Physical Geography Special Interest Group


Chair: Duncan Hawley

Our purpose

The role of the Physical Geography SIG (PG SIG) is to enhance and support the teaching and learning of physical geography in primary and secondary schools.

We aim to do this by:

  • promoting the importance of physical geography in the school curriculum; particularly critical thinking through physical geography, its relevance to society (practical application) and its value for intellectual development (curiosity and explanation) and spiritual development (awe and wonder)
  • promoting effective teaching strategies and pedagogies for teaching physical geography topics in the curriculum, particularly approaches that inspire students’ interest, make topics accessible and encourage active teaching and learning
  • promoting up-to-date understanding of physical geography knowledge and concepts relevant to teachers
  • liaising with cognate groups and organisations and where appropriate, providing representation to external bodies concerned with educational and curriculum development
  • meeting once a term to discuss relevant issues and decide on actions for progress.

Who we are

We are teachers who are passionate about physical geography, usually because it has given us and our students so much pleasure in experiencing and understanding the world around us (physical geographers are never at a loss wherever they are!). The group comprises teachers, teacher educators and higher education lecturers, some of which are full members and others corresponding members:

  • Duncan Hawley
  • Janet Hutson
  • John Lyon
  • Therese Andrews
  • Sylvia Knight
  • Laura Dabbs
  • Judith Reed
  • Keith Hicks
  • Joanne Davey
  • Philip Monk
  • Rob Morris
  • Martin Reeves (corresponding member)
  • Rachael Atherton (corresponding member)

We are always keen to hear suggestions for useful projects from teachers (primary or secondary), so please do send ideas of what you think might be useful for our consideration - and if you are interested in joining or contributing the PGSIG in other ways then please get in touch with the Chair, Duncan Hawley.

What we do

The PGSIG meets three times a year (at GA HQ in Sheffield) to discuss and review progress with projects and we do much of the 'work' between meetings.

We meet at the GA Annual Conference where put on an ‘interactive’ display, deliver 'hands-on' workshops that provide interesting ways to teach physical geography topics that can seem remote or tricky, coordinate debates that stimulate teachers into thinking about the place of physical geography in the curriculum and organise lectures by leading physical geographers.

Over 2013 and 2014 we have:

  • collaborated with other organizations and learned societies (e.g. the Geological Society, Earth Science Teachers’ Association and the Royal Geographical Society) to promote and strengthen earth science and physical geography in the curriculum
  • responded to GCSE and A level consultations
  • written articles for Teaching Geography and GA News
  • organised a physical geography photo competition that encourages students to interact with physical geography by exploring and finding some aspect of physical geography in action outside the school context, and take digital images of what have discover (sponsored by Páramo Directionsl Clothing Systems Ltd)
  • contributed to WorldWise
  • delivered workshops for teachers giving practical knowledge and ideas on teaching physical geography
  • developed support and planning materials to support teachers strengthen the quality of their physical geography teaching and lessons
  • worked with the British Geological Survey in the design and resourcing of a revised geological map of the British Isles
  • quality assured the physical geography content of materials produced by the GA or that is linked to the GA website.

Our Future plans

Over 2014 to 2019 we are planning to:

  1. Support the GA in becoming a ‘trusted voice’ in matters relating to the teaching of physical geography, particularly in quality assurance and advising on the accuracy of teaching materials and resources, and working with other organisations.
  2. Develop the physical geography photo competition
  3. Work with the Fieldwork and Outdoor Learning SIG to develop a proposed ‘Year of Fieldwork’
  4. Continue to create and develop stimulating resources to support teachers improve the quality of teaching and learning of physical geography in the National Curriculum, at GCSE and at A level.
  5. Create and develop 5 themed ‘classic’ landscape/skyscape resources, that can be used to support learning about physical geography and its impact on landscapes and people in lessons and/or for students and their families to use to explore when visiting to sites in the series. We are planning to complete one resource each year.
  6. Look for and exploit opportunities where learning about physical geography makes a positive impact on students’ understanding about and appreciation of the world.

The PGSIG Work Plan for 2014-2015 can be downloaded here.

The PG SIG at the GA Annual Conference


Workshop 47 - Physical impact: sudden or slow?

Duncan Hawley, Chair, and Janet Hutson, Keith Hicks, Philip Monk and John Lyon, Members, GA Physical Geography Special Interest

This session will explore teaching strategies and activities that tackle the tricky idea of how timescales affect landscapes and environments. It will consider approaches to finding evidence of the short- and long-term impact of physical processes, and highlight how these key concepts/skills are fundamental to students’ appreciation of effective decision-making in issues linked to physical environments.

Download: Workshop Outline (PDF)

Download: Activity 1 Outline (PPT)

Download: Activity 1 Notes for Teachers (PDF)

Download: Activity 1 Activity Sheet (PDF)

Download: Activity 1 Activity Sheet (PDF)

Download: Activity 2 Outline  (PDF)

Download: Activity 2 Powerpoint (PPT)

Download: Activity 2 Powerpoint (PPT)

Download: Activity 3 Outline (PDF)

Download: Activity 3 Activity Sheet (PDF)

Download: Previous years' PGSIG Conference highlights

Comment on this page

Comments made by GA members appear instantly and don't require security words to be entered - make sure you're logged in! Guest comments will be sent to a moderator for approval.

Join the GA

For professional journals, huge discounts on publications and CPD and online access to member only resources.

Join now
  • Become a geography examiner
  • Cambridge International Examinations
Receive our email newsletters

Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates throughout the year.