Aim: To extend teacher support using new geographical technologies, especially GIS (Geographic Information Systems), and to assess the effectiveness of training over time.
Background: The department was already a major provider of support to Geography teachers, with around 250 educators receiving training at over 20 events each year.
Method: The range and amount of support offered to educators such as workshops on how to use GIS has increased, especially regionally and within universities. The department has continued its partnership with the Gapminder Foundation, with one of the founders visiting the school on a number of occasions to trial and develop teaching resources. The school has provided webinars on the use of Gapminder’s statistical software in the classroom to educators across the world.
The school has become an ESRI UK School Centre of Excellence, and coupled with a successful bid for a Goldsmith’s Company Teacher’s Grant, this has allowed the school to develop its teacher training support. This has allowed visits to California and Virginia to observe and develop good practice.
GIS Day activities for Sixth Formers have gone from strength to strength and have attracted more schools and interest. Guest speakers have included world-renowned academics and industry professionals from organisations like Ordnance Survey and West Midlands police. The talks have been a positive experience for the students attending.
Geographical Association Branch talks have been very successful, and increased uptake from other schools has been particularly encouraging. Highlights have been talks about the BBC’s Africa series and desertification, and a visit by the Opal Weather Roadshow.
Evidence: Feedback from schools
Impact: From 2012-2015 the department has maintained and developed the range of support provided. Numbers have been maintained from year to year, which in the current economic climate can be viewed as a success. Teachers’ feedback has shown that they are more confident with using GIS within their Geography classes, especially with the new curriculum changes.
Feedback from other schools has shown that the talks have been incredibly valuable in allowing students and teachers to engage deeply with contemporary research. Schools have also commented that the support has been valuable where financial and academic constraints have prevented them from organising their own trips and activities.
Reflections: The majority of support and training has been carried out outside of school hours or in planning, preparation and assessment time; if it had only been during school time, very little would have been provided. Assessing the effectiveness of training has been more difficult than expected because of poor response rates to questionnaires. Electronic surveys through sites such as Survey Monkey have proved more effective, and when support is provided it is paramount that agreements are made in advance to provide follow-up feedback.
Contact: Bob Lang, firstname.lastname@example.org