Bedales’ Paul Turner scoops national teaching award

Posted on 06th June 2017

Head of Geography at Bedales School, Paul Turner, has been awarded the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) Award for ‘excellence in geography education at the secondary level’ as part of a series of awards that recognise extraordinary achievement in geographical research, fieldwork and teaching across the UK.

The RGS is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830 for ‘the advancement of geographical science’, the society presents awards annually to individuals who have made outstanding achievements.

Sponsored by Ordnance Survey, Chief Executive Officer Nigel Clifford explained that the award recognises Paul’s “talented and authentic commitment to geography… which produces great enthusiasm in his students”. He went on to emphasise the “creative overhaul Paul took to the Bedales Assessed Course (BAC) in Geography which reaps amazing rewards with students”.

The Geography BAC is an alternative to GCSEs for Years 10 and 11 students. The course is a response to excessively prescriptive GCSEs, and students explore topics as varied as gender equality and oceans as well as questions such as ‘Why does poverty still exist?’. In contrast to terminal exams, students are assessed through 10 varied forms of assessment including a debate, creating an infographic and extended writing.

Previously, Paul was awarded an Innovative Geography Teaching Grant from the RGS to work in collaboration with Dr Adam Dennett from the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. The project developed a series of lessons targeted towards sixth form students, developing their ICT skills whilst exploring the 2011 Census data.

Paul recently made his teaching resources available for a charitable donation to Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation charity which works with communities to protect oceans, waves, beaches and marine life. Teachers as far afield as Thailand, Dubai and Malta currently subscribe to the resources.

At the end of June, Bedales will host to an innovative Geography Festival exploring the question ‘Can geography help us avert catastrophe?’ In the context of Brexit and the Trump presidency, sixth form students from across the south will come together to hear from The Equality Trust and leading academics.

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