Commenting on this sustained growth in popularity, the Society’s director, Dr Rita Gardner, said: ‘It is very heartening to see more students choosing to study geography and the continued popularity of the subject in schools. This reflects positively on the work of teachers to promote the value of geography in their classrooms and the fact that the subject plays an essential role in teaching students about the world’s people, places and environments, and the processes that bring about changes, locally and globally. It is such a vital subject in our world today.’
However, this positive uptake of the subject has led to geography being identified as a teacher shortage subject by the government. As part of the government’s response to this, the Society was funded by the Department for Education to run a new Geography Teacher Training Scholarship programme. The first year of the programme, which started in September 2016, saw the Society award 111 scholarships. Each scholarship provides an outstanding trainee geography teacher with an enhanced package of financial and professional support including training events, conferences, materials and resources that complement their training, in addition to Fellowship of the Society and membership of the Geographical Association.
One scholarship recipient, Amy Connor, said: ‘As a Scholar with the Society I feel connected to an invaluable community that I might not have access to otherwise. The additional support, resources and training has given me an opportunity to stand out in my geography department. So far I have been able to rely on the Society and my fellow Scholars who inspire and encourage me to be the best geographer and teacher I can be.’
The Society has been deeply impressed with the quality of the first cohort of Scholars and is looking forward to working with them throughout their current training year and as they develop their careers in the classroom.
This was published in the January 2018 edition of Geographical magazine.