Controlled Assessments

We have just finished completing our controlled assessment in geography to mixed reviews. Have other schools felt the same?

As a department we have a very successful record of doing well across all types of learners and is something as teachers we are proud of. Like any job/role this has taking a lot of time and effort to put in place. But I recently felt from completing the controlled assessment that it is stretching the higher ability students and maybe not so helpful or beneficial for the less able students. Whereas before you could push and motivate a C/D student to gain a C, now with the examination high level control they get a D. The higher ability students though have really enjoyed the expereince. With a busy stressful year, many of our Year 11 students have not enjoyed their experience due to the following factors:

  • Students are less than enthused with more exams
  • Increase in pressure/stress on Year 11
  • Teacher/Student free time is lost when time is lost due to trips/absences
  • They have to complete certain sections in exam conditions
  • Completion of the CAT is across several weeks when other committments happen
  • They can’t complete the work in the time periods set

I would like to hear other schools’ experiences of the controlled assessment. Is it working in your centre? I am sure with time the experience will be more positive, but it does not feel like the experience we were first told about.

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GIS for Beginners

With the new Controlled Assessments for GCSE it has highlighted that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) must be used in the students work. This has made it necessary that every member of a Geography Department has an awareness of GIS and that students need to develop their skills from an early age. With this in mind the Geographical Association has put together a series of two-day training courses aimed at geography teachers who are new to GIS. 

A geographic information system (GIS) integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information. GIS allows us to view, understand, question, interpret, and visualize data in many ways that reveal relationships, patterns, and trends in the form of maps, globes, reports, and charts. A GIS helps you answer questions and solve problems by looking at your data in a way that is quickly understood and easily shared.

The following information is from the Geographical Association website which outlines The GIS for Beginners course;

  • Day one: After a brief overview of GIS, you will develop basic GIS skills through hands-on practical exercises and case studies. This will help you to create a GIS resource for your school. Through a myGIS practical activity you will be introduced to the main functions of DigitalWorlds. You will also look at GIS in the curriculum/exam specifications.
  • Back in the classroom: Over the next few weeks you will put your GIS skills into practice using your ESRI(UK) software.
  • Day two: An opportunity for feedback and reflection before progressing on to more advanced GIS skills.

Course aims and outcomes

  • To outline the difference between visualisation and GIS and develop both basic and more advanced skills using DigitalWorlds software
  • To increase familiarity with DigitalWorlds software, and the way that it can be used in geographical enquiries and Controlled Assessment tasks
  • To allow time for school-based reflection and development of GIS in the curriculum
  • To introduce delegates to the online community of GIS users and additional sources of ongoing support
  • To provide ideas for using GIS at KS3, and to supplement Controlled Assessment tasks at GCSE
  • To provide examples of places to find further data and mapping, and ongoing support for your professional development
  • To gain confidence with DigitalWorlds software, to be able to use it with students, and develop enquiry sequences which are engaging and relevant to individual school contexts
  • To become familiar with some more advanced GIS skills

This sounds a great opportunity for Geography Departments across the country to develop and improve the GIS that is currently being taught giving the students the best opportunities on developing the necessary skills to gain their top grades. The Geographical Association are brilliant at delivering these course. If you are interested or want to know more please follow the link here. I know we will be booking one of these courses at Gillingham!