Hundreds of geography teachers gathered recently for the Geographical Association’s annual conference. Alan Kinder summarises the key issues and debates

Last month, nearly 800 delegates from 23 countries came together at the Geographical Association’s (GA) annual conference to share their experiences of and ideas about education. Some challenging themes emerged.

Conference delegates expressed relief at the passing of national curriculum level descriptors. Over the past 20 years they had witnessed a transformation in their use from broad descriptive paragraphs, applied as professional “best fit” judgement at the end of key stage 3, to atomised statements used to assess individual pieces of work – a role for which they were never intended.

However, moving to an era of assessment beyond levels is proving problematic for teachers. Subjects like geography benefit from a “spiral” approach, which means revisiting complex ideas, such as sustainability, in order to build up knowledge and understanding progressively.

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