Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Brambletye Geography Photograph Competition

The vew from the privvy at our camping area at the foot of Mount Arkle
(Leavers' Scotland trip 2013)
This summer I am inviting all Brambletye pupils who will be in Years 1 to 8 next year to enter into a photo competition. The photographs for each year group must have a geographical theme.

The competition is going to be judged by Professor Iain Stewart, MBE and the best three in each category are giong to be made into our 2014 Calendar.

To find out more, visit the entry page on the school website.

CE Fieldtrip Next Term

Year 8 Fieldwork 2013


As part of Common Entrance, pupils are expected to carry out a piece of extended fieldwork This year will be different and the pupils will do their fieldwork as part of a residential course over a weekend in the Autumn term. There will still be resources available on the Geography Pages for students who wish to carry out an extra fieldwork investigation over the summer holidays.

The pupils will carry out two or three investigations whilst we are away. Each evening we will collate data and write a skeleton outline for each project. The children will then chose one of the investigations and their final write-up will be completed in lessons when we get back to school. An equipment list will be circulated before the beginning of the autumn term.


Fieldwork is an important part of Geography and getting the chance to get out of the classroom and measure real things in the real world really helps children to understand the subject better. The investigations that we will do will support and enhance the material covered in lessons and, most importantly be practical and great fun!

For CE candidates this write-up will account for 20% of their final Geography CE score whilst for scholars, some schools ask for the write-up whilst others include questions about their fieldwork in the paper.


We will be going to Juniper Hall, a Field Studies Centre in the North Downs (see map). It has been recommended by other prep school Heads of Geography and the Geographical Association.


We will be going from Friday 20th to Monday 22nd September 2013. We will be leaving school on the Friday afternoon and returning the following Monday afternoon.

How Much?

The cost will be £225 per child and this will cover all …
  • transport,
  • accommodation, 
  • food (which I have heard is very good),
  • insurance / risk assessment,
  • equipment,
  • centre staff/instructors,

Any further questions, please contact Mr Miller ( )

Monday, 24 June 2013

Y8 Trip to Scotland

Last week we took our leavers away for a week in northern Scotland. This was more of an outwardbound trip but the landscape was astounding ...

The Ridgeway Centre is just about as far north as one can get ...
The Ridgeway centre has an amazing setting next to a sea loch.
The view from the crags overlooking the centre

The local beach ...
The pivvy installed at our camping area at the base of Mount Arkle
(in the background) which we climbed the following day.

The view from the privvy ...

The view from the top of Arkle ...

Hows that for glaciated scenery?

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Fractal Geography

A fractal form from the Mandlebrot Set
Fractals are geometric shapes that have self-similarity. In other words, the closer you look the more detail you see and that detail looks similar at any resolution.

Geography is the study of patterns, generally spatial, and we as geographers look for the processes that lead to these patterns. Then, when the processes are identified they can be extrapolated out upon the same location to predict what would happen, or applied to a different location to see if the same patterns emerge. If variations of the pattern occur at different places, then other processes must be at work and so the geographer delves deeper to find out what is happening.

Our world is a complicated place made up of a complex web of interdependent elements that act upon each other in a plethora of different ways in a multitude of different places creating diverse landscapes, climates and ecosystems. All of this is happening simultaneously at a variety of scales too, ranging from the global right down to the microscopic. Geographers need to be aware if the interconnectedness of all of these systems and scales if they are to understand how the world really works: in short, they need to know everything about everything to do with our planet if they are ever to claim to be the 'perfect geographer'. This is yet to happen and anyone who says that they do understand everything is probably being somewhat economical with the truth!

Due to the complex nature of its subject content, there are a plethora of disciplines that come under the geographical umbrella. Geographers tend to zoom in more on specific types of patterns or particular environments: urban geography, climatology, biogeography, geology, etc. Although the content of the particular geographical sphere may vary dramatically, the basic concept remains the same: patterns and processes; places and spaces.
When we first teach Geography at a primary level we look at big patterns and simple processes which can explain their presence using a couple of 'perfect' examples. But as the pupils go forward on to sixth form and degree level, they soon realise that there are no perfect examples. Their world goes from clear cut black and white to a whole spectrum of greys. Students should not accept knowledge as fact but keep on asking questions. I teach my Y7s and Y8s that they should start to question the knowledge that they are being given now in my lessons and if they are told, for example, "warm air rises", they should ask 'why?'. This takes them into the world of physics, but the pure sciences have always been consider a tool for geographers to apply more usefully in the real world.

Further on up the academic ladder the postgraduate students zoom in even further on a particular part of a particular pattern and the myriad of processes at work to create it.

In effect geography as an academic subject has a fractal nature. A bit like the Mandelbrot set, the closer you zoom in, the more detail you uncover and the more there is to see.

Just a thought ...

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Worst floods in Europe for 500 years?

Sign above resaurant and hotel in Passau, Bavaria, on 3 June 2013
"The water is swallowing the ground
floors of many buildings"

Central Europe is experiencing some of the worst flooding in recorded history. The suddenness of the floods caught people off-guard in this area which has had dramatic floods in the recent past: most noticeably 1997 and 2002.



The German town of Passau has been the worst effected. It is situated on the confluence of the river Inn and the Danube.
Central Europe flood map
Source: BBC News


The rising river levels began to cause concern early on Monday morning (03/06/13) and by Monday night many rivers had burst their banks and emergency services were in action across the area.



The flood has been caused by unusually high rainfall in the region: some newspapers were quoting "2 months' rain in just two days". The rainfall was very heavy and fell too fast to infiltrate into the ground and so the majority ran across the surface as overland flow or run-off. This meant that there was a sudden and dramatic rise in river levels: more than the drainage basin could cope with.


What has happened ... so far?

There have been mainly primary effects so far but longer term secondary effects will come in to play over the coming days and weeks.
Evacuation from Passau in Germany

Remember ...

Primary Effects are those that happen immediately such as buildings being inundated and people and property being swept away.
Secondary Effects are longer term effects such as interruptions to transport and communications as well as the long term cost of repairing the damage to property and the local economy.


  • Two people have died and several are missing in the west of the country
  • One of these deaths was a man who was swept away whilst trying to clear a landslide near Salzburg.
  • Over 300 people evacuated from their homes in Salzburg.
  • The army has been called in to work alongside the emergency services in Salzburg and the Tyrol region to clear landslides and make the roads passable.
  • Parts of the Pingzau region have been declared a Disaster Area.


  • Water levels in Passau are the deepest since those recorded in 1501.
  • Evacuations have taken place in Saxony while Bavaria is forecast more heavy rain.
  • In Germany, the army said it had sent 1,760 soldiers to southern and eastern areas to help local authorities reinforce flood defences.
  • A large area of Eilenburg north-east of Leipzig was evacuated, reports said, with 7,000 people being taken to emergency shelters.
  • An emergency taskforce has been set up by the federal government, and Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to visit affected areas on Tuesday.

Czech Republic

  • Seven people have died and Prague is on high alert. Troops have been called in to erect flood defences


  • The head of Hungary's National Disaster Authority, Gyorgy Bakondi, said 400 people were working on flood defences in the capital, Budapest, where he said the level of the Danube might reach or even exceed the height seen in 2002.

Find out More ...