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Geography @ Priory

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I was really pleased and excited yesterday to receive an email from the Geographical Association informing us that we had been successful in our bid to gain a fieldwork funding award. The Frederick Soddy Award will enable our GCSE Geographers to visit a location that will stretch their personal geography and provide a contrasting location to Portsmouth.

This recent addition to the department’s recent successes and our very own Jo Debens (@GeoDebs) imminent departure to the Microsoft European Innovative Teachers Forum in Moscow has allowed me to reflect upon the need to go for Awards and Grants. Is it just badge collecting or is there something deeper and more important?

In the past 18 months our department has received, amongst other things:

Some of these activities take a teacher out of the classroom, something which I am not in favour of in large doses. But what are the advantages?

To answer that we have to think back to February 2008 and the Ofsted menace.  The department was failing.  Judged inadequate. With GCSE results that were heartbreaking and failing our students.

Three years later, we would argue that the picture is different.  Part of this is going for and being successful with initiatives such as those above.  In a nut shell:

  • Awards provide independent, outside recognition for staff.  This improves morale, team spirit and teaching.
  • The money that accompanies grants makes it possible to explore new, better pedagogies. (and not always linked to new technologies) This leads to better results.
  • These awards provide the opportunity to share with a wider audience the successes and failures of our department. This improves the self-esteem and professional worth of a team. We are doing something worthwhile.
  • As a result of improving teaching methods and (more importantly) having the time to change what we teach, GCSE numbers have leapt from 24 entries in 2010 to an expected 94 entries this year. 
  • The profile of the department has been raised in the school and city. Students want to do Geography, and the department feels like a buzzing place to learn.

Of course, this is only part of what we do ;-)


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