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Celebrating 10,000 members of the Geographical Association

Celebrating 10,000 members of the Geographical Association

Today the GA celebrates reaching a new milestone – we’ve recently achieved 10,000 concurrent members of the association. As our membership now sits at its highest point since the millennium, we would sincerely like to thank all of our members for their dedication in furthering the pursuit of geography education and to promoting the relevance of geography as a subject.

To mark the occasion, Alan Parkinson, GA President 2021–22 and Head of Geography at King’s Ely School, has written the following release:

Alan Parkinson - GA President 2021-2022Ten thousand heads are better than one

At the GA Annual Conference in April 2013, I co-presented a workshop with Tony Cassidy and John Sayers on the power of collaboration and how two (hundred) heads are better than one. It was a reminder of the importance of connecting with each other.

Teaching is a profession which involves continuous learning in terms of both pedagogy and the subject knowledge it explores. Geography is a subject which particularly demands that these are regularly updated: a strength (and challenge) of our discipline is that it is in a constant state of becoming. Each day brings a fresh flow of exemplars to consider. This is difficult to do alone but joining a community of practice makes it far easier. Post-COVID (if that’s what we are moving towards now) the personal and professional connections we make, both real and virtual, will be even more important. Susan Pike’s 2021 Conference theme of ‘Compassionate geographies’ was particularly timely and apt.

Our discipline’s subject association, the Geographical Association, has always existed to encourage the sharing of resources: initially lantern slides back in the 1890s, but now a whole range of digital materials, CPD courses, printed books and networking through volunteer groups and a network of branches. Departments can audit their work against our Quality Mark frameworks and individuals can complete our Professional Passport or Professional Award.

GA membership unlocks all these benefits, and our membership is growing. I’m delighted to say that it is now over ten thousand. This provides the GA not only with income but also with an increasing ‘voice’ to advocate for the subject to government ministers, OFSTED and others, and to add weight to our responses to official consultations on assessment and curriculum change. The GA has had to work hard, along with others, to ensure that geography remains on the curriculum and to communicate the value of the discipline. Membership funding also enables further additions to be made to the GEO website and further episodes of our GeogPod podcast series.

The GA has grown tremendously since its initial founding meeting in 1893, but the last few decades have seen a slow decline in membership. It is encouraging that in these straitened financial times colleagues see the value in belonging to the Association which of course also offers access to our wonderful journals, discounts on orders from the shop and a reduction in fees for the Annual Conference. The GA’s journals are published three times a year, and provide inspiration for classroom-based research, practical ideas and resources. Why not consider writing something for one of them? Subscribing to a journal as part of your membership also opens up access to a digital archive of past issues. For the journal Geography this goes right back to 1901 when it was The Geographical Teacher.

We have recently extended our membership offer for NQTs to two years, to support Early Career Teachers. Joining the GA also opens opportunities to get involved with the association in various ways through our volunteer groups.

Michael Storm, GA President 1988–89, referred to the GA community and events as providing ‘professional zest’.

In the first issue of The Geographical Teacher in 1901, the President at the time, Douglas Freshfield, said that teachers were ‘for the most part scattered and too busy to come together frequently for discussion. They require a medium through which they may readily communicate with one another, exchange experiences an learn the progress that is being made in method.’ The GA community offers that method to bring teachers together.

Come and join us!

And if you are already a member, whether individually or as part a group – thank you for supporting the GA and our work.