"The ability to understand and interpret data is an essential feature of life in the 21st century: vital for the economy, for our society and for us as individuals. The ubiquity of statistics makes it vital that citizens, scientists and policy makers are fluent with numbers. Data analysis is revolutionising both how we see the world and how we interact with it. (Count Us In, British Academy, 2015)"
Recent changes in curricula in schools and at university, along with a recognised skills gap, have brought renewed emphasis on students being trained in data skills (the collection, analysis and presentation of data) in geography at GCSE, A Level and in undergraduate courses. The shift is presenting new challenges for many school teachers, particularly those with little prior experience of such skills. In response to these changes and challenges, the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) is leading a two year programme Data Skills in Geography (2015-17). The programme is kindly supported by funding from the Nuffield Foundation. Our lead expert is Professor Richard Harris, School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol.
This integrated programme of work will focus on schools, while drawing upon expertise in higher education (including Q-Steps centres) and good practice in the schools sector. It aims to enhance and support teachers and students in their:
understanding of data skills;
confidence in their use and application, including integration of the skills into schemes of work; and
knowledge of their value to further study and employment.
The programme will also raise awareness in both higher education and in schools about the current changes in demands for data skills within Geography GCSE, A Level and the Geography QAA benchmark. We aim to upskill the teachers of today and to enhance the abilities of the teachers of tomorrow.
The outputs will include:
10 high-quality online resource modules to support the teaching of data skills embedded in GCSE and A Level; including specific support for the A Level ‘individual investigation’ through which students will collect, analyse and draw conclusions from a range of data sources.
A programme of continuing professional development (CPD) to provide face to face practical training (full day and twilight) across England and Wales, also supported by online materials, for c1,000 geography teachers and those entering Initial Teacher Training.
Liaison with exam boards, Initial Teacher Education departments, Teaching Schools, academy chains and other relevant organisations and individuals to share good practice, maximise the reach and impact of the project, and to help provide sustainability for this work into the future.
Workshops and seminars that aim to share expertise across disciplines and to share our learning on the project and what has and has not worked well.
We are keen to involve learned societies and subject associations, so as to help inform and support, where possible, teaching of data skills across the wider social sciences and beyond.
This project aims to make a step change in the way that teachers, and young people, understand, use and value data skills, and to do this through the medium of geography as both a social and a physical science. More about the project (PDF)
Steve Brace (Head of Education and Outdoor Learning)
Dr. Catherine Souch (Head of Research and Higher Education)
Dr. Rita Gardner CBE (Director)
We have established new networks and strengthened existing ones. To help with this, we have established the Data Champions scheme.
The Data Champions group is made up of teachers who are data enthusiasts with different levels of experience; the scheme is about championing ideas and information to a wider audience. Please make contact with your nearest Data Champion to collaborate with others. The map below provides contact details. If there is no one representing your area and you are interested in becoming a Data Champion, please contact us for further details.
Newsletter 1 (PDF)