Geography and the GA in Changing Times


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Alan Kinders Keynote speech from the Geography Summer Conference at UWE

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  • Thank organiser for inviting me.Set out key elements of what I am saying –Overview of curriculum position and changeSome key trends and implications
  • Geography GCSE Grew 3.5% in 2012 6th fastest growing subject IPSOS-Mori poll suggests 36% take geography, up from 25% a few years ago Moved up one place to 9 – Ebacc influence?A level 2012 entries for geography A-level increased by 779 despite a 0.6 drop in total entries for all A-levels 3.5% of entries Only just in top 10 of subjects when numbers revised – greater choice to blame?
  • Let’s celebrate our ‘place in the sun’ (again)And the characterisation of geography as a worthwhile and rigorous subject – a means of acquiring a ‘Different View’ of the world (introducing students to the world as an object of thought, not experience).Which means we should emphasise ‘thinking geographically’ and:- improved locational knowledge e.g. where countries, climatic zones and vegetation belts are;- better balance between physical and human geography, which supports better environmental understanding;- sound understanding of the how and why of geography - the social, economic and environmental processes that help explain why environments, places and societies are different and how they are changing.
  • Stress the reach of the GA throughout the international subject communityAnd its significant influence on policy nationallyNow involved in major national projects e.g. The Global Learning Programme, sponsored by DfID, until 2017 (£17 million programme to raise the quality of global learning in 50% of English schools).Organisation in good health despite challenging conditions re: membership, funding, publications sales. ‘Swimming upstream’.
  • Talk through timelines and GA involvementKS3 Make clear that the GA curriculum consultation (2011) and proposals (2012) have been instrumental in securing a place for the GA at the top table with civil servants and ministers That representing our members to policy makers is one of our key functions – the size of the membership gives us legitimacy and a stronger voice than 6000 individuals That the ‘rules of engagement’ this time around have been different. Fewer professional organisations. Shorter timeframe. Clear steer on the nature of the curriculum (slimmer). Reduced capacity for consultation.KS4/5 Interventions with Ofqual to urge release of specifications and agree changes for the future (GA conference lecture) EBC response and awarding bodies representation Similar process for A level in placeMention GA pages on curriculum and qualification reform
  • Key featuresThis is a new approach to writing a national curriculum - a concise document which sets out clearly ‘the knowledge and understanding that all children should be expected to acquire in the course of their schooling‘ (2010 white paper) And it seeks to rebalance the curriculum, ensure place knowledge, understanding of geographical processes especially physical processes, as well as technical skills Should we be concerned, or relaxed, at the omissions? Will this set a tone for transmission of fixed and inert facts, or allow freedom to innovate?Key challenges The orders do not suggest how to teach, nor how to plan, sequence of assess. They don’t even apply to all! More support MIGHT be flagged up/linked from the statutory document for the first time. But will YOU and your department feel skilled up to teach all physical processes? The GA is working hard behind the scenes to prepare materials, training etc. Level Descriptors gone – how will schools track progress? Refer to DfE circular on assessment...
  • This diagram represents the relationship between the essential core and the curriculum taught in two different schools. It helps to establish what the curriculum is not: a comprehensive account of the geography to be taught.
  • NotesDirection of travel Single EBC would be awarded to a franchise, but GA has argued that this won’t work, as have ABs, as it would lead to loss of specialist expertise linear is already being established, but very difficult to design terminal exams that cater for all Much to play for as to whether fieldwork is recognised through exam of other means Gove’s original idea – for split qualifications – will not wash. So combining higher standards with expectation that those not achieving A*-B will only get a statement of attainment is unworkable. GA argues for clear recognition of everybody’s achievementImplications a terminal exam 16 years with ONE spec would ‘drive’ the 11-16 curriculum (ref above – non-maintained schools) the GA is advising government on ways to reduce overlap and ensure the breadth and challenge 14-16. This is the first time this has happened. increased take-up (IPSOS-Mori Oct 2012 = 36%) has implications for engaging pupils who previously didn’t choose geography future of Ibs and iGCSEs uncertain but political climate in favour of these
  • (for example through the study of cross-cutting themes such as food and energy security)e.g. through fieldwork in a locality or through a detailed investigation of aspects of living in the UKvaluing fieldwork – as an intrinsic part of the subject’s tradition, its methods of investigation and as a means of ensuring that young people experience the world directly as part of a rich school curriculumbalancing the development of thematic knowledge and understanding (e.g. about volcanoes) with knowledge of specific places and with geographical skills
  • Geography and the GA in Changing Times

    1. 1. Geography and the GA in changing times
    2. 2. ‘League’ position GCSE numbers A level numbers Year Geography History Geography History 1996 302 298 226 808 44 881 40 495 2003 232 830 218 565 35 749 42 018 2009 196 018 200 000 32 227 48 000 2012 187 022 222 983 32 005 51 652 0 10,000 20,000 30,000 40,000 50,000 60,000 70,000 80,000 90,000 English Mathematics Biological Sciences Psychology History Chemistry Art and Design General Studies Physics Geography Candidates A level entries 2012
    3. 3. Source: Weeden P (2010) National entry pattern
    4. 4. Curriculum status – ‘now’ • Explicit requirement for all students to study geography Key Stages 1-3 • Renewed focus on subject rigour: – improved locational knowledge – better balance between physical and human geography – sound understanding of the how and why of geography • One of ‘traditional’ subjects of the English Baccalaureate 14-16 • A ‘facilitating’ subject post-16 • Highest employability statistics for graduates • UK human geography ranked first in the world in ESRC benchmarking review
    5. 5. Organisational position • members in over 60 countries • ½ million website visits annually, from over 200 countries • over 1000 teachers per year in GA CPD • 14 000 publication sales per year • policy voice for geography 5000 5200 5400 5600 5800 6000 6200 Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 TARGET 2012-13 RECENT GA MEMBERSHIP TRENDS
    6. 6. 2012 2013 2014 2015 S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D J B M A M J J A S O N D J B M A M J J A S GCSE subject criteria Change down the line GNC drafted GNC consulted GNC released Preparations begin GNC applied Teaching begins EBC consultation Ofqual reforms to current GCSEs A level criteria review Ofqual Reforms to current A levels A level specs available? A level begins? A level consultation closes/reports GCSE draft spec? GCSE final spec? New GCSEs begin HELP A level draft specs?
    7. 7. New statutory Orders Key features • Skeletal – ‘not a curriculum’ • Focus on places, processes and procedures • Ignores the ‘geological underpinnings’ of concepts Key challenges • Any incentive to change? • Greater teacher autonomy? • Assessment – the tension between guiding and reporting HELP
    8. 8. Core and local curriculum Local curriculum opportunities, preferences and priorities Core knowledge, understanding and skills all pupils should acquire
    9. 9. Student experiences, motivations, learning Geography: the subject discipline Teachers’ pedagogic choices and performance How does this take the learner beyond what they already know? Curriculum Making
    10. 10. GA help and guidance • How to manage change • Linking concepts to content • Selecting places for study – ‘major’ countries, regions, scale • Location, place and context knowledge • Powerful geographical knowledge • Transition from KS2 • Creative approaches to curriculum • Writing geographically • Map making and reading • GIS • Fieldwork • Assessment
    11. 11. Reforming GCSE Key features • Choice - single EBC specification postponed • Prescribed physical, human, environmental core content • Terminal written assessment only? Key challenges • Fieldwork assessment • Meeting raised standards – in a single exam paper? • Extended writing • Maintaining increased take-up (above 36%?) HELP
    12. 12. A ‘world class’ 14-16 curriculum? • Extend their knowledge of locations, places and contexts • Understand some key processes, concepts, theories and perspectives • Develop competence in maps, fieldwork, GIS, research and evidenced argument • Apply geographical knowledge and skills to real contexts and new situations • Locational and place knowledge • Geography of the UK • Geomorphic processes and landscape • Weather and climate • Ecosystems and resource management • Cities and urbanisation • Global economic development
    13. 13. • dismay at trend in HE geography departments for a ‘year zero’ for undergrads • A-level geographers should acquire substantial body of knowledge about locations, places, environments and processes • A-level criteria ignore need to understand and critically analyse geographical models or theories • A-level geography criteria should include complex systems and interactions and analysis of complex data and problems • explicit reference to fieldwork should be made in the aims and objectives of A-level geography • A-level geog students must be confident users of maps, adept in handling geographic information and able to use GIS • A-level criteria should provide a balance of human and physical geography A levels fit for purpose? @GAChiefExec: HELP
    14. 14. For discussion • Things that excite, worry or confuse you • Things your school is saying, doing, planning • Opportunities, threats • Queries and questions