Just before Food Technology stole the limelight Geography got its 15 minutes of infamy; an Ofsted report had highlighted many issues that were leading to declining numbers of children taking Geography at GCSE and beyond despite the subject getting great results:
- lack of fieldwork
- lack of relevance
- non specialist teachers
- students having a greater range of subjects to choose from
- students having a reduced choice due to languages being compulsory in some schools (including my own)
My school is certainly one of the schools suffering this malaise despite a number of initiatives:
- more relevant topics: ‘Make Poverty History’, ‘Global Warming’, ‘The Olympics’ and ‘The Rugby World Cup’
- a campaign to highlight where Geography can lead you: outside speakers and a homework project researching Geography jobs
- an outside speaker programme
- highlighting that GCSE topics are interesting and that the exams are doable by teaching them about Shanty Towns and giving them a GCSE question on them.
It’s now time for my Antarctic expedition to enter the ring in this fight for survival. I’m using it as the sexy billboard for the subject. The Year 9s have just had their talk launching the options process and so next week I’m heading into assemblies armed with incredible pictures and a powerpoint that flashes the words ‘Choose Geography’ very rapidly! Even before the assemblies there are signs that the expedition is having a positive effect on attitudes:
- Nearly every parent at the two parents evenings this term has told me that their little darling won’t shut up about my trip
- I gave my first set of assemblies just before the students decided whether or not to apply for the next school expedition (to Borneo) and numbers are up significantly on the last trip.
It could be said that I’ve gone to the ends of the Earth, quite literally, for my subject!