Skip to main content

Outdoor Learning this year

To some, it may have seemed that I’ve dropped off the planet over the past few weeks.  This has been quite deliberate as we get ourselves organised for a year of getting outside and also while I finish a book project. This post aims to outline some of the activities we plan to do, and how they are linked in to the curriculum, and outline some of the activities during the upcoming Year 10 GCSE fieldtrip to the Dorset Coast.  In particular, I outline how technology and creative techniques are going to be used.  I will be speaking more about this topic at this year’s Microsoft Innovative Education Forum in November.


I strongly believe that outdoor learning is central to developing young people’s understanding of the world beyond the classroom and is pivotal in encouraging personal development. 

This year, as a department, we have organised many of our outdoor learning opportunities – this means organising paperwork, etc etc. The development of outdoor activities also links to our Ofsted targets.

I thought that we would share some of the activities that we plan to do, and also highlight the unofficial Twitter channel. @field_geography will contain details of the visits and its stream will be aimed mainly at parents and other educators.


So the visits are (so far):

  • Year 11 GCSE fieldwork in the local area based upon investigating housing issues.
  • Year 10 visiting the Dorset Coast in order to investigate the effects of coastal management and practice their enquiry.
  • Year 7 head to the farm for a day to investigate sustainability issues.
  • Year 8 and 9 take part in two off-site visits for the BBC School Report.
  • Year 8 head to the North Downs for their Eco-Challenge for four days investigating sustainability and conservation.
  • Years 8,9 and 10 will head to Iceland to explore around Easter.

This compliments our use of the School Grounds for fieldwork, including our Guerrilla Geography units.

Year 10 Dorset Fieldtrip

The main purpose of the visit is to practice those skills that will be needed for the Controlled Assessment as well as exploring some landforms around the Highcliffe to Hurst Castle Spit area.


The aim is to have a wide range of activities and get pupils considering the validity and reliability of different types of data. The Barton-on-Sea are is a classic case study of the effect of coastal management.

Highcliffe Car park

  • Learning walk down to the seafront - pointing out signs of erosion / cliff retreat and management strategies. The classic mantra of ‘eyes were invented before books' will lead this section.
  • Interview people. One of the mainstays of geographical enquiry is the questionnaire, so pupils will discover the pitfalls of collecting data in this way.

  • Field sketch from the clay of Barton cliffs. A field sketch with a difference, using the sand and clay of the area to create and colour a fieldsketch of the area.

  • Plan and shoot a video describing and explaining sea defences in the area. This will be done in small groups of 3 using two Flip Ultra HD cameras.  Pupils will have to be concise during their 30 second clip.

  • Identifying land use from satellite images - these will be transformed into Google Earth placemarks and tours linked to photographs.

  • Record audio describing the coastal management – this will be an optional activity where pupils record short descriptions of the area using their personal devices.

  • Taking photographs of management techniques and evidence of erosion using our Olympus Tough cameras.  The aim is to turn these into collages back in the classroom

  • Soundtrack matching the mood

  • Annotating a map - evidence of coastal management - to be followed up in the classroom and turned into information posters.



  1. How lovely to see your plans. Thanks for sharing. I think many secondary teachers remain overwhelmed at the thought of taking students outside to learn and it's such a wasted opportunity.

    I think it's partly because the work has to fit so carefully into the ongoing curriculum and to create outdoor experience that do this just takes time.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

#GAConf22: A paradigm shift for anti-racist, decolonised teaching and inclusion

 " You can't start a fire,  You can't start a fire without a spark" Bruce Springsteen.  Well, it's been a fair while since I felt the motivation or the need to blog. Whilst not a story for now, over the past five years I've danced along the knife edge and, often, the call of the abyss has been both tempting and compelling. Certainly, my failing in both my personal and professional life have been numerous. But. This is not about me, but the people that have (re)ignited the spark to the fire in my soul. I realise that this is from the perspective of a privileged, white, middle class male view. I even have a beard. I am scared of getting it wrong on this topic. Teach me if I am wrong, it is from the position of a learner. I was looking forward to the GA Conference this year, the first face to face since 2019. I have to say that Alan , as president, and the Geographical Association's team did a fantastic job at being inclusive. The hybrid format allowed peopl

What makes a learning experience profound? Personal reflections and possible implications for classroom practice.

I have recently begun a Leadership Pathways journey.  As part of the first core day, we were asked to reflect on a profound learning experience. This got me thinking about how many profound learning experiences I have both been involved in, and how many I have been able to give to others.  Our group came up with a huge long list, but these are my five. Emotional Connected Demanding Reflective Collaborative As always, these are personal thoughts and quite mixed up.  I put them here so that I can look back on them (plus they’d get lost inside my world-cup-free brain) 1. Emotional I can’t think of a time where deep learning hasn’t engaged my emotions.  From being awe inspired to that tingle feeling when a student gets a light bulb moment.  From this-is-the-happiest-day-ever, to I-think-I’m-about-to die.  How often do we engage the emotions of those we teach?  Here, I would argue that having a safe learning environment is not always conducive to profound

Trust and support our school leaders, the role of the governing body in the Covid times

One of the roles that I love is being the Chair of a Governing Body.  The aim of this post is to share what we are doing, as a Board, during these difficult time.  I will refrain from commenting on the role of the Government, DfE and local authority as I intend for this to be both a positive and useful post. What is clear is that governing bodies have a crucial part to play. I am grateful both to the brilliant Clerk and the National Governance Association whose Covid advice pages are fantastic. Firstly; from the outset, the brilliant leadership team that I work with have my unwavering and public support. Regardless. As this is a fast evolving crisis, often with pages of advice, guideline and directives to decipher and digest on a daily basis. As such, the role of governing bodies is twofold: 1.  to prioritise the providing of support to the Headteacher and all colleagues in the school, and 2. to allow them to get on with operational matters and decision making. The role of