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Building Sustainable Communities: Online CPD Unit

Developing your thinking

In the book by David Hicks quoted earlier in this unit there is a chapter called ‘Stories of hope: A response to the psychology of despair’.

‘The new century, like the old, faces all the hazards and complexities of post-modern life which pose particular problems for those teaching about social, environmental and global issues. How does one stay close to the discomfort of such issues without falling into despair? In periods of rapid turbulent change it seems crucially important to be able to identify the sources of hope and inspiration that educators and others may draw on. In an investigation designed to identify such sources the process of sharing came to be seen as a vital source of hope in its own right.’

Hicks, D. W. (2006) Lessons for the Future: the missing dimension in education, Oxford: Trafford Publishing.

We hope this unit contributes to and enhances your curriculum making and that your professional work with others provides a ‘vital source of hope’.

Your learning journey

There are a number of ways to gain recognition for your work. You may be happy using these ideas for your own personal development as a geography teacher. Equally, you may be using them with a group of like-minded colleagues. Either way, please send some thoughts to share with others.

Alternatively, if you are a member of the GA, you may wish to share your ideas and view those of others engaged on CPD activities via the GA’s own virtual learning environment. If this is the case, then please email us for more information.

We hope that you will share your ideas, and in particular your curriculum making plans, with us for others to use and respond to. Simply contact us with any resources or ideas. We can then add these to this website. We want to encourage a lively exchange of ideas and approaches to making an enjoyable, relevant and worthwhile curriculum. We want to show a wide variety of valid ways to teach geography.

Professional Recognition

You may also be interested in receiving professional recognition for your work. The GA has an arrangement with the General Teaching Council in England’s Teacher Learning Academy to offer membership for teachers engaged on the Action Plan for Geography Curriculum Making Courses.

There is also the option to gain masters level accreditation for your work by enrolling with Sheffield Hallam University to participate in their 30-point Professional Learning in the Workplace module.

For some colleagues, professional recognition through the RGS-IBG’s Chartered Geographer (Teacher) scheme may well be appropriate.

Using this online unit will also help your department work towards the Secondary Geography Quality Mark. Using the relevant quality mark criteria will help you in the preparation of your Self-evaluation Form (SEF).

GA/GTCE Teacher Learning Academy recognition

The GTC Teacher Learning Academy offers public and professional recognition of teachers’ learning, development and improvement work. It aims to stimulate learning experiences for teachers which are effective for them, for their students, for their schools and, specifically in the case of this partnership, for the geography teaching community. The Teacher Learning Academy (TLA) provides a national system for teacher learning and professional development in England. For more about this initiative, visit the TLA website.

There are six core dimensions at the heart of the TLA’s approach to teacher learning. They are based on solid research evidence about effective continuing professional development. The six core dimensions are:

  • engaging with the knowledge base
  • coaching and mentoring
  • planning your learning
  • carrying out your plan
  • sharing your learning and influencing practice
  • evaluating your learning and its impact

There are four stages in the Teacher Learning Academy. It is not necessary to work through from stages one to four. You should select the stage that is most suited to you, but we strongly recommend that you consider presenting at stage one or two before embarking on a project at stage three or four.

Each stage differs in terms of:

Sphere of influence
Stage One impacts mainly on your own classroom, but may also benefit other colleagues in your school (and the geography teaching community through the GA). Stage Two will impact on other colleagues in your school and department, as well as on the wider geography teaching community.

Stage One: half a term. Stage Teo: one to two terms.

Depth of enquiry, reflection and analysis
Stage One: descriptive account. Stage Two: evidence of reflection, through your account of a learning breakthrough.

Presentation requirements
Stage One: learning plan (written) and learning journal (any medium – if written, no more than 1,500 words). In addition, at Stage Two you will present your learning breakthrough (if written, this will be no more than 1,000 words).

You can become a member at any stage if you belong to both the GA and the GTC in England and you are using the online units. Simply register with the GTC TLA and email us so that we can arrange tutorial support.

When planning your sequence of learning to try out any of the ideas shared in this CPD unit, we would strongly encourage you to use either the Stage 1 or the Stage 2 Learning Journal, Planning and Learning Breakthrough template.

We look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your work in this GA and ASC project ‘Living Geography: building sustainable communities’.

Unit written by Angus Willson, project leader, with comments from John Lyon, Di Swift (GA) and Amanda Lane (ASC).


This project was run in partnership with the Academy for Sustainable Communities which has since become the Skills and Knowledge team at the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

Become a member

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Geography Quality Marks

Register for the 2025 Quality Mark before 31 July and receive a 20% discount off your fee

National Festival of Fieldwork 2024

The GA encourages everyone to take part in June 2024