Comparing Exam Specs – Exeter Meeting

exam_1250480aCalling all local geographers! A meeting has been organised for teachers to review and discuss the new GCSE and A Level exam specs. It will take place at Exeter School on Wednesday, October 14th. The day will begin at 9.30 am, with the morning until 12.00 pm devoted to GCSE. In the afternoon session from 1.00 pm to 3.30 pm we will focus on A Levels. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. Although we are still waiting for final confirmation of the exam specs, the meeting will provide an excellent opportunity for geography teachers to share ideas on the current draft specs with fellow professionals, with a view to deciding which spec will best suit their students in the coming years. This is a free course, and over thirty geographers have already signed up to attend. If you would like to join the meeting, please contact me at

It would be most helpful if all delegates brought with them copies of all of the proposed exam specs along with them to the meeting. This could be as printed hard copies, or electronic copies on a lap top. All of the specs can be downloaded from the list below.

At the meeting, we will analyse each spec in detail and make comparisons between them to help make an informed choice on our future direction of study. I look forward to seeing you on Thursday week!

GCSE Examination Specs (Draft Only!)

OCR ‘A’ – OCR-A-Draft-Spec

OCR ‘B’ – OCR-B-Draft-Spec

AQA – AQA-Draft-Spect

Edexcel ‘A’ –Edexcel-A-Draft-Spec

Edexcel ‘B’ – Edexcel-B-Draft-Spec

WJEC ‘A’ – wjec-eduqas-gcse-geography-a-specification

WJEC ‘B’ – wjec-eduqas-gcse-geography-b-specification

A Level Examination Specs (Draft Only!)

OCR ‘A’ Level – 223012-specification-draft-a-level-gce-geography-h481

OCR ‘AS’ Level – 222975-specification-draft-as-level-gce-geography-h081

AQA ‘A’ Level – AQA-7037-SP-2016-V0-1

AQA ‘AS’ Level – AQA-7036-SP-2016-V0-1

EDEXCEL ‘A’ Level – Edexcel-A-Level-Geography-Spec-Draft

EDUQAS ‘A’ Level – WJEC-Eduqas-A-level-Geography-DRAFT-Specification

It might also be helpful to bring along some of the sample assessment materials provided by the different exam boards on their own web sites:

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Living With A Changing Coast Fieldwork

imagesP89UJWHGLast Friday, I attended a meeting of local geography teachers who have been using the excellent FREE coastal resources produced as part of the LiCCo (Living With a Changing Coast) Project.

The Living With a Changing Coast Project is a cross-channel initiative that ran from April 2011 to February 2015, focusing on the Exe Estuary and Poole Harbour in South west England and a further five coastal sites in Normandy, France. The mission of LiCCo was to help coastal communities to adapt to coastal change and climate change impacts such as sea level rise and erosion. UK partners in the project are: the Environment Agency (main partner), National Trust, Exe Estuary Management Partnership (Devon County Council), and the Dorset Coast Forum.

I blogged about the launch of the LiCCo resources in March 2015 (listing the full contents of the secondary package), and although the Project has now been concluded, the three separate packages – for Primary, Key Stage Three and Four, and A Level studies – can all be downloaded for free from the main LiCCo web site at:

There is a huge range of materials available here, but for the main books, you can enter the resource library, and either use the filters to search, or scroll to July 2014 for the secondary pack, June 2014 for the primary pack, and March 2015 for the A Level resources.

DVDs containing the learning and teaching resources can be obtained free of charge by contacting the Exe Estuary Management Partnership at:

PrintThe resources have been written by David Wetherley, who I have worked with for many years in his former role as Geography Advisor for Devon. The programme received a ‘highly commended’ citation at the 2015 Geography Association Publishers Awards, and I was pleased to be at the conference in Manchester last April to see David receive his award.

Using the Exe Estuary and Poole Harbour as case studies, all resources are designed as investigations based around key enquiry questions to help pupils investigate how the coast is managed for people and the environment. Each investigation includes background information, detailed planning, and a wide variety of learning and teaching resources.

3At the meeting, we focused on the A Level resources, and examined the different technocentric and ecocentric approaches to coastal management used at Dawlish Warren, the focus case study for a number of the resources. Consideration was given to how cost benefit analysis is used to make decisions about hard and soft engineering options, and how ‘hold the line’, ‘managed realignment’ and ‘no active intervention’ policies can contribute to sustainable development of this coastal environment.

We found out that the implications of allowing natural processes to ultimately determine what happens at Dawlish Warren spit in the near future is that the risk of flooding will increase for communities around the shoreline of the Exe estuary that are currently protected by it. We examined tidal and overtopping flood risks to the town of Exmouth, and the hard engineering that has been introduced to protect this area. We then examined the concept of ‘coastal squeeze’, and how consequences of employing further hard defences to protect communities like Starcross, Powderham and Lympstone, would lead to at least 35 Hectares of compensatory habitat needing to be created.

IMG_0925The main part of the meeting was a site visit to Dawlish Warren. We were given a really informative guided tour of the existing coastal defences by Martin Davies from the Environment Agency (one of the key partners in the LiCCo Project), and Stephen Edwards, Education Ranger for the Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve. The two experts also outlined the future plans for this area, in response to further active erosion and potential sea level increase.

The Exe estuary is a complicated environment to study, but has so many different aspects (not least in terms of management options) offering a real wealth of opportunity for geography fieldwork and classroom study. The LiCCo packages provide a huge range of resources to support work in this location, and the enquiry style used to structure the materials can be adapted to any level of ability or depth of study. If any geographers are planning a visit and need further help or support, do not hesitate to give me a call!

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Blood Moon In Early Hours Of Monday

11012534-largeThe moon will loom large and turn a coppery red colour on Sunday night, as its closest approach to Earth coincides with a total lunar eclipse. This rare arrangement of Earth, moon and sun has not occurred since 1982, and will not be repeated until 2033 – so well worth setting the alarm to get up and take a look, and perhaps a few photographs.

Because the moon follows an elliptical orbit, its average distance from Earth changes – from as far away as 252,000 miles to as near as 226,000 miles. On Sunday evening, the moon will be at its closest, making it appear as a SUPER MOON, 14% larger in the sky than an average full moon.

This time, the moon’s closest approach (or PERIGREE), will coincide with a LUNAR ECLIPSE in the early hours of Monday morning over Europe, when the Earth moves in front of the sun and casts a shadow over the whole of the moon. The moon will not be blotted out, but will instead turn a dark rusty red. Though no sunlight will fall directly on the moon, it’s surface will be illuminated by light rays that refract through Earth’s atmosphere. Red light will bend around the Earth and light up the moon, but blue light will be scattered and lost in the atmosphere.

Some people believe that a ‘blood moon’ like this is the sign of impending apocalypse, bringing strange tidal activity, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. We will just have to wait and see!

Weather permitting, the large red moon will be visible across the whole of Britain from 1.10 am on Monday morning. At that moment, the Earth’s shadow will start to creep across the face of the full moon, causing it to dim and take on a yellowish hue. At 3.10 am, the moon will be fully in Earth’s shadow, and for an hour and twelve minutes will turn a dark, rusty red (or grey depending on surface conditions). The whole spectacle will be over by 6.25 am.

I am thinking about popping up to my local Dark Sky Reserve on Exmoor to get the best view – just going to need to pray for a cloudless night!

There are plenty of resources on You Tube that will help to explain this for students, along with some weird ‘end of the world’ doom and gloom predictions! One concise 2 minute visual explanation can be found at:

For further text information, try:

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Hans Rosling On TV

624There is a special treat in store for geographers this week –  on Wednesday 23rd September, the BBC are airing Hans Rosling’s documentary ‘Don’t Panic – How To End Poverty in 15 Years’ (from 8.00 pm to 9.00pm).

Professor Hans Rosling is a world famous Swedish statistical showman, and many of you will have used his excellent Gapminder web site in your geography teaching. I had the pleasure of listening to him present at a GA Conference a few years ago – probably my favourite highlight from all the annual GA events I have attended.

This ‘Don’t Panic’ documentary is being shown in the week that the United Nations is presenting its new goals for global development, and it will look at the number one goal of the world, eradicating what is called ‘extreme or absolute poverty’ – the condition of around a billion people currently measured as living on less than $1.25 a day – for the first time in human history. Rosling will use holographic-style projection technology to wield his iconic bubble graphs and income mountains to present an upbeat assessment of our ability to achieve that goal by 2030, interweaving his detailed statistical analysis with powerful human stories from families in Malawi and Cambodia.

If you are not yet familiar with Rosling’s work – this is a great chance to see what it is all about. You will soon realise how it can be a really effective and engaging classroom tool to support teaching about globalisation and world development.


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Rugby World Cup Resources

ScreenHunter_02 Sep. 20 20.05

I hoped to find time to produce some resources for the geography classroom based on the current rugby World Cup, but other commitments took priority. However, this excellent site has a vast range of statistics about the competing countries, allowing you to run the competition using different data as a focus. For example, in terms of population totals, the USA would lift the final trophy! It would be easy to match some worthwhile geography exercises to the data for topical whole lessons or occasional homeworks. Dig in!

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What Is The Real Cost Of Climbing Everest?

ScreenHunter_01 Sep. 20 19.55Further to yesterday’s post, I have just come across this excellent BBC ‘I Wonder’ resource about Everest. Great help if you are wanting to talk about the film in your lessons:

There is also an excellent work unit on Everest Mat Podbury’s wonderful website:

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Everest Movie

731a6dc4318cf751dad3c115902032ed_XLAny geographers found time yet to visit a cinema to see the newly released film “Everest”? This impressive big-budget blockbuster tells the true story of an expedition in 1996, which became the mountain’s deadliest climbing season, until the twin tragedies of 2014 and 2015. With little warning, a violent storm engulfed a team of climbers in one of the fiercest blizzards ever encountered by man, and the film examines the challenges they endured, as they faced exhaustion, confusion and delirium on the mountain. There is an interesting back-story of the pressures of adventure tourism, as the movie depicts a pivotal time when competing commercial expeditions were becoming a reality, creating considerable conflict with so many people being on the mountain at the same time.

Film trailer:


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