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The Learning Curve

Mougins School Year 10 Geographers
Rachel Warren

Last week was the Geographical Association’s National Fieldwork week, where teachers are encouraged to take their classes outside, whether in the school grounds, the local area or further afield. The Mougins Year 10 geographers were very happy to be able to take part and to have the opportunity to travel to the beautiful Ardeche Gorge, accompanied by Mrs Warren and Mr Cooke.  

On Day 1 they hiked up from the riverside campground to a viewpoint that enabled them to get an overview of the physical and human geography of the area. After a classroom session preparing them for the next day’s fieldwork, it was time for dinner and then an evening swim in the Ardeche River. 

Day 2 involved crossing the river, either by swimming or in kayaks. The geographers then hiked to the sites where they would investigate how the River Ibie, a tributary of the Ardeche, changes downstream. They learned how to use various pieces of equipment, such as flowmeters, ranging poles, callipers and clinometers. They recorded the data they collected so that it could be analysed back in the classroom at the end of the day. This meant that they could draw conclusions to the hypotheses they had set at the start of the investigation. 

Day 3 saw the students investigating urban land use and the impacts of tourism on Vallon Pont d’Arc. It was market day in this beautiful town, so there were many people available to complete the students’ questionnaires and to be included in their pedestrian counts. The geographers also considered whether the large numbers of tourists present had affected the results of their environmental quality surveys. Back in the classroom, they learned different methods of presenting the quantitative and qualitative data they had collected.

Perhaps the highlight of the trip came on the final day, when everyone put on their helmets and life jackets to prepare for a kayaking trip down the Ardeche Gorge. The students successfully navigated the rapids and were able to observe at close quarters the fluvial landforms they had learned about in school. The scenery in the gorge was spectacular and this was a wonderful way to see it.

The students worked collaboratively in teams throughout the trip, upholding the Mougins School values at all times. The Adventure Ardeche team were impressed with the students’ behaviour, team spirit and attitude to learning, both outdoors and in the classroom. They were a real credit to our school community and highly deserving of the Geographical Association certificates they received for their enthusiastic participation in National Fieldwork week.

Fieldwork is an essential part of a geographical education as well as being a National Curriculum, GCSE and A-level requirement. It enables young people to develop their subject knowledge, gain a range of skills that are difficult to develop in the classroom and helps them to understand the ‘messiness’ of geographical reality. It has played an important role in the Geography experiences at our school for the last 20 years. After the enforced hiatus of the last two years, we couldn’t have asked for a better group of geographers to kickstart our residential IGCSE fieldwork once more. Well done Year 10!

Finally, a big thank you to the Adventure Ardeche team and especially to Ian Duffelen, our superb fieldwork tutor.

Mougins School Year 10 Geography Fieldwork
Mougins School Year 10 Geography Fieldwork
  • Secondary