Goodbye 2010, and hello 2011

Wow! A new term and a new year, 2011, bring it on! 

For those of you who have not read my blog, my name is Mike Tidd. I am the Head of Geography at Gillingham School in Dorset. I have been a teacher for most of my working life and I immensely enjoy my role as a teacher. I have a deep interest in education developments and I am motivated to help my fellow practitioners and students to achieve their potential.

Over the past two weeks I have had a chance to reflect back on a very eventful year. As I get older I seem to find the years do get faster and I sometimes find it hard to pack everything in I would like to. 2010 was my first year as a blogger on the blogosphere. I started one year ago as a new writer in a cyber world I was not always sure about. Creating my own web site has given me the chance to improve my IT skills and look at the wealth of knowledge out there. This has helped improve my knowledge, understanding and my teaching.

I started my second year at Gillingham School in Dorset in September as Head of Geography. I have been lucky enough to work with a very dedicated department whose enthusiasm remains high. They have been a great bunch of geographers to work with (yes, all seven of you!). Our results last summer were exceptional and is a reflection of the hard work of the geography teachers and the students efforts – well done to everyone!

2010 was also a year of field trips. Fieldtrips, in my opinion, are an integral part of geography. We are very lucky at Gillingham School that we have a Senior Management Team that also see the benefits of field trips. The year 7’s went to Stourhead as part of the Lavlantic Cup Challenge developing their map skills through orienteering. The Year 8’s had the opportunity to go the Brecon Beacons for some glacial geography and GIS fieldwork techniques. The year 9’s went to Marwell Zoo for sustainable and ecological learning. The year 11’s went to Lyme Regis for coastal erosion, deposition and management as part of their controlled assessment. And finally, year 12 went to Barcelona looking at urban and rural rebranding and extreme weather. Lots of planning but it’s what makes geography so special!

Now that 2010 is gone, what will 2011 bring Mike Tidd?

Controlled Assessments


With a new curriculum and syllabus I will be taking much interest in the results of our controlled assessments. I have written previously about my thoughts and feelings towards this type of assessment. From doing our first controlled assessment last term we have learnt many things we would better next time to improve the student’s experience. With other subject areas doing controlled assessments there has been a huge pressure on the students. They do seem to be on an endless cycle of exams over four years if they continue into A’Level. The jury, in my opinion, is still out on the changes that have been made with the syllabus changes. 


This year my Department will be creating and developing a trial controlled assessment for Year 9. We feel the students need to develop the skills we require at KS4 and beyond. A GCSE style field trip would offer the students the skills needed and the experience of completing a GCSE piece of work.  As a geography teacher I am very much in favor of field trips. Firstly, they enhance the student’s experience fo the subject by reinforcing their learning and understanding within the classroom. Secondly, it further develops the students as young adults. Fieldtrips do offer students an experience where they can develop their individual and team work skills. 

Key Stage 4 Changes 

Now that we are going into the second year of the new GCSE, we shall continue to tweak and make changes to our curriculum. Now that we are completing our second year of the GCSE curriculum we have a much better understanding the requirements of the exam and what our students need to achieve to gain their grades.

Development and whole scale overhaul of KS3

With the new curriculum at Key Stage 4 and 5, Key Stage 3 must be a priority in the up coming year. We do seem to be on a continuous cycle of rewriting, but we must not forget the building blocks of a successful education. Key Stage 3 can be sometimes be forgotten about in this world of examinations at KS4 and 5. The young students at KS3 need the skills and knowledge to help them in their later geography education. 

Mentoring New Teachers


I would like to see the department become a centre for new geography teachers to learn their craft. I feel we have a wide variety of teachers and expertise that would help any new teacher. This is an area I would really like to start occurring this year at some point.

Personally, I would like to continue to develop as a geography teacher. I know my strengths and weaknesses and appreciate I am far from the finished article. Teaching is a career where you can always continue to develop as a practitioner. I will continue to write about my experiences along with my thoughts and feelings on the education developments that occur as the year goes on.

Geography is the subject of the 21st century and I hope to hear from you all at some point during the year.