OS MasterMap-based GI software leads students to a higher level of achievement

Children at state and independent schools across Britain are learning with the most highly-detailed and up-to-date Ordnance Survey digital maps under a ‘mapping on demand’ agreement.

The challenge

Ordnance Survey maps are named as a mandatory study requirement for geography in the National Curriculum for schools in England and Wales. Extracts are also used for a number of GCSE and A-level examinations. This imposes upon Ordnance Survey a national interest responsibility to make maps accessible for teaching and learning at school.

The solution

The Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) extends an existing map subscription service to include all schools, academies and teacher- training establishments in the country, regardless of their funding status. Local studies, fieldwork and controlled assessments for geography are all being supported by the provision of Ordnance Survey mapping under the PSMA.

Using GIS students can complete a task that used to take three hours within one hour. Their presentation is improved beyond recognition and by focusing on problems and solutions they are able to access higher order thinking that they wouldn’t otherwise have reached. They really understand and remember what they have done.

— Helen Young, Head of Geography, Friary School, Lichfield
Various products are now available to take advantage of OS MasterMap®, the most detailed digital mapping of the UK available. These include Digimap for Schools and AEGIS®.

Gold award-winning Digimap for Schools is available direct from Ordnance Survey. An extensive search gazetteer, it has over 250,000 place names, enabling the user to easily centre maps on any location by using postcode, place name or grid reference.

AEGIS, the popular geographical information system (GIS) software for UK secondary schools, is provided by The Advisory Unit: Computers in Education, which has joined forces with location content platform emapsite, an Ordnance Survey partner. Under the PSMA, schools pay a small annual subscription that enables The Advisory Unit to source Ordnance Survey map orders from emapsite and supply them ready to use on disc in AEGIS.

The datasets comprise of very detailed OS MasterMap mapping, as well as Ordnance Survey’s 1:10 000 Scale Raster, 1:25 000 Scale Colour Raster and 1:50 000 Scale Colour Raster backdrop mapping.

The Advisory Unit developed the AEGIS OS MasterMap module as a flexible, user-friendly software solution for schools. It enables teachers to display accurate, large-scale fieldwork maps for studying land use and smaller-scale mapping for the study of wider areas. The mapping is constructed in layers, including polygons for buildings, with a buildings data table ready to use with pupils’ own field data.

Teachers use AEGIS software to create and display interactive on-screen worksheets. Pupils may import all kinds of information, such as location charts, flow lines, traffic surveys, statistics and census maps.

Helen Young, who teaches geography at Lichfield School, has extensive experience with Ordnance Survey data and has written a textbook on using AEGIS. ‘I can quickly prepare worksheets; for example, for students to note down readings of light, moisture and heat around the school grounds, or for them to record land use information. The students find AEGIS easy and attractive to use, particularly when they can enter data they have collected and turn it automatically into graphical plots and charts.’

Rachel Adams, Head of Geography at Wimbledon High School regularly uses AEGIS and other GIS applications. ‘When Year 10 students visit the north Norfolk coast, they enter the data they collect and within a couple of clicks they have a graphical representation, which enables them to see the relationship between land use and sea defences. They can then predict shoreline erosion and compare their results with real shoreline management plans.’

Year 7 students at Wimbledon High School use GIS to focus on urban development. After collecting data about a town centre, they can identify a specific building, attribute a category of use and produce a colour-coded land-use map. They also compare current maps and historical maps. ‘In conjunction with OS Street View®, which enables them to identify the type of housing stock, they can clearly see patterns of development and land use.’

The benefits

  • Geography pupils at Key Stages 3 and 4 are developing a full range of practical map skills, including the use of symbols, grid references and contours, and an understanding of distance, scale and direction.
  • Such skills support student performance under controlled GCSE assessments relating to and use and patterns of settlement and communication.
  • Teachers can quickly and easily prepare effective lesson worksheets based on Ordnance Survey mapping data.
  • Students can produce maps of an extremely high quality in a third of the time it used to take them manually.
  • GIS technology gives school students tools to investigate personal, community and global issues and the skills they acquire prepare them for the many working roles in which GIS features so prominently.

Products used

1:10 000 Scale Raster

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