Our house is on fire

Our house is on fire - Paul Turner

By Paul Turner, Head of Geography

Our house is on fire and Extinction Rebellion is the fire alarm warning us of climate and ecological breakdown. On 24 April, I gave a Jaw about the inspiring and emotional experience of taking my family to participate in the week of International Rebellion.

Across 80 countries, citizens took part in non-violent direct action, which in London saw the arrest of over 1000 people and the blocking of five sites. It was a challenge to explain to a three-year-old why people were being carried away and arrested and who the ‘good guys’ were. Waterloo Bridge was turned into a garden bridge covered in plants and trees and the experience as a whole was deeply uplifting and reinvigorating.

Over the days I bumped into many students, parents and Old Bedalians who also felt they’d reached a point where they could no longer stand by and not act against government inaction on climate change.

Extinction Rebellion has three demands: the Government must a) tell the truth by declaring a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change; b) act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025; and c) create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens’ Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

To tell the truth, in coming weeks Bedales will host a screening of David Attenborough’s Climate Change – The Facts. On 15 May we will be visited by a prominent climate lawyer, and on 22 May we’re holding a whole school symposium to debate the school’s position on climate change. Please do email me (pturner@bedales.org.uk) if you’d like to get involved.

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Bedales Geography teacher awarded prestigious fellowship

DCIM100GOPRO

In recognition of the innovative Geography Bedales Assessed Course, Bedales’ Head of Geography Paul Turner has been awarded membership of a prestigious Curriculum Planning Working Group through the Fawcett Fellowship offered jointly by the UCL Department of Geography and the Institute of Education.

The working group will meet on a termly basis and look to link theory with practice at different levels of planning. Fawcett Fellows are committed to the value of contemporary geographical knowledge and a dynamic curriculum with a view to stimulating pupils’ interest in the subject and capacity for thinking geographically.

As a Fawcett Fellow, Paul will contribute to classroom-based research in order to evaluate how curricular aims are translated into pupils’ capabilities in geography. Overall, the aim of the Fellowship is to develop empirical research into the geography curriculum, thus filling a gap in the literature and knowledge base of many practitioners. The group will seek to better understand how to plan for progression of pupils’ understanding of knowledge, skills and thinking in geography.

The group will explore questions such as: which geographical knowledge and skills are most valuable for children and how should these be sequenced in a curriculum? And, what are the learning steps that pupils need to go through to move from novice to proficient geographer?