Disaster! Schools’ Geography Conference 2013
4th November 2013

Over 325 GCSE pupils from ten different local schools came to this year’s King Edward’s Geography Conference, which was held before half term.

The title of this year’s conference was ‘Disaster!’ and its theme was looking at the human impact of environmental disasters. The keynote speaker was Professor Bill McGuire, who opened the conference with a talk entitled: ‘Waking the Giant: how a changing climate triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes’, following the name as his latest book on climate change. Professor McGuire is a well know academic in the science of climate change and has appeared in many radio and TV programmes and a consultant for the lauded BBC Horizon films, Supervolcanoes and Megatsunami – Wave of Destruction.  It was a fascinating talk and one that will live long in the memory for those geography students in Charter Hall.

There were 8 other speakers at the Conference, including Clive Jones MBE, who is the Chair of the UK’s Disasters Emergency Committee, which co-ordinates fund raising efforts for major disasters.

What made the conference particularly interesting was the variety of topics covered, including a talk by Old Witleian, Will Crawford, who took his audience through the story of how he set up his own engineering business which developed ‘Concrete Canvas’. The innovation enables concrete buildings to be put up in a very short space of time in disaster and war-zones, providing a safe, sanitised space.

Other speakers included John Preston, who spoke about the role of social media in reporting disasters and Varyl Thorndycraft, who spoke about how floods can dramatically change the landscape we live in.

The conference ran all day and there was a lot of information to take in, but pupils were excellent, asking some intelligent questions during what would have been an extremely helpful day’s learning for their GCSE Geography.

For further information contact Matthew Willis on 01428 686720 or email


Notes to Editor:


King Edward’s School

King Edward’s School in Witley, Surrey, is an independent co-educational boarding and day school for boys and girls from ages 11 to 18. The School was founded in 1553 to provide housing and education for destitute children in London. To this day the School still provides bursary support and boarding accommodation for around a quarter of its students and high levels of pastoral care are at the heart of its ethos. However, the School has moved on to become one of the top independent schools in the country, with a reputation for excellence in many areas, including its International Baccalaureate 6th Form curriculum.

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