Sir Michael Palin

Sir Michael Palin has joined Steve Backshall in supporting The Henley College’s Earth Science department.

When asked if he would support their Geography A level, Sir Michael replied immediately, with characteristic enthusiasm, saying:

“Geography is more than a subject - it’s an adventure! Knowing about geography is essential if you want to understand what’s happening to the planet.”

The Henley College epitomises the practical and adventurous aspects of Geography, so admired by Sir Michael, with the teaching team taking every opportunity for learning outside the classroom.

Subject lead, Sandra Wickens, said

“Geography is the study of the Earth, its atmosphere and Man’s interaction with it. Of course it’s exciting! It’s a hands-on subject and is not something which should be learned in the classroom alone. Going to Spittalfields and seeing inner-city issues first-hand puts the students learning into context. Actually getting out there and using simple equipment to collect data brings home to the students that Geography is a practical earth science. We give our students complete free rein their independent fieldwork project; they’ve done everything from human geography in New York, to air pollution studies in Reading to glacial erratic surveys.”

The department is extremely proud of its overseas adventures. Students have carried out fieldwork in the Atlas Mountains. They have gone to Iceland where they bathed in hot springs, studied geysers, watched the Northern Lights and learned about geothermal energy. They have visited the Bay of Naples, studying lava flows and climbing four volcanoes in five days. The team is currently in the throes of planning a trip to the Azores.

The Geography team is known for its passion and enthusiasm and has an unusually intrepid attitude to teaching. They have taught hydrology by getting their students to wade thigh-deep in the River Pang to collect real data which is then analysed in class. Local field trips and data-collection exercises are an important part of the course.

Emma Cook said “we are particularly proud of our students, many of whom stay in touch long after the have left Henley. It’s lovely to hear how studying Geography at Henley has changed their lives and has spurred them on to pursue an often adventurous career in the geographical industry”.

The students’ adventures in geography:

Fiona Naismith said “I’ve been accepted to do my masters in Migration at the University of Amsterdam! Now to celebrate by climbing Machu Picchu in the morning!”

James Moody got a first class Hons from Exeter and is now doing PhD at Sussex studying Geographies of Political Violence in Africa.

He emailed the Henley team and said “this photo was taken in the Qadisha Valley in Lebanon. Between Bcharreh and the Cedars of God”.

Holly Brown messaged the team saying:

“Hi Sandra, I'm sending you this message because on Wednesday I'm flying to New Delhi as part of the UKIERI Study India Programme. Also, the programme involves a trip to Dharavi – somewhere I’ve wanted to visit ever since I learnt about it with Emma (which I referenced a lot in my application). So; I wanted to say thanks to both of you for making me such an enthusiastic geographer, as it definitely helped my application”.

Freya Ruparel, gained a place to study at the University of Cambridge after achieving A*A B in Geography, Philosophy and Environmental Science and will go on to study a BSC (Hons) in Geography. Freya has just returned from Hong Kong after competing in an International Geography Olympiad where Team GB came an impressive 3rd out of 60 countries.

Freya said: "I'm so pleased to have got in to a great university. I have worked really hard with the help of my teachers and am really looking forward to pursuing my interests in the future, particularly the environment, climate change and human geography. I've really enjoyed my time at The Henley College."

Tom Hubbard, who achieved As in Geography and Geology and who is now studying Geology at Imperial College London, said “Sandra was an incredibly fun and inspiring teacher, especially on fieldwork. The independent fieldwork project was one of the best things I have ever done and has been incredibly useful at university. I love fieldwork and it is one of the areas in which I feel most confident in an extremely academic environment”.

Tom Hubbard, who achieved As in Geography and Geology and who is now studying Geology at Imperial College London, said

“Sandra was an incredibly fun and inspiring teacher, especially on fieldwork. The independent fieldwork project was one of the best things I have ever done and has been incredibly useful at university. I love fieldwork and it is one of the areas in which I feel most confident in an extremely academic environment”.


You may also be interested in these articles:

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page