Geography turns the corner

1st September 2006 at 01:00
Despite being dogged by lack of status, a dated curriculum and falling pupil numbers, geography is on the up, says a key speakspeaker at this week's Royal Geographical Society conference.

Eleanor Rawling, from the department of educational studies at Oxford university, told The TES that the subject was "on the cusp" of change after years of neglect.

Mrs Rawling was due speak at the society's international conference in London this week about challenges the subject has faced and its future. She said a pound;2 million action plan to invest in better support, communication and development for the subject, along with positive feedback from a pilot GCSE in "more relevant, real world" geography, showed the subject was in a good position.

She said teachers and geographers had battled for more than a decade to improve the subject's status after it was sidelined in the Government's drive to focus on the core subjects of English, maths and science. Mrs Rawling said: "Kids were switching off. The subject didn't relate to what was going on around them."

The number of pupils taking geography at GCSE has been in decline for a number of years. This year, 213,469 students took the subject, down 1.5 per cent on last year. Rival humanities history and religious education enjoyed increased numbers with a 1.9 and 8.2 per cent year-on-year rise respectively.

More than 1,300 delegates were due to attend the three-day conference which ends today at the society's headquarters in Kensington Gore. Topics for debate included contemporary urban childhood, travel to school initiatives, and what children thought adults should be doing about the environment.

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