Former colleague and NQT Amber Moore has recently started her own blog on the adventures of being a Geography NQT. The new blog is entitled geogonthespot! Amber recently returned to Gillingham School, after completing her PGCE at Plymouth University, to observe some KS5 lessons and help out on our Stourhead Orienteering Year 7 fieldtrip.

Amber will be completing her NQT year at Avon Valley School in Wiltshire. You can view her blog here or follow her on twitter @AmberKatja

Good luck with your NQT year Amber!


Well Done OB!


Well done OB!

My good friend, Ollie Bray, has achieved his life long dream of becoming a Head Teacher at Kingussie School in Scotland. I have known Ollie since our university days in Plymouth and he was always driven to succeed. He is one of the UK’s leading educators on new technologies within the classroom. His blog,, is always high on my list of blogs to read. It is a fantastic achievement for all the hard work he has been doing over the last twelve years. I remember sitting in a pub in Plymouth, back in 1999, asking him about his future plans. Teaching was firmly on the agenda after his year working in the Cairngorms as an outdoor instructor. From that conversation I started to seriously consider teaching as a future career choice (its all your fault Ollie!)

I am really looking forward to hearing about Ollie’s adventures and futures successes! Well done Ollie – it’s a fantastic achievement!

TeachMeet Virgin


Teachmeet Virgin

As promised, I am keeping you up-to-date with the going ons in my life as a teacher. Back in November, Ollie Bray, one time fellow geographer at Plymouth University, sent out a tweet to me about a TeachMeet taking place down on the Isle of Portland in Dorset, TeachMeet Dorset. I had heard of TeachMeet but have never had the pleasure or nerves (!) to attend.

TeachMeet Virgin

Well, after a few minutes of deliberating I decided if I was going to go to any TeachMeet my first one had to be within the county I teach. I signed up on the TeachMeet website and bravely decided I would present too. I had a couple of weeks to work out what I was going to present to other teachers from Dorset. I contacted the organiser of the TeachMeet Dorset, Gary Spracklen of Isle of Portland Aldridge Community Academy (IPACA) and South West Teacher of the Year, to volunteer my services as a speaker.

After a night of thinking I came up with the idea of 25 Ideas in 7 Minutes. A fool hardy challenge but all I could feel was excitement! TeachMeet was something I have wanted to be involved in for a long time. I couldn’t wait to get there. I persuaded my good friend Nick Hargreaves of Radipole Primary School to attend so I at least had one member of the audience I would know!

So what is a TeachMeet? TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. These events are often organised to coincide with other educational events like the Scottish Learning Festival and the British Educational Technology and Training Show BETT.

Teachmmeet 1

Participants volunteer (via the TeachMeet website) to demonstrate good practice they’ve delivered over the past year, or discuss a product that enhances classroom practice. TeachMeet events are open to all and do not charge an entry fee.

I really like the idea that you are limited to only speaking for seven minutes which is a great way to keep things moving and interesting.

TeachMeet Dorset was a brilliant event. I had no reason to be nervous or worried. Everyone was lovely and wanted to develop as educators. It was great to hear lots of expert advice and ideas shared in a lovely informal environment. Gary Spraklen was an energetic speaker who did a fantastic task of organising the event who made everyone welcome.

Will I go to another TeachMeet? Yes! TeachMeets are an amzing opportunity to develop and share ideas. Later this year I shall be going to TeachMeet Pompey on 6th March. This event is organised by Dave Rogers, a brillaint geography teacher down in Portsmouth. I am very excited about attending my second TeachMeet so soon!

Would I organise a TeachMeet? Yes! Myself and Gary Spracklen have started talking about bringing TeachMeet to North Dorset to my school – a seed has been planted and I’m really looking forward to seeing it at Gillingham School!

TeachMeet Virgin

5 Mountains and a Wedding

The summer has been a well needed break to rejuvenate the batteries for September. My summer has mainly consisted of climbing mountains. The objective was to climb the three highest peaks in Britain; Ben Nevis (1,344 metres above sea level) in Scotland, Scafell Pike (978 metres)  in England and Snowdon (1,085 metres) in Wales. Everything went to plan and the mountain climbs were an unbelievable experience even with the added rain! After climbing all three peaks two more mountains were added down in South Wales, Pen y Fan (the highest mountain in Southern Britain at 886 metres) and Cribyn (795 metres). From all five peaks I have witnessed some brilliant views and some amazing landscapes as you can see from the photographs. Maybe next time I shall attempt the Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours! Anyone else up for it?

During all of this I also attended a very good friends wedding day in Glasgow. It was a very traditional Scottish ceremony and it was great to catch up with so many friends from my days at Plymouth University. Congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Simpson!

Plymouth University e-Learning Conference 8-9th April

My old university is holding it’s 5th e-Learning Conference. This year they will examine the theme of e-learning in a time of change, and will challenge notions of traditional boundaries, learning spaces and roles. The conference will focus on new practices, new technologies, new environments and new learning. The conference is taking place on Thursday 8th and friday 9th April.

The Plymouth e-Learning Conference is jointly organised by the Faculty of Education and EDaLT (Educational Development and Learning Technologies) at the University of Plymouth.

At the conference two keynote speakers will be attending; Josie Fraser and Donald Clark. Josie Fraser is well known in the field of social media and learning, and writes regularly about her research on her blog SocialTech. Josie spreads her time and energy across a wide variety of social media/networking spaces, where she can be found experimenting with all manner of emerging technologies. At the ALT-C 2008 Conference, she received the prestigious Learning Technologist of the Year award and continues to be at the forefront of learning technology development.

Donald Clark was CEO and one of the original founders of Epic Group plc, which established itself as the leading company in the UK e-learning market. He is now a board member of Ufi (LearnDirect), LINE Communications, Caspian Learning, Brighton Festival, and a school governor. He has produced over 40 papers, dozens of book reviews and many articles on e-learning. Donald has also won many awards for the design and implementation of e-learning, notably the ‘Outstanding Achievement in e-learning Award’.

It looks like a cracking conference and I look forward to hearing the thoughts and feelings that come out of it.

How Earth Made Us

Great news for fans of Professor Iain Stewart’s television programmes as he is back!  The press release for the new series is as follows; ‘following on from Earth: The Power Of The Planet, geologist and presenter Professor Iain Stewart returns to BBC Two to continue the epic story of the relationship between human civilisation and Earth.’

How Earth Made Us explores how geology, geography and climate have influenced and continue to shape human history. Each episode examines a different force, including the effects of deep earth, wind, fire and water. The series concludes with a look at how the human race has become a geological force in its own right.’

‘Travelling to some of the most iconic locations on the planet, Iain Stewart discovers how the river Nile caused Egypt to dominate the ancient world, how the break up of a super-continent 200 million years ago shaped an energy revolution, and how wind changed the history of China and Australia.’

I am a big fan of his previous programmes for the BBC. Iain Stewart is a Lecturer in Geology in the School of Earth, Ocean and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth (my old University). The new series starts on Tuesday 19th January at 21.00. Happy viewing!

Blogging on the Blogosphere

Since I started writing my blog last Monday I have received many positive comments from colleagues, friends, and fellow teachers across the world. I would like to thank all of you for reading my blog and I hope it is useful and of interest. The early success of my blog has taken me by surprise and I hope it continues!

Alan Parkinson of the Geographical Association left a great comment on my blog. Alan has his own blog on all aspects geography which is updated daily. I have only started reading this blog this week and thoroughly recommend it to all geography teachers. The blog is current, up to date and very interesting. He has some fantastic resources and ideas on his site. I have also found out he is very good friends with Ollie Bray

My very good friend Ollie Bray wrote a lovely piece about my blog this week. Ollie and I have been friends for many years since studying geography together at the University of Plymouth. I have been a big fan of Ollie’s blog ever since he started writing it. Ollie’s blog is extremely informative and up to date on the educational developments and new technologies that come out. Ollie is the National Adviser for Learning and Technology Futures at Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS). He is a brilliant innovative teacher with fantastic ideas.

Ollie and myself have had many adventures over the years – all of which are true!