecting them in or billing for lost and damaged books.

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