King’s Ely teacher becomes President of the Geographical Association

Posted: 14th September 2021

Alan Parkinson, who is Head of Geography at King’s Ely Junior, was Vice President of the GA last year, and became 2021-22 President on September 1st.

Alan, who lives in Norfolk and who has been teaching at King’s Ely for eight years, previously worked for the GA as Secondary Curriculum Development Leader for three years, and also served on the Secondary Phase Committee for fourteen years. He has contributed the Webwatch column to the GA Magazine for a similar amount of time, and written articles for all the GA’s journals.

Speaking about his Presidency, Alan said: “I’ve always had this feeling that I might end up as President one day, although it’s rare for a teacher to do the job while actively teaching too – the last time that happened was in 2004. I feel enormously proud to be representing our members around the world and influencing some of the work the Association does to advocate for Geography to policy makers and communicate the vital importance of the subject in explaining our world – particularly given the summer of extreme weather we have experienced. The final strand of our work is empowering teachers to become curriculum makers and improve their practice. Of the 106 Presidents to date since 1893, I am the first to have previously worked for the GA as well, which gives me a great insight into the tremendous efforts made by the GA’s staff in Sheffield to support members in the way that they do. I’m excited to have already been invited to events in numerous countries, and to be able to visit our GA Branches around the country in the coming year.”

Alan has taught Geography in schools for almost thirty years and has written and edited numerous textbooks and children’s books, including his latest book, ‘Why Study Geography?’. He is a Chartered Geographer, is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and has won numerous awards for his writing, innovative teaching, and support of other colleagues. These include the RSGS’s Joy Tivy Education Medal in 2013, which has only been awarded nine times: one fellow awardee is the late education guru, Sir Ken Robinson.

Along with Daniel Raven Ellison, Alan was the co-founder of Mission:Explore. He is a Primary Geography Champion and Consultant to the GA. He writes many blogs including LivingGeography, which has over 10,000 posts. Recent work includes material for BBC Bitesize, Census 2021 and consultancy in South Africa. In 2019, Alan was also one of the first teachers in the UK to become a United Nations accredited ‘Climate Change Teacher’.

The GA is the leading subject association for teachers of Geography. As a registered charity, it aims to further geographical knowledge and understanding through education with its current mission of ‘connecting teachers and inspiring quality Geography’.

The Association supports high-quality Geography education by enabling teachers of Geography to share ideas and learn from one another. It was founded in 1893 at Oxford University. The annual conference attracts around 800 delegates, and Alan is currently planning his Presidential Conference at the University of Surrey, which has the theme of ‘Everyday Geographies’.

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