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Why Does Antarctica Matter?
Data skills in geography
Rediscovering London's geography
Excellence Awards

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Young Geographer of the Year and Rex Walford Award

Young Geographer of the Year 2015

Why does Antarctica matter?

The question for this year’s Young Geographer of the Year competition coincided with the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance expedition, which aimed to complete the first crossing of Antarctica. Despite failing in his original plans and being stranded on pack ice for over a year, Shackleton and his men returned safely and the expedition is recognised as one of the most remarkable feats of leadership and endeavour.

This year’s competition was an opportunity for students to explore why Antarctica still matters today. This may be for a number of reasons, spanning:

  • Antarctica's world-leading science
  • The continent's unique biodiversity and landscapes
  • As a location which still inspires people with awe and wonder of the natural world
  • Antarctica's unique status as the only continent in the world without countries
  • Antarctica's governance by the Antarctic Treaty which promotes science, peaceful purposes, sets aside territorial claims and prevents military activity

In support of the competition, we asked a range of experts who work on issues surrounding Antarctica to tell us why Antarctica matters to them. The videos can be seen on our #WhyDoesAntarcticaMatter? page.

Discovering Antarctica, developed in partnership with the British Antarctic Survey and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, features a wealth of information about the distant, frozen wilderness of Antarctica.

The competition has four categories: Key Stage 2 (students aged 9-11), Key Stage 3 (students aged 11-14), Key Stage 4 or GCSE (students aged 14-16) and Key Stage 5 or A Level (students aged 16-18).

The 2015 winners are:

Key Stage 2 (students aged 9-11)

Winner: Catherine James, The Lady Eleanor Holles School | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 3 (students aged 11-14)

Winner: Molly Hughes, Balcarras School | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 4 or GCSE (students aged 14-16)

Winner: Katie Banks, Millais School | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 5 or A Level (students aged 16-18)

Winner: Daniel Vaughan, Colyton Grammar School | View entry (PDF)

Highly Commended entries:

Rex Walford Award 2015 

The Rex Walford Award is for trainees or teachers who have just started their careers, including students enrolled on a PGCE, Teach First and Schools Direct alongside NQTs and colleagues at a similar stage in their careers.

Linked to the Young Geographer of the Year competition, this years’ Rex Walford Award asked entrants to produce a short scheme of work, covering at least three lessons that focused on the question ‘Why does Antarctica matter?’

The winner of the 2015 Rex Walford Award is Fiona Tremelling, a teacher at Windsor Girls' School.

Young Geographer of the Year 2014 winners

'How can geography help you?' was the question asked of school students from across the UK and abroad as part of last year's competition. In demonstrating the relevance of geography to their own everyday lives, the winning entries considered the significance of both human and physical geography at a variety of levels, highlighting how geography can improve our understanding of the world's people, places and environments. The role of the discipline in preparing students for life beyond school was also explored by several of the entries.

The competition's category winners, as well as three highly commended entries in each category, were invited to a special ceremony at the Society to receive their awards from writer, geographer and broadcaster Nick Crane. The Rex Walford Award was also presented at the same time. Steve Brace, Head of Education and Outdoor Learning, said: 'In answering the question 'How can geography help you?' our winners showed real geographical ability. Their high quality entries demonstrated the relevance of geography to many aspects of their lives, be it at the local or global scale.'

The 2014 winners were:

Key Stage 2 (students aged 9-11)

Winner: Beth Green, St Paulinus Primary Catholic Voluntary Academy | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 3 (students aged 11-14)

Winner: Ben Waller, Cardinal Newman Catholic School | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 4 or GCSE (students aged 14-16)

Winner: Victoria Synek Herd, Colyton Grammar School | View entry (JPG)

Highly Commended entries:

Key Stage 5 or A Level (students aged 16-18)

Winner: Sophie Catherine Topp, St Helen and St Katharine

Highly Commended entries:

Rex Walford Award 2014

The Society's Rex Walford Award supports PGCE students and newly qualified teachers at the start of their careers. Reflecting the late Rex Walford's passion for training new geography teachers who can inspire their pupils in their subject, it is awarded for the best set of teaching resources, scheme of work or lesson plans developed on the same theme as the Young Geographer of the Year competition.

The winner of the 2014 Rex Walford Award was Becki Quigley, a recently qualified teacher at the McAuley Catholic Voluntary Academy in Doncaster. Her innovative scheme of work encouraged her students to think about the ways geography can help their lives; from keeping up with the news and examining the world's major problems, to helping their school become more environmentally friendly.

Kindly supported by:

Cotswold Outdoor Ordnance Survey Philips

Philip’s World Photography Competition in association with RGS-IBG

It is amazing how much a place can mean to us, be it a favourite country, the local park, or even your back garden. Sometimes, all it takes is a photograph to transport us back to those treasured locations or inspire us to travel to a new destination.

Philip’s and the RGS-IBG searched for the next top photographer to capture a snapshot on the theme of ‘my favourite place’.


Phoebe Roberts-Shephard, 17yrs, Windsor Girls' School

I took this image at Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland. Although I have only visited this particular country and location once, I was stunned by the natural beauty of the area.  As a keen photographer, I found Gullfoss a perfect place to photograph especially due to the rain storm just before I took this photo which resulted in the spectacular rainbow in the foreground. I found Gullfoss to be an extremely peaceful and beautiful place, and that is why I have chosen it as my favourite place.

Runner up

Sarina Saini, 16yrs, Windsor Girls' School

The dearest place to me is near my home; the Windsor and Eton riverside. The beautiful landscape with the Eton Bridge lounging in the distance and the calm waters create a magnificently tranquil atmosphere. The mute swans I think make the river truly magical, they are nostalgic in the sense that it reminds me of the fairy tale stories told to me when I was little. I go there to read sometimes because it is usually quiet by the bank and the aesthetics of all the animals living among one another in serenity is a remarkable sight to relax by. Thanks for your time.

Please click here for full terms and conditions. If you have any queries, please email philipsphotocompetition@octopusbooks.co.uk.

David W.Smith Memorial Prize 2015 supported by Routledge Publishers: Essay Competition 

The Developing Areas Research Group of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) annual essay competition in memory of David W. Smith. David W Smith, who also published under the name of David Drakakis Smith, was an outstanding scholar committed to researching on Third World cities. He died in 1999. A2 level students in England and Wales and Advanced Higher students in Scotland are invited to write an essay of up to 1500 words on the following title:
Discuss the challenges faced by cities in the developing world in their efforts to become sustainable.
Essay prize: £100 in book vouchers from Routledge publishers.
We have had over 30 essays from 15 schools of all types.
The winner of the 2015 DWS prize is Jack Rogers from Eton School. 

Two highly commended essays,
Imogen Robinson at The Royal High School, Bath
Lauren Dawe from Mount Kelly, Tavistock

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