Each year the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Geographical run a national competition for pupils aged between nine and 18, which encourages students to engage with a specific geographical topic.
‘Place’ is one of the most important terms used by geographers, allowing an exploration of the people, processes and connections that make a particular space meaningful. Pupils considered how their favourite place is shaped by local, national and global processes, and what these geographical processes – both physical and human – are. They also considered the people and connections that make this place meaningful to them, as well as its social, cultural, political and environmental geography.
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 and GCSE pupils submitted posters, while A Level students were asked to write a 1,500-word essay, which could include illustrations, maps and graphs. This year, the Society received more than 1,600 entries from more than 250 schools, with thousands of additional pupils taking part in in-school competitions.
Commenting on the competition, Nicky Wheeler, subject leader of geography at Kendrick School, said: ‘The 2017 competition provided a wonderful opportunity for students to engage with a favourite place and explore what made it special or important to them. The annual competition allows geography students to really challenge themselves outside of the classroom to work independently, as well as raising the profile of the subject within the wider community.’
Amber Tate, geography teacher at St Helen and St Katharine, also commented: ‘The Young Geographer of the Year competition encourages our students to “think like geographers”. The openness of the question allowed the students to research their own areas of interest in a geographical context. Apart from that, it is a fun and engaging project which fosters enthusiasm for the subject across all Key Stages.’
In November, the winning and highly commended pupils in each age category, along with their families and geography teachers, were invited to a special ceremony at the Society to receive their awards. They were joined by a special guest, Alastair Humphreys, who talked about the geography of his favourite places. Steve Brace, Head of Education and Outdoor Learning at the Society, said: ‘Our winners chose locations near and far – from the Isles of Scilly to Mount Fuji, and from Braithwaite to the Galápagos Islands. In all of their entries, pupils demonstrated high levels of geographical understanding in order to reveal the diverse geographies of their favourite places.’
The Society also announced the 2017 winner of the Rex Walford Award for a new or student teacher at the ceremony. Rhianne Quigley, from Wales High School, was judged to have produced the best set of teaching resources linked to the competition question. All of the award winning entries can be viewed at www.rgs.org/YGOTY2017 and details of the 2018 Young Geographer of the Year competition will be announced later in spring.
This was published in the January 2018 edition of Geographical magazine.