Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Geography Fieldwork Academy - new fieldwork opportunity

Image: Alan Parkinson : Southwold from the Pier

One of our favourite places as a family is Southwold, on the Suffolk coast. This is just over an hour from home, and always a lovely day, with good food, fine Adnams ale, a quirky Under the Pier show, and a wander into town for retail therapy and the lighthouse.

The Geography Fieldwork Academy is a new opportunity for those needing to offer fieldwork for all age groups, and is based in Southwold, operating out of various buildings in the town, and offering a number of options for Geography fieldwork in an attractive location with no shortage of tourists and locals to interview, or coastal processes to measure. It was started in July by Chris Webster, a local geography teacher who has had a lot of experience in supporting colleagues with their fieldwork provision, and has now taken the plunge, and created this new venture. He has had a lot of support from local businesses and relevant organisations such as the Environment Agency. A pool of tutors is developing with plenty of experience in teaching and examining.

Here's the description from their new website. Check out the sections in bold in particular. I think these are excellent aspirations for fieldwork providers. The courses have been trialled and run over the last few months, and it sounds like they are adaptable to individual schools' needs, particular with respect to the NEA. They are also using some cutting edge GIS tools, which is great to see.

A successful field course requires lots of thought and logistical planning. Where will we go? How will we get there? Where will we park? Where can the students go to the toilet? What if it rains? Where will we hide if that black cloud turns out to be thunder and lightning!? That’s before you have even considered what issues you will investigate; how will students collect their data, have you got all the necessary equipment? Will the methods used generate appropriate data which can be interpreted and presented? And... does the investigation link with the new curriculum!! Above all, you hope that your fieldtrip is educational and engaging for your students!!
The Geography Fieldwork Academy is here to help. We have spent months developing high quality field courses for KS3, GCSE, AS and for the new NEA at A-level. We have linked all field courses to the new curriculum and can tailor each to specific exam boards. We have worked with local partners to develop unique courses which break from the norm, including our sustainable energy course with Adnams brewery. We have worked with the Environment Agency to build an archive of secondary data and we will demonstrate modern GIS packages such as ArcGis and Datashine.
We provide follow-up assessments at KS3, detailed A3 summary organiser sheets for all GCSE courses and at A-level our student log-in area enables students to customise their own data collection methods and fieldwork booklets before your field course.
Finally, our vision is to make high quality fieldwork affordable. With courses starting from as little as £8!! Your students will benefit from courses delivered by tutors who are not only active Geography teachers, but in many instances, Geography examiners.
This looks like offering an affordable fieldwork option in a lovely location which is relatively easy to get to from across East Anglia, and Essex and Suffolk in particular. I'm considering the options for taking my own students there, as it's accessible from Ely. Southwold is a compact and safe place to take students, and the local community looks like it's really supportive.

I wish Chris and the gang all the very best for their new endeavour...

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