Fieldwork ideas and resources

This page contains a selection of fieldwork ideas and resources for all key stages.

The GA Secondary Phase Committee have produced a 5-minute fieldwork plan template.


Early years and primary

Secondary and post 16

Risk assessment

Early years and primary

A structured approach

Fieldwork is usually concerned with careful observation, recording of information (e.g. through sketching and describing the features, patterns and processes that make up the environment). A structured approach can be useful, but pupils should be encouraged to use all their senses and not be slaves to completing worksheets. Encourage pupils to observe, sketch and think carefully about what they are seeing.

Primary fieldwork is about immersing pupils in their surroundings; feeling smooth rocks on the beach, smelling the air, feeling the texture of the autumn leaves in the woods, listening to the noise of the city and so on.

Cross-curricular links

Consider links to english and other foundation subjects, for example:

  • river dances - reproduce the movement of the water in the form of a dance
  • Wordscapes - fill the field sketch with adjectives to describe the view/landscape
  • poems - pupils think about their fieldtrip and write a noun, verb, adverb and adjective on each one of four cards provided. They swap with a friend and add other words in order to write a line from a poem. Put all the lines together to form a group poem about the trip.

Fieldwork ideas for the school grounds

Fieldwork means exploring the 'outdoor classroom'. Perhaps the most accessible field excursion can take place in the school grounds. In answer to the question ‘How can we use the school grounds?’ Here are some suggestions:

  • take digital photos of features in the grounds from odd angles or very close up. Print them off with a map. Pupils have to find the location of the photos, then take their own photos
  • tell pupils to stand still and close their eyes. What can they hear, smell, touch, taste? Ask them to open their eyes – what can they see? Record their experiences as a Mind Map (Buzan, 2003). Compare the school grounds to other places in the locality and/or pupils’ homes. Produce a 'senses map' of the locality for display illustrating the results from all pupils’ homes.
  • investigate what happens to water on different surfaces and slopes. Where does it go?
  • make a river channel using plenty of builders’ sand on the play ground. What features can the pupils see?

Further information

At the 2014 GA Conference Julia Tanner and Jane Whittle ran a session about strategies for engaging pupils in rich geographical learning experiences through fieldwork in the school grounds. It demonstrated how to audit school grounds for geographical learning potential, provide opportunities to see some examples of pupil work and include some practical fieldwork. You can download the session presentation here.

Maximise fieldwork

This Powerpoint reminds us of the importance of fieldwork, how to do it and provides some lesson ideas.

Good practice example

Improving teaching and learning using theoutdoor environment: Lavington Park Federation. Download this Ofsted report.

Understanding Place: taking an 8-way thinking approach

'Gilbert’s 8 Way thinking challenges and supports learning by engaging the learner with the 8 intelligences, which we all possess, but in which we have different preferences and strengths.'

Download Zip folder (GA members only, join here)

Fieldwork poetry ideas

Teaching ideas for speaking the landscape, writing the landscape, studying the landscape and recording observations.

Download Zip folder (GA members only, join here)

Location detective cards

Fieldwork ideas and activities including suggestions for recording observations.

Download Zip folder (GA members only, join here)

Other fieldwork ideas

Includes activity ideas for creating a sense of place and where do your pupils go for fieldwork, which has guidance on the types of places pupils should be taken for fieldwork at different ages.

Download Zip folder (GA members only, join here)

River activities

Resources and activities to study any river or stream at both prmary and secondary levels. The PDF resource was published by and focuses on the Luton Lea, the section of the River Lea from Houghton Regis, Lewsey and Leagrave Park to Luton Hoo Lakes.

Secondary and post 16

Take a themed walk

Explore an urban environment with a specific focus, such as looking for evidence of industrial heritage, play spaces and signs that say 'no'.

Some potential themes might include:

  • re-development: Look out for places where new buildings and spaces are in construction
  • parks and other green spaces: Where in the city are there the most, and where are there least?
  • advertisements such as billboards, on buses etc.: How much advertising are we exposed to during the walk?
  • CCTV cameras: How many can you spot, which parts of the city have the most?
  • everyday activities: Who's shopping and what are they buying? Who looks like they are working? Who's eating?
  • signs, such as those that forbid access for example, or signs that give orders.

Assessing sustainability

To begin with, students will study the Egan Wheel, which contains eight criteria that can be used to assess the sustainability of a given community. Then they will complete a sustainability assessment sheet as they study an area in order to record evidence of sustainability and the lack of it. They should look out for the following kinds of features:

  • green spaces, recycling facilities and evidence of renewable energy use
  • congestion on the roads, presence of public transport and/or cyclists
  • signs of a vibrant local economy with independent shops and businesses
  • evidence of plentiful services such as schools and hospitals
  • urban design - does the city appear well-planned and aesthetically pleasing?

Students will then examine the results of their assessment sheets for each of the areas they have assessed and then rank them in order of sustainability. They could then compare this with the actual list of UK cities ranked by global footprint which can be viewed online. The next step would be to get students to select one of the cities and suggest how things might be altered to improve sustainability. If they have the necessary skills, they could portray this visually, using either an online or printed map or using GIS.

London 2012 fieldwork ideas

This page includes background information about four different areas together with fieldwork activites, maps, fieldwork survey sheets and links to further resources.

Rivers fieldwork: Collecting and displaying results

Key Objectives:

  • to be able to use Microsoft Excel to log data in the field
  • to be able to use Microsoft Excel to create graphs
  • to be able to display data linked to a map- with the ultimate goal to create their own GIS maps in AEGIS 3

Go to page

River activities

Resources and activities to study any river or stream at both prmary and secondary levels. The PDF resource was published by and focuses on the Luton Lea, the section of the River Lea from Houghton Regis, Lewsey and Leagrave Park to Luton Hoo Lakes.

Examples of fieldwork

The resources below have been submitted by secondary teachers and members of the GA Secondary Phase Committee. They cover a range of topics from Physical to Human, from Rural to Urban to Rurban fringe, and include lesson plans, ideas, checklists and student handbooks to support tried and tested fieldwork. The resources provide material and ideas for conducting your own fieldwork.

For further detail on these exemplars contact Stephen Schwab. SPC Co-chair.

Key stage 3


Powerpoint for students to prepare them for the geography element of this cross curricular KS3 fieldtrip.

Planning details for teachers for this KS3 cross curricular fieldtrip.

A fieldwork booklet for KS3 students investigating a local environment, cross-curricular work geography, biology and design technology.

Cannock Chase

Fieldwork using cameras. A worksheet with tasks for KS3 students.

Lathkill Dale

An activities booklet for KS3 students, rural fieldwork including a decision making task.

Key stage 4


Activity booklet for KS3 students, urban fieldwork including rebranding.Activity booklet for KS3 students, urban fieldwork including re-branding.


Activity booklet for KS3 students urban fieldwork including surveying.

Fieldwork audit of Wales

If you are looking to carry out fieldwork in Wales the Wales SIG have produced an audit of suitable fieldwork locations linked to topic areas which can be downloaded here (doc).

Risk Assessment

Risk assessments put risks in perspective and demonstrate a commonsense approach. Find a sample risk assessment for a London Olympics site fieldtrip here.


Comment on this page

Comments made by GA members appear instantly and don't require security words to be entered - make sure you're logged in! Guest comments will be sent to a moderator for approval.

Join the GA

For professional journals, huge discounts on publications and CPD and online access to member only resources.

Join now
  • Cambridge International Examinations
  • Become a geography examiner
  • Nomadic School Tours
Receive our email newsletters

Sign up to our email newsletter for all the latest news and updates throughout the year.