Further information and links

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Fieldwork Through Enquiry

This book provides ten worked examples of projects which can be used with young people outside the classroom: five that are based in towns and cities, and five which explore rural or coastal contexts.

It has taken some ‘traditional’ activities and locations and added some new ideas and techniques. The enquiry approach underpins all the activities in this book. Each chapter is framed as a fieldwork investigation based on a single question, with alternative questions that could be answered using the same techniques. Buy the book here.

The Secondary Geography Handbook has a chapter on ‘inclusive geography’ with very detailed descriptions of teaching strategies that work inclusively e.g. literacy strategies etc. Chapter 31 is equally of interest – ‘inspiring disaffected students’.

The GA has published a number of other resources relating to fieldwork, all of which can can be purchased from the geography shop. Try typing 'fieldwork' into the shop search.

Projects and online CPD

Young Geographers

The Young Geographers project was a three-month pilot project funded by the TDA, which aimed to support teachers in planning for and carrying out a short unit of work with a focus on Living Geography.

Teachers were asked to design some locality fieldwork, thinking about aspects of ESD and personalising planning to suit their school context.

Eight individual school projects are presented on the GA website and each includes downloadable resources and information about how the units of work were conceived.

Making my Place in the World

The GA also has a project funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation) called Making My Place in the World. This was explicitly designed to pilot approaches to develop speaking and listening skills in disadvantaged students through applied ‘community geography’. It models and provides support for teachers to inspire young people with geography as an applied intellectual resource.

Online training courses

The GA website contains a range of online CPD units which help primary teachers introduce fieldwork activities into their teaching:

John Muir Award

The John Muir Award can be used to support and encourage fieldwork, outdoor learning, and the geography curriculum.

In this Year of Fieldwork, this Autumn 2015 GA Magazine article shows how you can use the John Muir Award to enhance your fieldwork at your school.

The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme that encourages people to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places. It’s free to use, and open to people from all backgrounds. It is the main engagement initiative of the John Muir Trust.

Four challenges are at the heart of each John Muir Award. To achieve an Award each participant must:

  • discover a wild place - this can be school grounds, local park, beach, mountain or national park
  • explore it – do things to increase awareness and understanding
  • conserve – take some practical action and personal responsibility
  • share your experiences.

It offers a flexible framework in which the activities identified by a participating school, college, or youth organisation can be tailored to meet the needs of the group, the wild place(s) chosen and the curriculum. It is an individual Award that can be used with class groups, whole year groups, and small groups of learners, individuals and families.

For more information visit the John Muir Award website.

High Quality Outdoor Learning

Published in 2015 by the English Outdoor Council and Field Studies Council Publications.

This updated, comprehensive and concise guide promotes the value and importance of high quality outdoor experiences for all young people. It is highly recommended as an essential support document for all those teachers, professionals and volunteers who advocate for, and deliver, outdoor learning. It identifies a wide range of benefits and outcomes of outdoor learning on individual attainment, health and well being, social resilience and lifelong learning and provides a clear rationale to justify the inclusion of outdoor learning in the formal and informal curriculum.

As well as supporting practitioners, this guide is also an important reference point for all those developing their own policies and practices for outdoor learning since it offers a well-structured and wide ranging rationale to put before decision-makers. The guide recognises the many varied contexts for outdoor learning including residential experiences and adventurous activities. Teachers, professionals and volunteers can use this guide to help evaluate their current activities, and encourage further improvements and developments.

Five core themes are highlighted and developed in this guide:

  • The value of participation
  • Nurturing of self-confidence
  • The potential for individuals to be challenged
  • The social and memorable impact of outdoor experiences
  • The balance of risk and challenge for young people

These themes help all those involved in outdoor learning to articulate a vision for their activities and ensure a real experience which inspires and supports young people. There are also 10 key outcomes, each with a comprehensive range of specific indicators, which can be used to evaluate the learning experiences of young people. These indicators can easily be recognised and evidenced in young people and organisations, to identify the positive impacts of outdoor learning on young people.

This guide is an invaluable tool for all those involved in supporting and developing high quality learning and it encourages collaboration and good practice. In an era of many pressures on school curricula as well as volunteer groups, this guide reminds us of the substantial contribution which outdoor learning makes to individuals, schools and communities. It is well worth reading.

Link to document - High Quality Outdoor Learning

A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning

In 2003 the Field Studies Council and several partner organisations commissioned a review of research into outdoor learning. The Review consisted of an academic survey carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) over a six month period and considered 150 pieces of research drawn from Britain, USA, Canada and Australia. At the time the review was published it caused quite a stir.

Margaret E Marker and David Cooper independently assessed the Review and produced a document entitled Comments On: A Review Of Research On Outdoor Learning.

Their main criticisms of the review are that the time period was far too short and many of the publications included had no clearly expressed aims and no survey of effectiveness.

They were concerned that the review's emphasis was too much on aims and outcomes and did not reflect the full range of benefits from fieldwork including: Cognitive Affective (attitudes, belief and values and self perception) and Physical/Skill (fitness and socialisation).

They challenge some of the observations of the report especially that:

  1. Young teachers have had little experience of fieldwork so feel insecure,
  2. Young teachers fear of loss of control,

and they question the effect of the National Curriculum, SATS testing, League tables, and Modular teaching at AS & AL on fieldwork provision.

Finally, they suggest that time out of school seems to be seen as loss of education and not as enrichment.

Download: A Review of Research on Outdoor Learning (March 2004)

UK School Trips

This is a useful website for planning school trips. It displays information about transport, workshops and accommodation. It is possible to specify the age group, region and curriculum topic to further refine ones search. Field trip suggestions are provided for each curriculum area. The site also displays the Learning Outside the Classroom manifesto to show what financial support is available.


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1 Comment

Paul Baker

Paul Baker GA Member

I am leading Fieldwork Expedition to Sabah Rainforest in Borneo in July 2011. Have filled in survey and hopefully would like to see more students involved in Outdoor Learning through Geographical Fieldwork.

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