Words: Aisling Rippin & Katie Trickett
When we look back on school days, what will we especially remember? We may recall the odd lesson when something unusual happened to a student or the teacher approached the subject in an innovative way. It might well be that a theatre trip or sporting event will stay longer in the memory than when we had geography in Year 8 or what we dissected in biology in our final year. But the field trip, long a staple of the school year and now reinstated after pandemic curtailment, will bring a warm glow long after the socks are wrung out.
In June, Brookfield’s Year 12 geography students embarked on a field trip to widen understanding for our A level exams.
A day was spent in Sheffield City Centre supporting human geography case studies. We carried out a clone town survey, seeing how much Sheffield’s high street matches others in the UK by looking at the number of chain stores. The fieldwork was an opportunity to work together as a group of eight students but be more independent from our teachers. Visiting Kelham Island, we investigated the effects of gentrification, seeing how a place has changed over time to become upgraded and redeveloped. This was a great experience, giving us the time to carry out fieldwork essential to A levels, having been unable to do so at GCSE.
Subsequently, we went on a residential to Whitby where we stayed at Boggle Hole in a Youth Hostel, right on the beach. Many of us collected data for our Non-Examination Assessment (NEA coursework), worth 20% of our A level grade. Throughout our trip, we collected both human and physical geography data, the physical consisting of beach profiles and measuring sediment sizes, as well as longshore drift. The human geographers collected land use surveys in Robin Hood’s Bay and Whitby, as well as pedestrian counts, environmental quality surveys, questionnaires and comparing prices of goods in different areas of the town. Interested in people’s perceptions, questionnaires were a great way to gain understanding and insight into how a place is given meaning through its different purposes - for example, the cultural influence of Dracula and tourism.
Once again, our time in Whitby allowed us to spend time as a class, as well as a group of friends, with us all walking along the beach in the evenings as well as playing board games. Year 12 has been quite a stressful time for many of us and, coming just before our mock exams, the trip was a great chance to enjoy our A levels outside of the classroom, spending time collecting data to help our overall understanding of geography in order to aid us academically. Enjoying our evenings as a group was a great way to remind us that although A levels are really important, our academic achievements aren’t the only important aspect of school.