Sticking Together

Posted on: 13/11/2020


Above, Harrodian's Geography teaching team, November 2020. (L to r) Hannah McArthur, Ceri Ruzzi, Kerry Shaw, Heather Locke, Lizzie Noble (Not Shown: Susan Lanigan)

Harrodian's Geographers undertook their first field studies trip of the year last month. Head of Geography, Kerry Shaw explains how she and her close-knit teaching team are beating the pandemic

Last month, a vital missing ingredient was restored to Harrodian’s Geography teaching mix when Lower and Upper Sixth formers embarked on their first field work trips since the pandemic brought them to a halt in March. A Lower Sixth group travelled to the Field Studies Centre at Juniper Hall to undertake a Carbon Studies day. Meanwhile, Upper Sixth Formers also visited the same Surrey Hills destination on three successive days in October for crucial work gathering primary data for their Geography A Level field work practical studies.

Our tight-knit and mutually supportive team has helped us keep teaching going normally.

Kerry Shaw, Head of Harrodian Geography

‘As a trained geographer himself Mr Hooke knows how important the field work project is in building their skills and completing their exams,’ says Harrodian Head of Geography, Kerry Shaw. ‘We’re so grateful to him for supporting our efforts to ensure the A Level group got vital time at Juniper Hall when it became clear that their usual trip wouldn’t be possible.’

IMG_0335.JPGDespite the difficulties, Ms Shaw and her departmental team of six have continued to deliver their usual brand of high-quality teaching at Prep and Senior Level with a minimum of fuss over the past nine months, initially through virtual lessons and, since September, back on site at Harrodian. ‘It’s a tight-knit and mutually supportive team,’ Head of Department, Kerry Shaw tells me as we arrange a not-so-tight-knit, socially-distanced portrait outside the Senior Building. ‘That has helped us keep normal teaching going. But the fieldwork has been the missing piece in the jigsaw.’


As well as being exciting and motivating, taking part in field field work is a great way to learn

Kerry Shaw, Head of Harrodian Geography

Ms Shaw is passionate about the essential part field work plays in Geography teaching. That’s why Harrodian geographers are introduced to it at the age of ten. In 2019, the 10s (Year 6) visited Rushall Farm in Berkshire and Kew Gardens; the 11s went to Juniper Hall to study the local river; the 12s visited Richmond Park and the 13s went to Bushey Park; the 14s travelled to the Olympic Park in Stratford and GCSE students (15s) had their usual residential trip to Swanage for coastal and tourism study projects. ‘As well as being exciting and motivating, taking part in field work is a great way to learn,’ Ms Shaw explains. ‘It involves collecting and analysing data, thinking about different ways of undertaking a task or solving a problem, for example. It builds all sorts of transferable skills.’



Thanks to Lockdown Two, for the moment, the scope of Harrodian’s Geography trips is limited but Ms Shaw remains optimistic and positive, as ever. ‘We’re lucky enough to have school grounds where field work is possible as well as the Leg o' Mutton Reservoir in easy reach so we have access to places where pupils taking public exams can undertake field work,’ she points out. ‘They take priority for the moment but you can be sure trips will resume as soon as possible. All our usual destinations have been booked for the spring and we’re ready to go as soon as we get the word.’