Sir knows where's where in the world!

GEOGRAPHY teacher Andy Leeder is celebrating today after winning a national award for his work.The deputy head of Copleston High School in Ipswich was delighted to learn he had been nominated for, and won, the Royal Geographical Society's Ordnance Survey Award for teaching excellence.

By Tracey Sparling

GEOGRAPHY teacher Andy Leeder is celebrating today after winning a national award for his work.

The deputy head of Copleston High School in Ipswich was delighted to learn he had been nominated for, and won, the Royal Geographical Society's Ordnance Survey Award for teaching excellence.

The award came after he made a presentation about his work, to the society.

Mr Leeder is one of many winners from different walks of life but all sharing a passion for geography, who will attend a ceremony in London on June 10.

He said: "Geography in schools is on the decline because the Government is trying to introduce lots more choices for 15 and 16 year olds, like business studies, media studies and GCSE PE.

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"Traditional subjects have been hit quite hard, but Copleston is slightly unusual in that geography is compulsory to the age of 16.

"The Society is worried about the drop in numbers of students studying the subject at GCSE, A-level and university level, so they are very interested in schools which teach it successfully.

"Our exam results are very good, a little bit higher than the good English, maths and science grades."

He said issues like global warming were taught, but with an emphasis on their relevance to the local area and youngsters' lives, and added: "It would be wrong for a 16-year-old to leave school unaware of the issues facing the world. If we want young people to go to the ballot box and vote, which they are not doing at the moment, we need to have them studying the issues in schools.

"Our generation has failed dismally to protect the planet earth and it will be up to their great grandchildren to pick up the pieces."

Topics taught recently have included the debate over the country's transport, the effect of out-of-town shopping centres, the future of Walton on the Naze cliffs and Ipswich Wet Dock.

Geography is studied by the nearly 300 pupils in every year group at the high school, plus more sixth formers.

Mr Leeder said the success was down to good teaching and enthusiastic pupils over the years – some who had gone on to make a career based on their knowledge of geography.

He will receive a medal and letters after his name.

Headteacher Laurie Robinson congratulated Mr Leeder on the rare award, and said: "It is the first time I have heard of a colleague winning this, in my 20 years of teaching."