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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Suffolk may not have the same number of waterfalls as Iceland, but the fish and chips are cheaper...

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Island Story

Writer J D Taylor spent four months on a bike a few years ago, travelling around Britain and seeing it in a way that many other travel writers have failed to do. The value of cycling is that you see the world at a slower pace, and are actually in the environments you are travelling through.
The author has created a very useful blog to follow the journey, and includes a whole range of additional resources and ideas that underpin the journey including some additional writing.

You can follow the journey with images and text from each stage of the journey.
The book is fantastic to, and I've just been reading it.
A part of this journey was a search for the UK's identity as the Brexit vote approached.


This is excellent for older students exploring such ideas as Changing Places, and also the GCSE unit on UK in the 21st Century.

There is a New Statesmen article here by the author, which identifies some of the themes in the book, which is certainly political in its nature.
I was also interested to read on the blog about his next book, helped by a grant he has been awarded, which will also explore the idea of place:

Titled Where Are We Going?, the next book takes the form of eleven narratives about a specific place and the people I meet, through which I document the effects of forces shaping British politics, from health and social care to deindustrialisation, the ‘gig economy’, farming and rural poverty, to immigration, class, identity and housing. I’ve begun preparing the book this year...

Augmented Reality in OS Maps app

More available here

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Allemansrätten

This is a beautiful film by Al Humphreys who has produced a range of videos and books related to the theme of exploration.

It explores the idea of access to land, which in some Scandinavian countries is a 'right' open to all men (and women). They have free access to land and can camp or walk across it.

“Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy" is the mantra here.

In the UK, there was recently an expansion of the right of access to include CROW land (Countryside Right of Way)

Allemansrätten from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

Allemansrätten is the right, in much of Scandinavia, for every man and woman to roam the countryside.
But with rights must come responsibilities too.
Should there be an expansion of this type of rights in the UK?

I met Al quite a few years ago now, when he was keynoting the SAGT conference that I was also speaking at, up in Glasgow.

I took advantage of this some years ago, when camping in Norway for several weeks and travelling up the coast with a friend.
In Finland, which I've also visited they have a similar right.

The worry would be that people might be happy to accept their right, but not their responsibilities?

Thought for the Day

The landscape is "as precious as any of our great ­cathedrals and we erode it at our peril"
Prince Charles

Sand dunes... how are they made?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Soils and natural Catchment management

Thanks to Ben King for the lead to this book which has been published online. When I used to teach the Soils and Hydrology Unit of the old Cambridge 'A' level back in the day this would have been perfect. This sort of complexity has been lost from many modern specifications, but for those who want to see why soil matters, this is a good read.
It explores the role of natural flood management, and the importance of the topsoil and good soil health in maintaining a healthy drainage. Great for higher level students in particular.

Click here to read online.
It's produced by the East Devon Catchment Partnership