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The Secondary Geography Quality Mark

The SGQM timeline

There are five steps to achieving the SGQM:

  1. Before you register – Discuss with colleagues and your senior leadership team the implications of applying for the SGQM. Gather support, both in terms of finance and planning time, to help you through what is a sustained, collaborative, reflective process. Check on your school’s membership status – your school must be a member of the GA when you register for the award. Free primary membership does not qualify your school to undertake the SGQM. You can join online or by calling GA HQ on 0114 296 0088.
  2. Register – This can be done online or by contacting You can register at any point, but the deadline for each year is 31 December for the following Summer cohort. 
  3. Audit– You will log into PebblePad, our online award platform, to use the data dashboard and self-assessment framework to audit the department’s strengths and areas to focus on. It is a good idea to do this collaboratively at a department meeting and to tie aspects you want to develop in with your departmental improvement plan and appraisal targets.
  4. Complete SGQM application and collect evidence– You will need to write a brief reflective commentary and add one piece of evidence for every criteria on the SGQM framework. This is the step which takes the most time – at least two terms is usual – and is used by the moderators to assess your submission. Your application should tell the story of your department and include the areas you want to celebrate and the aspects you have developed.
  5. Submit– Your submission will be locked and auto-submitted on the submission deadline in July.


Framework overview

The submission requires evidencing the key indicators of the SGQM framework where the department critically reflects on how it meets each criterion and then illustrates these with evidence. The table below provides examples of criteria in each of the four sections of the framework. Access to the full framework is available on PebblePad upon registration.

If you are part of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) with several schools who would like to go through the process, then please contact us at to arrange a discount. Please note that schools will have to prepare individual submissions, but can collaborate to support each other through the process.


Table of costs

  SGQM costs
6th form and FE colleges £450
Small schools (< 750 students) £450
Medium schools (750 – 1200 students) £565
Large schools (>1200 students) £680


More than just an award…

While we hope that all schools will successfully complete the SGQM and achieve an award to recognise this, it is important to recognise that the process of self-evaluation, development and improvement for your whole department is possibly even more valuable.  The fee that the school pays covers: 

  • access to the workbook which includes the key indicator framework, support, guidance and exemplification of high-quality practice
  • registration at the support webinars 
  • access to our online community where you can network with other teachers who are engaging with the Geography Quality Mark
  • bespoke support and guidance from GA staff throughout the process
  • the assessment and moderation of the quality of geography being taught in your school by our expert team of geography educators
  • a certificate and detailed feedback on your submission so that know where to focus your next steps
  • permission to use the Secondary Geography Quality Mark logo in your work for the three years that you hold the award
  • an invitation to our celebration event, held in the autumn term, which includes the opportunity to network as well as some professional development input


Centre of Excellence status

For all schools applying for the SGQM, Centre of Excellence status is a free additional option which recognises the department’s contribution to quality geography at the highest level. 

There are three possible routes to Centre of Excellence status:

  • Route 1: through disseminating quality practice in geography locally or in a wider context
  • Route 2: through embedding impactful, regular and quality fieldwork experiences in your school.
  • Route 3: through using geography in your school to lead global learning across the curriculum.

For further information about Centre of Excellence status see PebblePad and contact to register.


Map of SGQM schools

To view a larger version of this map, click here. 

Further reading

A letter to your headteacher: used to support Senior Leader meetings

Smith, A. (2016) ‘The Secondary Geography Quality Mark‘, Teaching Geography, 41, 3, p. 126

Woolliscroft, J. (2009) ‘An effective ‘lever of change’, Teaching Geography, 34, 2, pp. 82–3.

Conlan, L. (2020) ‘Teaching geography in the great outdoors‘, Teaching Geography, 45, 2, pp. 65-7.  

Blake, V. (2018) ‘My department’s journey to the SGQM‘, Teaching Geography, 43, 2, pp. 64-5. 

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


Become a member

GA membership provides specialist support and expert advice for geography teaching

Geography Quality Marks

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

Geographical model making competition

Encourage your pupils to get involved and explore their creativity and geographical knowledge by creating a 3D model. Entries close 31 July 2024