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Noticeboard - November

Biodiversity Month


Welcome to the November noticeboard! This month is inspired by David Attenborough's 'Extinction' programme. Below are lots of resources including a SOW to support pupil learning in this area. We recommend using any of these resources alongside 'Extinction' to support pupil learning.

Tweet us @ECGeogNetwork

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Visit the Drive


View the Flipboard

Our latest platform for the Early Careers Geography Network is Flipboard where we collate relevant Geography news stories. 

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Mr Butcher Geography


The Non-Specialist


I hear ‘non-specialist’ often referred to as someone who has been asked to ‘pick up a few lessons’ in a subject that isn’t their ‘specialism’. Many Geography departments will have teachers of History, RS and PE who chip in but what if the ‘specialist’ is actually a ‘non specialist’? I refer to myself, a full time teacher of Geography with a degree in Sport.


I was unable to continue my love for both Sport and Geography at university, so I took the Sport route with an eye to teaching PE and hopefully some Geography on the side. The number of male PE jobs available was minimal so I recalibrated my compass and completed my PGCE in secondary Geography, later securing a job as a Geography ‘specialist’.


PGCE’s are great for learning about behaviour management, SEN/D and how to engage with difficult parents. On subject specialist away days we would learn about the national curriculum, implementing fieldwork in the school grounds and the new specifications but very little content was taught. I never expected my PGCE to teach me that though, as everyone on my course had a degree in Geography, Geology or Environmental Science. It was down to me to learn the ‘stuff’ that my students needed to know. PGCE’s have developed slightly in the few years since I trained, with Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses available to develop subject knowledge during the course, unfortunately for me, this was also unavailable. 


Whilst teaching a predominately KS3 heavy timetable as a trainee, I was able to learn alongside the students, staying a couple of weeks ahead whilst creating resources. To do this I grabbed a couple of textbooks, read and absorbed as much as possible. The main benefit was the ‘stuff’ was fresh in my memory and anything I didn’t understand was probably the same as what students wouldn’t, so I was able to highlight some of the misconceptions early, before they became a classroom issue. As I moved from trainee to NQT, along came GCSE and A Level to my timetable so I had to change tact.


Twitter was a great resource as an NQT, experienced staff would share resources, blogs and news articles. I saved what I thought was necessary and regularly spent time reading. Having up to date examples was great to share in lessons as it showed my students what we were learning was really happening out there, encouraging discussion and questions. Today I save most articles to Flipboard, which I now share with my classes to develop their subject knowledge further.


My HoD as and NQT and RQT was a great believer in pedagogy and as a department we really focused on the ‘how’ of teaching. We would read a chapter per fortnight and reflect in meetings, divvied up resource creation between us to reflect our interests and specialisms which enabled me to learn from those I worked closely with, those with a Geographical related degree. 


During lockdown, with a little more time I have rediscovered my love for reading. From Prisoners of Geography and Divided to Factfulness and Adventures in the Anthropocene, I feel my subject knowledge in some areas is as advanced as it has ever been. There has been much discussion on Twitter recently about teaching beyond the specification and having read these kind of books, I can really see how this is now possible.


Having branded myself as a ‘non-specialist’ at the start of this piece, I would now class myself as a ‘developing-specialist’. I’ve taught my lessons in KS3, 4 and 5 a few times through and now I’m really beginning to bulk them out with rich Geography. There is much less reliance on a PowerPoint and worksheets full of information and much more reliance on what I know, my subject knowledge. This is something that comes with experience and confidence and all teachers develop over time, or so I’ve come to believe. I don’t think I will ever class myself as a ‘subject specialist’ because with a subject like Geography, everything is changing, all of the time. So I’m okay with being a ‘non-specialist’, it inspires me to keep up to date with current affairs, to develop my pedagogical practice and build my subject knowledge, one article and book at a time.

By Carl Butcher - @MrButcherGeog


Top 5 - Supporting a ‘non-specialist’

  1. Twitter. Always ask for help if you need it, there is always someone who can help.

  2. Books. Whether its pedagogical or content, there is always something new to learn.

  3. Documentaries. Watching them counts as CPD and is good to discuss with students too.

  4. Specialists. Those in your department with more experience usually have something of use, don’t reinvent the wheel every time.

  5. Away Days. Get out to CPD events such as ResearchEd, they are jam packed full of great speakers and a brilliant way to network.

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Welcome to Biodiversity Month...

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Many of you may have seen Sir David Attenborough's BBC Show 'Extinction: The Facts' which was released in September. Team #ECGeogNetwork felt motivated and inspired by the programme and decided to celebrate our 6th month anniversary with a special themed website event. All of the resources below are themed to support teacher/pupil learning on all things biodiversity and the issues we face moving forward. We hope it helps!

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Team #ECGeogNetwork Extinction SOW


Click on the pictures to get access to each lesson folder on our Google Drive.


INFOGRAPHIC POSTERS + research folder

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Arctic Landscape


Want to learn more about Climate Change? How about becoming a 'UN Climate Change Accredited Teacher'. Work your way through the modules to boost your knowledge and receive certificates at the end.

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To find out more about successful projects supporting ecosystem today check out the Pristine Seas Project.




podcast app

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Geography all the way is an app you can use to listen to relevant podcasts. Perfect for GCSE & ALEVEL too!

More TEDTALK Links

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conservation websites for rhinos and pangolins



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