Mashups OpenLayers

The Education Atlas

This is the second in a series detailing the projects I have worked on at UCL in the last academic year.

This is a mashup, powered by OpenLayers, and using network data from OpenStreetMap (OSM) to provide a “contextual window” on top of choropleths (colour-region maps) representing various educational attributes. Both the choropleths and the OSM maps were created using Mapnik. Data from the NPEMap project is used to provide geocoding (locating from postcodes). Schools from the ShowUsABetterWay competition are available as a simple point-based vector layer.

This project has been through various iterations before ending up as a (sort-of) finished product. An earlier version was briefly demoed at the GISRUK 2009 conference in April at Durham. This was an “all-singing, all-dancing” mashup, which wowed the judges at the conference (it was entered in, and won, the Mashup Challenge competition) with its many layers and features, but was probably too complicated for the intended end use.

The functionality has been split into three different mashups – the first, the choropleths, form the Education Atlas. The school catchment contours are in a separate mashup, School Catchments, which I’ll talk about in a future post. The detailed metrics about each individual school are in a third application.

The choropleths mainly relate to academic attainment and geodemographic background (for GCSE pupils) and A-Level subject choice. Some interesting patterns emerge, for example French is particularly popular in Kent (funny that…) and Geography is more popular in the rural north of England than in the cities – as shown below. The demographic maps show a characteristic pattern of city poverty/underachievement compared with rural areas.


The resulting slimmed-down application is available at, however it is only soft-launched, as the data is quite old, and there are some noticeable gaps in coverage, particularly in Manchester and Hampshire, where state school pupils generally don’t have any sixth-form provision in their secondary schools.

Noteable features, apart from the bespoke black-and-white “network” layer, are the keys, which change depending on the choropleth selected.

I presented some screenshots of the mashup, and talked about how it was made, at the RGS conference in Manchester, in August.

A screenshot of the mashup forms the banner of this blog.

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