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Geography 'must fight' the squeeze

The Geographical Association's annual conference urged its members to stand up for their subject. Sarah Cassidy reports

GEOGRAPHY teachers must "go into battle" to protect their subject's place in the curriculum, the Geographical Association annual conference was told this week.

The study of geography is more vital than ever and should be used to teach across the school curriculum, Keith Grimwade, chair of the association's education committee, told delegates.

Geography can be used for literacy, numeracy and citizenship lessons and must not be squeezed out of schools, he said.

Roger Carter, association president, said geography was in danger of being sidelined by ministers. "The Government says it wants breadth and balance in the curriculum but its actions have done much to destroy it. We are going into battle on this one," he said.

"Narrowing the curriculum is not the way to raise standards in literacy and numeracy. It is the children in the most disadvantaged schools who will lose most under the current narrowing of the curriculum."

Last year, Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett aimed to create more time for the 3Rs by allowing primaries to cover less than the full curriculum in history, geography, art, music, design and technology and physical education.

Mr Carter said that it had seriously damaged geography teaching. Morevover the on-going curriculum review looked set to remove vital subject content.

He urged teachers to write to Mr Blunkett, asking him to make more time for geography.

The three-day conference in Manchester saw the launch of the association's curriculum policy document which it hopes will influence the Government's thinking.

It calls for primary children to spend at least an hour a week on geography and for the post-14 curriculum to be made more flexible, allowing more time for the subject.

The report says: "We believe that geography makes both a distinctive and a wider contribution to the curriculum, and that it is an essential component in preparing young people for life in the 21st century."

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