Geographical Association 2018

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

Earlier this month, the Geography Field Studies team at Skern Lodge represented the centre at the Geographical Association annual conference at Sheffield Hallam University.

Each year the conference welcomes more than 750 delegates from all over the world to take part in a range of lectures, workshops, field visits, and social events in order to find out about the latest ideas, resources, and available support in primary and secondary geography.

The conference hosts the UK's largest exhibition of geographical resources, and includes passionate representatives from field study centres, publishers, tour operators, exam boards, universities, and many other organisations – including Skern Lodge!

Myself and my colleague Jack arrived at Sheffield Hallam University after a long drive up from the North Devon coast on Thursday afternoon, and set up the Skern stand before exploring the lovely city of Sheffield.

Imagine two Geographers exploring a new settlement in your mind’s eye, and the image is probably about right (insert colouring pencils joke here). We immediately established a Belt Transect that would take us to the Sheffield Town Hall and surrounding Peace Gardens (CBD), and embarked on an Urban Drifting circuit that would encompass the intersecting high streets. Our instinctual fieldwork sampling continued with an Environmental Quality Index analysis within the glass walls of the Winter Gardens, a curious tropical jungle greenhouse, though we resisted the urge to deploy our Placemaking Questionnaires on the citizens of Sheffield.

The Conference itself on the Friday and Saturday was excellent. Each year, the feel and atmosphere that is created by the assembled delegates, workshop leaders, and exhibitors is one of inspiration and overwhelming positivity. I had the pleasure of catching up with past colleagues from several other quality residential and fieldwork providers, as well as attend several workshops:

· Independent investigation in the new A level specifications; Elizabeth Rynne, Chair, GA Assessment and Examinations Special Interest Group

· Reflections on the first A level cycle – how’s it gone?; Daniel Cowling, Deputy Headteacher, Vyners School, London

· The Independent Investigation: views from year 13; Dr Rebecca Kitchen, Secondary Curriculum Leader, Geographical Association

· Viking lands: an enquiry with history and geography in mind; Alf Wilkinson, Consultant

· What does fieldwork contribute to geography education?; Chair: Rob Lucas, Chief Executive, Field Studies Council; Panel: Mary Fargher, Lecturer in Geography Education, UCL Institute of Education, London, and Alan Kinder, Chief Executive, Geographical Association

· How to plan a ‘brilliant’ residential with maximum impact; Peter Carne, National Advisor, Learning Away

· Qualitative fieldwork methods for the A level independent investigation; Rob Morris, Consultant to the GA

Of course, the main reason that we endeavour to have a presence at the Geographical Association annual conference is to meet face-to-face with Geography Teachers. Whether they’re already loyal customers who have a longstanding relationship with Skern Lodge or prospective new ‘clients’ that’re looking to bring a fresh cohort of students to visit us on the North Devon coast, the conversations and connections that are forged at the GA are significant and keep us coming back each year.

Also, all the free stuff. My desk drawers are full to the brim with pens – should last me until July.


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