It’s complicated: senior geographers get some surprising answers to their questions during field trips

It’s complicated: senior geographers get some surprising answers to their questions during field trips

Boys studying Geography headed off to both city and country as field trips returned to their pre-pandemic ‘normal’ for the first time.

On their Human Geography trip, A-level students investigated gentrification in Wandsworth, where they met residents only too willing to share their views on how their area had changed.

On their more rural trip, pictured, Year 11 geographers encountered some locals, too ­– deer in Epping Forest ­­– while also having to face the challenge of understanding why the results of their practical investigation did not line up with classroom theory.

Head of Geography Emily Parry said: “We took 159 boys on field trips ­– 131 Year 11 pupils to Epping Forest over two days and 28 from Year 12 and Year 13 to Northcote ward in Wandsworth.

“It was great to be able to get out again, as so many trips had to be cancelled last year. Fieldwork is a very valuable part of Geography, as it gives the students real-world experience of what they have been studying in the classroom – helping both to consolidate and extend their learning. It also helps them develop skills which are difficult to develop in the classroom alone, such as teamwork and dynamic problem-solving in a changing environment.”

The Year 11 Physical Geography fieldwork in Epping Forest involved answering the question: How do river characteristics change with distance downstream along Loughton Brook? The boys went to three sites along the river and investigated its width, depth, velocity and sediment size & roundness. The fieldwork was led by staff from Epping Forest Field Studies Centre and was part of the AQA GCSE Geography course.

The field trip helped to consolidate boys’ understanding of rivers, which they had previously studied in a unit titled Physical Landscapes of the UK.

“We were lucky to have dry weather on both days and fortunate to see the deer,” Miss Parry added.

“We found that the width, depth and velocity did change downstream as predicted by the Bradshaw model, but there wasn’t a clear trend in terms of sediment size and roundness. This was in part due to human error during data collection, and in part due to the fact that this is a seasonal river and that, because of the lack of rainfall recently, water levels were low.”

“This was a valuable learning opportunity, as it enabled pupils to better understand the ‘messiness’ of ‘geographical reality’,” said Miss Parry.

For their Human Geography studies, boys made a short visit in the summer to investigate the question: To what extent is Barnet High Street a successful high street?

More recently, this month’s visit by Year 12 and 13 pupils to south London had as its goal exploration of the question: To what extent has Northcote ward undergone the process of gentrification? The visit was for part of a unit of study for the Edexcel A-level course entitled Regenerating Places, under which the sixth-formers are looking at the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Newham.

The fieldwork study allowed them to gain first-hand experience of how the borough of Wandsworth has changed. They completed a range of fieldwork techniques, including environmental quality surveys, land-use mapping and questionnaires.

“It was concluded that the Northcote ward area has been gentrified. This was evidenced through the range of boutique and high-end shops found along Northcote Road, the quality of the housing and built environment, plus the changing demographics of the area.

“The boys met some local residents who had lived in the area a long time and were keen to share their views on how the area has changed dramatically in recent decades – some sharing a view that people were being priced out of the area.”

The trip also included one further discovery of note, Miss Parry added: “The Year 12 & 13 boys were very happy to find out there was a Nando’s on Northcote Road where they could have their lunch!”