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Putting geography on the map in local schools – University of Reading

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Putting geography on the map in local schools

Release Date 10 April 2006

the EarthThe University of Reading's Department of Geography has been selected as one of only two university departments in the country to take part in a major £2 million government programme to boost geography in schools. Reading's geography students (along with colleagues at Queen Mary, University of London) acted as Undergraduate Geography Ambassadors in the run-up to Easter and went into Reading and Maidenhead schools, alongside graduate geographers from the workplace, to enthuse youngsters about the potential of continuing to study geography as part of their education. The project is supported online by prominent geography ambassadors such as Nick Crane from BBC's 'Coast' and Nick Middleton from Channel 4's 'Surviving Extremes'. The Ambassadors Scheme is part of a wider Action Plan for Geography – organised by the Department for Education & Skills, along with the Geographical Association, the Royal Geographical Society and the Institute for British Geographers – which will try to ensure that geography maintains its popularity at all levels of the education system, against a background of curriculum changes and other pressures on school timetables. Dr Kevin White, Head of Reading's Department of Geography, said: "We are very proud and excited to be part of this new project. The Ambassador schemes have already proved popular in science and technology, and we are doing all we can to help geography teachers further enthuse their pupils. "The fact that this University has been chosen to pilot this project is an indication of the excellent reputation of Reading's geography students. Ten of our students acted as ambassadors at 10 schools in the Reading and Maidenhead areas (1), and their feedback will no doubt prove to be critical in shaping the scheme as it is rolled out nationally." By the end of the two years' investment by the DfES, it is hoped that there will be at least 500 ambassadors and at least 500 schools involved in the Ambassadors Scheme. Along with the ambassadors, the new Action Plan will see the development of a national website for geography teachers, bringing together for the first time an online bank of all existing and new resources to support teaching. There will also be fieldwork and leadership training, Quality Marks for schools and chartered geography status for teachers and additional resources for teachers of the Key Stage 3 curriculum. These resources will help to tackle relevant contemporary issues, from Globalisation and Climate Change through to the 2012 Olympics. Announcing the programme, Schools Minister Andrew Adonis said: "Geography matters to everyone. It is the gateway to understanding the rich variety of landscapes and different cultures around the world. "We want pupils to enjoy geography and to develop their analytical skills by exploring and questioning the world them." End Notes for editors 1.The 10 Reading and Maidenhead schools taking part in the Ambassadors Scheme are: The Abbey School Reading School Highdown School Edgbarrow School Langley Grammar School Eton College Charters School Desborough School Newlands Girls School Claires Court School 2. For the original DfES press release, see: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/DisplayPN.cgi?pn_id=2006_0050 3. Media contacts: Dr Kevin White, Head of Geography, University of Reading T: 0118 378 7752 E: k.h.white@rdg.ac.uk Craig Hillsley, Press Officer, University of Reading T: 0118 378 7388 E: c.hillsley@rdg.ac.uk Department for Education & Skills T: 0870 000 2288 E: info@dfes.gsi.gov.uk Judith Mansell, Royal Geographical Society wih IBG T: 0207 591 3053 E: j.mansell@rgs.org

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