Chair: Gill Miller
What we do
We want to celebrate and support geography in all schools across Wales! The Wales SIG meets regularly by zoom – often for just an hour on Monday evenings. We find that shorter meetings keep us focused and it’s easier for busy teachers to find an hour rather than commit to a whole day.
We focus on the concerns of the moment. Recently this has involved sharing thoughts and views on the new GCSE in Wales. Several of our team have been involved in the Qualifications Wales development group. We created the scaffolds on different themes to support the new curriculum. These are available as PowerPoint presentations to share with colleagues in schools.
We write and organise the annual WelshWise Quiz which takes place on the North, South and MidWales. Look out for past quizzes on the website and read about our winners in GA magazine.
We have held successful twilight webinars for teachers with the aim of supporting classroom activities and, critically, helping teachers to stay connected. These are also on the website for your reference. There is also a very useful supporting PowerPoint on Fieldwork in school grounds, from Fiona Rennie.
We are very keen to respond to teachers’ needs, in primary and secondary schools. Please get in touch if you think we can help and address an issue of concern.
The aims of the Welsh Special Interest Group are to:
- represent the views of primary and secondary geography teachers in Wales to the GA and liaise with other organisations and groups concerned with geography in Wales
- promote information, innovations and good practice in geographical education throughout Wales and beyond
- initiate discussion and, when relevant, write reports relevant to geography teaching and learning in Wales
- monitor current developments concerning geography in Wales and geographical issues in England which also pertain to Wales.
School experiences of delivering geography in the Curriculum for Wales: 2 teachers share their programmes
The team on the Wales Special Interest Group are here to support all geography teaching in Wales, and especially colleagues who are working on their own. Planning and embedding geography within Curriculum for Wales is exciting but challenging. Two colleagues are sharing what they have done in their schools in the video below, by way of encouragement and sharing ideas. Each school is different, but finding out what other schools are doing is hopefully reassuring.
Very many thanks go to Becky Carpenter at Brecon High and Steph Robinson at Pencoedtre High.
In Wales ‘hiraeth’ describes the way people feel about their home and landscape.
Here are some ideas from Welsh geographers which express how they feel about their own place in Wales.
‘Hiraeth to me is when I pass thought the green fields of sheep surrounded by the hills and mountains of north Wales. It delivers warmth and comfort to know I’m amongst friendly family, friends and strangers.’
‘To me it’s about my heart. I travel a lot in the UK with my hobbies and get to see a great deal of the countryside but nothing feels the same as when I know I am home, in Wales. It’s hard to describe but being Welsh is a passion, it’s about being proud and it’s where I am from!’
‘I suppose my cynefin is North Wales. From the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia to the Clywdian Range and its beautiful Vale I have been lucky to experience it all. I have walked it, ridden a bike around it, studied it and lived there all my life. It is my habitat.’
‘As you come along the A5 back to Betws-y-coed on a clear day, past the small village of Pentrefoelas, you are rewarded with a view of the mountains of Snowdonia laid out in a great panorama, and you know you are nearly home. You can just about pick out the varied magical spots which surround the Conwy Valley, from steep rocky mountain tops to wooded lowlands and green fields. Each place you have visited or walked around reminds you of a personal memory or anecdote. Of course often it is raining and the view has to be imagined, and then you certainly feel like you are back in North Wales!’
Curriculum for Wales is the pioneering curriculum which aims to raise standards and enable teachers to use their professional skills to meet local needs. The official start in both primary and secondary schools has been delayed until 2022. There are 6 Areas of learning Experience (AoLE). Geography is situated with history, social studies and RE in the Humanities AoLE. To help students learn in a more coordinated way ‘What matters’ statements identify common themes, concepts and transferable skills in each AoLE. Teachers will develop their own curriculum based on the What matters statements.
The GA Welsh Special Interest Group is supporting teachers in their curriculum development process by producing a series of PowerPoint scaffolds on a variety of Humanities themes for years 7–9 (equivalent to KS3 in England). Each scaffold suggests learning opportunities for history, social studies, business studies and RE, but the real substance is to identify the geography which can be explored within the theme. Each theme highlights several geographical strands, with key questions, examples and links to the What matters statements.
Geography really matters postcards
Download a lesson activity which encourages students to send a postcard to their headteacher, school governors, local MP etc explaining why geography really matters.
Cardiff case studies
If you are looking for up to date A level teaching material then check out the Cardiff Case Studies. This excellent resource from Cardiff Universities geography department covers everything from coasts to the impact of a major sporting event. Highly recommended.
Welsh SIG resources
125 facts about Wales, which will help you prepare for the WelshWise quiz.
WelshWise student quiz
The WelshWise quiz, coordinated by the GA Special Interest Group for Wales, provides an opportunity for Y8-9 students to demonstrate their geographical knowledge, understanding and skills in relation to current events and matters of global and local significance. The WelshWise Quiz 2024 will be held in June 2024. Visit the WelshWise page to find out more.
Curriculum for Wales webinars
New GCSE Geography in Wales (presentation from Qualification Wales)
Sustainability in Wales: case studies for the new curriculum
Welsh Special Interest Group members
- Gill Miller, Wales SIG (Chair)
- Becky Carpenter, Brecon High School
- Laura Gilleland, St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School, Flint
- Rhod Haines, Ysgol Bryngwyn School, Llanelli
- Nicola Hawley, formerly St Gerard’s School Trust, Bangor
- Rob Pengelly, Welshpool High School
- Fiona Rennie, Ysgol Friars, Bangor
- Alex Turley, Bishop Hedley High School, Merthyr Tydfil