News story

Minister maps out digital future of geography lessons

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new mapping service to help make geography lessons more fun has been launched at a London school by Baroness Hanham and Ordnance Survey.

Digimap for Schools will give pupils across the country easy access to detailed digital mapping. The new service will include access to the best Ordnance Survey’s mapping available for Great Britain. It has 450 million features including building outlines, pavement edges, walls and fences.

Ofsted have previously highlighted geography as being the worst taught lesson in the curriculum and complained that children found it boring. The Ordnance Survey believe digital maps can help bring the subject to life and assist teachers to nurture and foster learning about the environment and location in which we live.

Baroness Hanham said:

“It’s important for schoolchildren to learn how to tell where places in this country are. ‘Digimap for Schools’ will provide detailed geographical information for pupils. I’m very pleased to launch this scheme, which will give all children easy access to Ordnance Survey maps through the latest technology in interactive digital mapping.”

Baroness Hanham joined year-7 geography pupils at Graveney School in Wandsworth to launch the new online service today (11 November 2010) with the Ordnance Survey Chief Executive Dr Vanessa Lawrence.

Baroness Hanham in a geography lesson
Baroness Hanham and Vanessa Lawrence at the Digimap launch

For the last 9 years the Ordnance Survey has provided free maps to 11-year-olds to encourage interest in geography. Digimap will now lead this scheme into the future following feedback that pupils like to be able to create their own maps using computers. Digimap will means schools can access and print all the maps needed for teaching geography from primary through to A Level examinations.

Vanessa Lawrence CB, Director General and Chief Executive of Ordnance Survey said:

“I am delighted that we are able to offer such a wide range of Ordnance Survey data available to pupils of all ages and we are keen to encourage teachers to use mapping data to make geography relevant and interesting to pupils.

“Our free maps for 11-year-olds has been incredibly successful with over six million OS Explorer Maps being sent out in the last 9 years. However, when we look at how young people engage with technology, it seems very appropriate to provide mapping digitally and in a relevant way that they will continue to use as they grow and develop into adulthood.”

‘Digimap for Schools’ is a collaborative venture between EDINA - a UK national academic centre based at the University of Edinburgh; JISC Collections for Schools - a not-for-profit initiative which enables schools across the UK to access a range of high quality online subscription resources at discounts of up to 80%; and Ordnance Survey.

Further information on ‘Digimap for Schools’ is available on the Ordnance Survey website. In addition MapZone® is a totally free, bright and lively website produced by Ordnance Survey that aims to teach children, between 7 and 16 years, mapping skills in a fun way.

More photographs of the launch are available from the DCLG Flickr channel