Go east, young men! Geographers compare areas of London

Year 12 pupils headed off to east London for a field trip designed to help them with their research for A-level geography.

The day-long visit took in firstly Stratford – including East Village in E20, London’s newest postcode – and then the vibrant ‘hipster’ hotbeds of Spitalfields, Brick Lane and Shoreditch.

Head of Geography Emily Parry said: “East London was chosen as the location as it is an area that is undergoing social and economic change as a result of gentrification and regeneration.”

The boys are now using the findings of the field trip to help them decide on their area of research for their Independent Investigation – a 3,000-4,000-word piece of research which makes up 20% of their A-level.


“Such research, together with the Extended Project Qualifications that many of our boys take in the Sixth Form, mean that QE leavers are well prepared for the dissertations and extended essays that they will be required to write in higher education,” said Miss Parry.

The boys were given a background briefing on each area. They learned that “East Village is a neighbourhood in east London that was designed and constructed as the Olympic Village of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and has been converted for use as a new residential district,” and that “The East End has always been recognised for the wealth of cultures represented. Spitalfields served as a microcosm of this polyglot society, the ‘melting pot’ fusion of east and west.”


Accompanied by their teachers, the boys first took the Central Line to Stratford Station and then walked around E15 and E20, taking in locations such as The London Academy of Excellence – dubbed by some the ‘East End Eton’ – and Stratford Centre shopping mall. They then had lunch in the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre, which is Europe’s biggest.

Among the questions they were given to consider were:

  • E15 and E20. Which area has the better quality of life? What makes it better? To what extent does regeneration help to improve quality of life?
  • How do the two shopping centres (Westfield and Stratford) meet the needs of different groups of people?
  • How is east London being re-branded? To what extent is the Olympic Park important in re-branding each location? What further need of re-branding is evident?

In the afternoon, they took the tube to Liverpool Street, from where they explored Spitalfields Market and the surrounding streets, before heading north along Brick Lane towards Shoreditch High Street. They noted sites along the way such as Boxpark (a food and retail park made out of refitted shipping containers), Cereal Killer Café (the UK’s first cereal-themed café), the Old Truman Brewery  (an arts and media quarter) and the Jamme Masjid Mosque (an historic building which has been home to a succession of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim worshippers).


Here, the questions included:

  • How and why is population changing in Spitalfields?
  • How is gentrification changing places in east London? Gentrification can result in increased social and economic inequality in a place: was there evidence of social and economic inequality in these places?