Fieldwork and the national curriculum

Fieldwork at key stages 1-3

The national curriculum for geography aims to ensure that all pupils are competent in the geographical skills needed to:

  • collect, analyse and communicate with a range of data gathered through experiences of fieldwork that deepen their understanding of geographical processes.

KS1 geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use simple fieldwork and observational skills to study the geography of their school and its grounds and the key human and physical features of its surrounding environment.

KS2 geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in a local area using a range of methods including sketch maps, plans and graphs and digital technologies.

KS3 geographical skills and fieldwork

  • use fieldwork in contrasting locations to collect, analyse and draw conclusions from geographical data, using multiple sources of increasingly complex information.

Planning fieldwork

Assessing progression

Fieldwork at GCSE

GCSE specifications in geography require learners to:

  • identify relevant geographical questions and issues, and establish appropriate sequences of investigation incorporating geographical skills, including enquiry skills
  • carry out fieldwork and out-of-classroom learning
  • use new technologies, including GIS, to assist geographical investigation
  • extract and interpret information from a range of sources, including field observations, maps (including Ordnance Survey maps of different scales), drawings, photographs (ground, aerial and satellite imagery), diagrams and tables
  • make informed geographical decisions
  • describe, analyse and interpret evidence, making decisions, drawing and justifying conclusions, and communicating findings in ways appropriate to the task audience
  • evaluate methods of collecting, presenting and analysing evidence.

Assessment objectives

All specifications must require learners to demonstrate their ability to:

  • select and use a variety of skills, techniques and technologies to investigate, analyse and evaluate questions and issues. Assessment Weighting =30-40%.

Research paper - The place of fieldwork in geography and science qualifications

By David Lambert & Michael J Reiss, Institute of Education, University of London

'The place of fieldwork in geography and science qualifications across the 14-19 age range remains contested, unclear and sometimes under threat. This report explores these issues and was informed by a one-day, invitation-only workshop that we ran at the behest of the Field Studies Council'

View full document here

Fieldwork at A and AS level

AS level specifications in geography require learners to:

  • carry out research, and out of classroom work including fieldwork as appropriate to the subjects chosen
  • use modern information technologies including GIS as appropriate to the content
  • develop understanding of the application and relevance of geography.

A2 level specifications in geography require learners to:

  • undertake individual research/investigative work including fieldwork
  • analyse and synthesise geographical information in a variety of forms and froma range of sources
  • critically reflect on and evaluate the potential and limitations of approaches and methods used both inside and outside the classroom.

There is no substitute for ‘real world learning’ – at least for some of the time. Research shows us exactly why fieldwork matters and the GA’s Manifesto ‘A Different View’ outlines its value. ‘Between heaven and earth’, a chapter taken from A Different View offers a rationale and references for further reading.


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