Introduction to GIS for Teachers

For many years, the geomatics group at Newcastle University has delivered CPD courses for teachers. The courses have focussed on both surveying and GIS at various times and have been delivered both in Newcastle and elsewhere including Surrey, Oxfordshire and Inverness-shire. With the rise of GIS in GCSE and A-Level curriculums our Introduction to GIS for Teachers course has become increasingly popular. We have also found a great ally in Paul Baker from the Geographical Association who has helped to promote our courses and identify schools around the country who can host us.


Our most recent course ran on Friday 03 June at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire with teachers from Ampleforth, Sheffield High School, Ashville College, Hymers College and Priesthorpe School.

In the course we covered:

  • An introduction to GIS
  • Exploring geohazards including downloading and plotting data directly from the US Geological Survey website
  • Using the GB Fieldtrip app (in the stunning college and abbey grounds!)
    Analysing Indices of Deprivation data using GIS
  • A plenary where we used some provocative questions to help the delegates to reflect on the role of geography in their school and to consider cross-curricular potential of GIS

One of the questions we are always asked at these events is why do we do them? And why are they free? Our answer is in three parts:

  1. GIS is a subject we all enjoy, see great potential in, and we want to help spread the word.
  2. As a University, we should be good neighbours and ensure that we provide support to schools and teachers.
  3. The reality is that our two degree courses, BSc Geographic Information Science and BSc Surveying and Mapping Science continue to attract low numbers of students and we hope that these courses will raise awareness of them in schools.

It was another great day and hopefully a few more teachers are now a little more confident and excited about using GIS in their teaching.

Finally, many thanks to Ceri Dent (Head of Geography at Ampleforth College) for hosting us. The computer cluster, facilities, catering and setting were all fantastic. Thanks, Ceri!


Author: Neil

Software Engineer/ Research Assistant Urban Observatory

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