Bob Lang is a geography teacher at King Edward VI Five Ways School in Birmingham, and a Royal Geographical Society-chartered geographer. He was one of two teachers to receive an Ordnance Survey Award, recognising excellence in geography teaching in secondary schools, at the Royal Geographical Society's annual awards ceremony.
Were you amazed to receive the award?
I wasn't expecting it at all, it was a real surprise. I was presented with it by Michael Palin, president of the Royal Geographical Society, and Vanessa Lawrence, chief executive of Ordnance Survey. It was a really good ceremony, held at the Royal Geographical Society.
What did you receive the award for?
It is for the work I have been doing on developing our teachers. I have been involved in outreach work for a lot of different organisations, such as our subject association, the Geographical Association, and on PGCE courses, particularly on the use of digital mapping Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology.
So geography isn't all about maps and crayons?
No, I've been showing teachers what digital mapping is. It's about getting teachers into using technology, and getting them more confident in using it. I've been supporting new teachers and old teachers. It will also help students grow in confidence and learn vital skills, not just for geography.
What is digital mapping used for?
Increasingly, GIS is used in everyday life from disaster management to retail marketing, so having GIS skills is hugely beneficial for any student's employability. It's a tool that can be used for many different jobs, now and in the future. If you're looking for a location to build houses, where should you put flood defences? Where should people live? If you work in retail marketing, where should you put a new shop? GIS can be used for all these things.
Could the EBac boost geography's popularity?
In my school it's not an issue - I work in a state grammar, and all our students are already doing a humanity, history or geography, at GCSE - but I think it will raise the profile of geography, and new technology will help get students interested.