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‘Young Geographer of the Year’ is a national competition run by the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) to encourage pupils to engage with geographical issues. Each year, the competition receives entries from thousands of pupils from hundreds of schools. This year’s competition was an opportunity for students to explore how their lives have been shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic by producing entries on the theme, ‘Remapping our lives’.

Steve Brace, the Society’s Head of Education and Outdoor Learning said: “We were extremely impressed by the overwhelming quality and volume of entries to this year’s Competition, with thousands of pupils taking part from across the UK and beyond. We were looking for – and found – original entries showing how the Pandemic had led to the young peoples’ lives being ‘remapped’, and we’re sure that our winners have great geographical futures ahead of them.”

Professor Joe Smith, Director of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), said: “Geography plays a crucial role in our understanding of place and space. Given the extraordinary obstacles faced by pupils again this year, we’re delighted to see so many submissions cleverly reflect the adaptations made by pupils to their lives on both local and global scales. They’ve also demonstrated how their lives are interconnected and influenced by these locations and revealed how both human and physical geographical processes interact with them. The standard was exceptionally high, and the work was produced in a thoughtful and knowledgeable way. Congratulations to all who took part.”

Young Geographer of the Year recognises the best entries across four categories: Key Stage 2 (pupils aged 9-11); Key Stage 3 (11-14); Key Stage 4 or GCSE (14-16); and Key Stage 5 or A Level (16-18). Pupils in the first three categories were asked to submit an annotated diagram or poster, while A Level pupils were asked to create an Esri UK StoryMap containing a maximum of 1,500 words.

CEO of Esri UK, Stuart Bonthrone, who judged the Key Stage 5 category said: “I was very impressed by the use of digital maps and GIS in Katie’s StoryMap. It really helped me to understand how her life had been impacted through lockdown. Her use of maps, images and embedded audio made it easy to connect with her story. In addition, she has made great use of survey123 to gather and present the results of her questionnaire. Excellent work and a worthy winner. Well done.”

The Rex Walford Award, which runs alongside Young Geographer of the Year, recognises teachers currently completing their teacher training or who have just started their careers. They were asked to produce an innovative and engaging scheme of work on the same theme, covering at least three lessons.

The winning and highly commended pupils have been notified of their awards and have each been presented with a certificate.

The category winners are:

  • 9-11 years: Aarav Gupta

  • 11-14 years: Faatimah Ali

  • 14-16 years: Kate James

  • 16-18 years: Katie O’Shea

  • Rex Walford Award: Paul Greenhalgh

The Young Geographer of the Year competition is run by the Society in conjunction with Geographical magazine and is kindly supported by Esri UK, Ordnance Survey, Philip’s Atlases and Cotswold Outdoors.



Notes to editors:

  • For further media enquiries, images and interview requests, please contact Lucy Preston, the Society’s Press Officer, at or +44 (0)77 1478 3126.

  • Image captions:

    • Key Stage 2 Winner - Aarav Gupta

    • Key Stage 3 Winner - Faatimah Ali

    • Key Stage 4 Winner - Kate James

    • Key Stage 5 Winner - Katie O’Shea

    • Rex Walford Award Winner - Paul Greenhalgh

  • The Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’.

  • Young Geographer of the Year is run by The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) and Geographical Magazine. The competition began in 2000 and has become a regular feature on many schools' calendars. The competition is open to young geographers throughout the UK and Europe under the age of 19 years. The prizes were kindly sponsored by Esri UK, Ordnance Survey, Philip’s and Cotswold Outdoor.

  • Winning and highly commended entries to Young Geographer of the Year 2021 can be viewed at

A full table of winners is displayed below:


(9-11 years)


Aarav Gupta

King's College Junior School

Highly Commended  

Amy Wang

The Study Prep

Highly Commended  

Grace Seward

Stafford Grammar School

Highly Commended  

Millie Nabarro

Thomas's Clapham






(11-14 years)


Faatimah Ali

Lancaster Girls' Grammar School

Highly Commended  

Kiera Price

Samuel Ryder Academy

Highly Commended  

Michaela Yates

Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy

Highly Commended  

Alexandra Draper

St John's College






(14-16 years)


Kate James

Lady Eleanor Holles School

Highly Commended     

Sophia Nelson

Weydon School

Highly Commended

Jessica Claridge-Law     

Cowes Enterprise College

Highly Commended

Claudia Caisley

Haberdashers' Aske's School for Girls






(16-18 years)


Katie O’Shea

Bilborough College

Highly Commended

Fiona Bostock 

Cowbridge Comprehensive School

Highly Commended

Hollie Corfield

Durham Sixth Form Centre

Highly Commended

Issy Reid 

The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School





Rex Walford Award     


Paul Greenhalgh

Berkhamsted Boys’ School