All the Fun of the Field

Posted on: 31/10/2018

IMG_3122%20(1).JPGFor children of all ages it’s been a busy start to the school year in Geography. Recent weeks have seen the 10s spending a day touring the grounds and greenhouses at Kew Gardens, the 12s collecting data in the wide-open spaces of Richmond Park and a three-day trip to Swanage on the Dorset coast for the 15s.

They are an essential part of the curriculum at GCSE but I’m also passionate about getting children doing field trips as early as possible

Kerry Shaw, Head of Geography

_1%20IMG_3120.JPGThe driving force behind the all-action practical approach is Kerry Shaw who has championed field trips ever since she became Harrodian Head of Geography six years ago. ‘Field trips are an essential part of the curriculum at GCSE and A Level but I’m also passionate about getting children into the field as early as possible,’ explains Ms Shaw. ‘It starts them on a path to acquiring skills that are essential for geographers as well as being very transferable. And it makes the things they learn in the classroom relevant by bringing them to life.’


As Ms Shaw explains, pupils aren’t expected to run before they can walk.  ‘The 10s have been learning how plants adapt to the tropical conditions of the Brazilian rainforest in class,’ she explains.  ‘In the Palm House at Kew they can look at growing plants such as cocoa, learn through listening to experts talking about them and make notes and draw them. Initially it’s all about careful observation.’


By the time they reach the 12s (year 8), pupils are acquiring further practical geographical skills.  ‘The pupils have been tackling tourism as a topic so we ask them to conduct a study on the impact that all those visitors make on Richmond Park.’ says Kerry Shaw. ‘They collect data about pedestrian and motor traffic and use simple equipment to measure the impact of footfall on plant coverage, for example.’


The pupils have been tackling tourism as a topic so we ask them to conduct a study on the impact that all the visitors make on Richmond Park.

Kerry Shaw, Head of Geography


The trip to Richmond Park made me look again at a place I usually take for granted

12s pupil

Meanwhile, the 15s, who are approaching their GCSE exams next summer, used the trip to Swanage to hone their ability both to collect data and to analyse it in depth.  This year’s schedule included a day on which they looked at the importance of tourism to the Dorset town, another which focused on coastal management and erosion on the Jurassic Coast and a third where they studied the sand dunes of Studland Bay.


DSC02453.jpgAmong further field trips this year are visits to Rushall Farm near Reading (for the 10s), to Juniper Hall in the Surrey hills (11s),  to Epping Forest (13s and 14s) and to east London and the Docklands (L6 and U6). An extracurricular Geography department trip to Iceland is planned  in 2019.