Annual Conference 2018

The date for the SAGT Conference this year is Saturday 27th October 2018 and it will be hosted again by Dollar Academy in Clackmannanshire.
We are following the theme of:
‘Tomorrow’s World: the future of our planet’
To register to attend, choose three seminars from the attached list and complete the form on the link below.
I will then send you an invoice with confirmation of your place. 
Please note that there is a discount for members who register before the end of September.…
SAGT Conference Programme 2018
08:00 Minibus pickup from Stirling train station (prior booking required)
08:30 – 09:30 Registration, Publishers and Refreshments
09:30 – 09:40 Presentation of SAGT Publisher’s Awards
09:50 – 10:15 Welcome and Presidential Address
10:20 – 11:00 Keynote Lecture A – Dr Herminone Cockburn
11:00 – 11:20 SAGT Awards for SQA
11:30 – 12:30 Seminar A
12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
14:00 – 14:20 Keynote Lecture B – Jamie Livingstone
14:45 – 15:45 Seminar B
16:00 – 16:30 SAGT AGM
Keynote speakers:
Dr Hermione Cockburn has over 20 years’ experience in science engagement and is currently the Scientific Director at Dynamic Earth, the UK’s only science centre dedicated to the story of our planet. She is a geographer with a PhD in geomorphology and has worked in Africa, Australia and Antarctica researching landscape evolution at the macroscale. For BBC Radio 4 she has presented documentaries on subjects ranging from lead pollution and lasers to an award winning series on bacteria. Her television presenting credits include the BBC series Coast, Rough Science, and Fossil Detectives for which she wrote an accompanying book. She taught Environmental Science for the Open University for ten years and is passionate about engaging diverse audiences with science and, in particular, inspiring people with stories about the Earth.
Jamie Livingstone has been Head of Oxfam Scotland since November 2013. He leads a diverse team covering media relations, public campaigning, policy generation, political advocacy, education, and programmatic projects within Scotland. Jamie joined Oxfam in 2011 as Campaigns and Communications Manager – overseeing campaigns, media and supporter communications in Scotland. He is the former Convenor of the Disasters Emergency Committee in Scotland and is currently a board member of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. Jamie is a former print and broadcast journalist. This includes a five-year period with STV News – including as Political Correspondent. He is a graduate of the University of St Andrews and completed a Bobby Jones Jr Memorial Scholarship to Emory University in Atlanta. Jamie lives in Edinburgh with his wife and two young children.
Hope to see you there
Alastair McConnell
SAGT Conference Convenor

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Annual Conference Registration

Bookings for this year’s SAGT National Conference have now opened.
This year’s conference will take place on Saturday 28th October at Dollar Academy, in Dollar. There is a free minibus service running for delegates who wish to travel by public transport; pick up/drop off from Stirling Train Station.
The event runs from 09:30am until 4:15pm, with registration and access to the venue opening from 8:30am. As ever, the event promises to be an exciting day, with a packed itinerary.
For the conference programme and online booking form visit:

Roger Crofts: Geography undervalued in understanding of world

Improving skills in literacy and numeracy are vitally important components of school education. But it is wrong to assume that these can only be achieved by teaching English and Mathematics respectively. Many other subjects can and do teach these skills using real life examples.

Geography is one of these ­subjects. Articulating orally and in writing one’s understanding of the world is one sure way of increasing literacy. Collecting, analysing and using information about the world increases ­students’ numeracy, and gives them a better grounding as ­citizens and future employees.

But geography is much more than this. Surely we should aspire to our children and ­grandchildren having a greater understanding of their world: what is happening around them, ­analysing the causes and ­assessing solutions?

Through primary and ­secondary education, we should be teaching children to have a better understanding of ­our world’s complexities and ­interactions. For example, ­everyone should be taught about the causes and consequences of flooding, and what can be done to reduce the effects and moderate the causes.
Equally, all students should understand what is the best use of the land and sea for providing food, for giving a home for nature and to understanding the effects of climate change.
In these, and many other ­topics, geography provides ­students with an ability to ­discuss issues impacting on their lives. So why is it that knowledge-based learning is out of fashion and ­subjects are taught by non-specialists? Why should history graduates teach geography and vice versa in secondary 1 to 3 as part of the Broad ­General Education, when allowing them to use their knowledge and enthusiasm for their subject would ­contribute more to pupils’ learning experience and to acquiring key skills? And why are students being restricted in the choice of subjects at National 4 and 5?
There is a built-in assumption that English and Maths are vital, plus a science and a foreign language, so that ­history, geography and other social subjects are left out. But geography covers the sciences, both natural and social, and it teaches literacy and numeracy skills. But, it is undervalued in subject choice.
We now have an ­unsystematic approach to subject choice at the discretion of the education authority or the head teacher. Who benefits? Certainly, not the students or geography.

Let’s ensure our children are learning key skills for their future lives and careers taught by those with enthusiasm and knowledge.

Geography is a key subject for all future citizens, as it opens the whole world to pupils, improves their global view and provides a context for learning numeracy and literacy. Let’s make the most of it, as geography is the subject of our time.

Roger Crofts is chair of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and patron of the ­Scottish Association of ­Geography Teachers.


SAGT CPD Day – Saturday 20th May

Registration for this event has now opened. 
A copy of the registration form for the event can be downloaded below and emailed to or alternatively, you can register for the event by completing the form below (which when the submit button is clicked is sent to 

Flier and Application form
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    SAGT ‘LAFI’ CPD DAY Registration Form 

    Name *


    Email *

    Phone Number *

    School (if applicable) *

    SAGT Region *

Worldwise Quiz 2017

The finals of the SAGT Worldwise Quiz took place today at the James Young High, Livingston.

The teams present included: Holyrood Secondary, Larbert High, St Margaret’s School, Belmont Academy, Stewart’s Melville College, Perth Academy, Robert Gordons College, Inverness Royal Academy and Hawick High. 

Congratulations to all the teams that took part across the country, in the local heats and especially the final. A thank you to all staff for tutoring and driving the teams around the country.All teams were a credit to their schools and to themselves.

A massive THANK YOU to Iain Aitken for all his organising, compiling the quizzes and organising prizes. It was massive undertaking. 

And the winners were………
Stewart’s Melville College, Edinburgh. Congratulations to the winning team!

Elaine Batty
SAGT President

Background to recent media reports

Immediately after the exam May 2016 there were many comments being made online about the Higher exam and we received a few emails.  At SAGT committee in August there was much discussion around the table about this year’s exams. In the past there have been numerous discussions between members and at committee about the new qualifications and complaints about communication from the SQA. There was also a fair bit of talk, from some teachers, about marking procedures etc and the content of the higher.
At the same time, the education committee of RSGS had been discussing the loss of Geography in the curriculum, poor communication between the teachers and the SQA and the changes in Geography. There was also an RSGS/ SAGT task group which had been set up to discuss such issues. It was felt by the committee that it would be best to continue with the dialogue between SQA and also with the government as ‘going to the press’ was not a good idea and would not serve any of our members or our subject.
At this point we would like to say that complaints have always been about the SQA as a body/excessive paperwork / lack of clarity / the new qualifications etc and not individuals involved in the process.
As a result of these discussions it was decided that a survey about the Higher would be sent out to all members. We were led to believe, from the SQA, that we could not feedback our thoughts on the Higher individually as in the past, as this system was being stopped i.e. there appeared to be no teacher/learner survey available.
In online discussions, it was clear that members were getting very heated about SAGT not ‘doing anything’. We tried to let people know, via minutes and ESGNs that discussion with the SQA was taking place.
This survey was put out and analysed by 3 members of committee and returns were received from 350 Geography teachers (members and non-members). This was presented at conference to the members who were present. It was decided to bring it up in the afternoon session so that there were no pupils present. The feedback was also started off with a statement that this was not a comment on the work of markers or setters but a reflection of how many members felt about the exam. Quotes were taken from the members who took part.
It was decided the results of this survey would be sent to the SQA and to the RSGS. It was also decided that we would send this to the government’s review of SQA. The date for these responses was only a few days after the SAGT conference so it was copied and pasted from the power point results of the survey. In hindsight perhaps more care could have been taken over it as we subsequently found out that it had been published online by the government.
It was our intention to share the results of the survey with all SAGT members after the SQA had a chance to respond. However, the BBC’s reporter had read the submission that was made to the government’s review. It was decided that we would not respond to requests for an interview from the BBC as we felt that a report may upset markers and setters, as well as our pupils. We can only apologise if this was the case as the news report only really focussed on 1 or 2 lines from that survey.
SQA response
On the 18th of November Liz Crisp (past president) and I met with Angela Baird (Qualification manager), Lesley Joyce (Head of service) and Joan Highton. (Geography Subject Implementation manager). This was a very cordial and productive meeting.
The following points were made:
1.     SQA were very surprised to hear our submission as they had only heard from one network group about concerns. We stated that this was partly because the usual feedback form was no longer available.
2.     There was a problem with the reduction of the number of marks available having been reduced to 60 from the previous 200.It was agreed that this was not enough to adequately assess the course. They were looking at increasing the total number of marks for the written exam in the current review from 2018.
3.     There was a great deal of difficulty getting people to mark the exams and it was only at the last minute that they managed to do so. It was agreed that this was partly due to the system of marking online. As a result, next year’s Higher marking will be done on paper. The point was made that “marking from image” does give SQA more data re breakdown of marks for each question across whole cohort etc.
4.     In response to criticism that pupils had performed lower than expected, we were told that statistics showed that the number of A passes matched perfectly the estimates that teachers sent.  A – C passes were only 3 % less than estimates.
5.     It was agreed that there was a problem with the physical geography being under-assessed in the exam. This will be looked at for the review of the Higher, which was already due to take place, before our complaints. The Higher review planned to take place next session will now occur the following year once National 5 amendments are in place. This is due to the government decision re removal of unit assessments in their current format.
6.     There is a very rigorous checking of markers’ work and the SQA were satisfied that there were no inconsistencies.
7.     All questions and marking schemes were put through a rigorous checking procedure and all questions followed SQA guidelines.
8.     18 people had been involved in the standardisation process to make it rigorous.
9.     Changes had already been planned after a review of both the National and Higher qualifications. John Swinney had set that deadline as June 2019.
10. There will be a high level statement made in January about the National exam and documents will be available in April. The plan is for the new information to be contained in one single document under different headings rather than in many different documents
11. The national rating for Geography is low and shows that pupils are performing as expected.
12. The difficulty of accessing the webinars was discussed .Angela was unaware of those problems and said that teachers should email her to let her know of problems. As a result of one email the number of people on the webinar was increased. Please continue to email if there are problems/ queries.
13. The importance of teachers reading the Principal Verifier’s report and the Subject report was emphasised.
14. Unfortunately, SQA IT does not enable them to just mail info directly to geographers – updates, webinar dates etc. are highlighted in SQA Centre news sent to SQA co-ordinators weekly. It is possible for individual teachers to subscribe too and therefore get the information directly. SAGT try to highlight any new updates etc. on twitter, Facebook and on our webpage as well
It would be appreciated that anyone who is having problems accessing information ,who has concerns or questions  regarding the qualifications should email either Angela Baird (qualifications manager ) :    or Joan Highton ( subject implementation manager):    Or perhaps to email me, see below.
Elaine Batty,  SAGT President   2015 – 17. (  
30th November, 2016.

Background to Media Reports Statement – Nov 2016
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Calendar and sqa results

Calendars : Many thanks to Alan Gall for producing this year’s calendar and posting it to all members. His work on this calendar, on the theme of Cities , is very much appreciated. Hopefully all members will now have received them .If you have not received the calendar, please email me on
SQA exams. Hopefully members are a lot happier with this year’s exams and results. If there is anything that you would like to draw to the attention of SQA ,please either email or . Positive comments, I am sure, would also be appreciated !

Elaine Batty