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Geography - Make more of fieldwork

What's it about?

You look at the excited children clamouring to get outside, laden with clipboards, cameras, digital recorders and do a last head count, check the permission slips and asthma pumps and feel the cold fear. It's time to engage with geography fieldwork, writes Paula Owens.

Great fieldwork can be done locally: use the immediate school setting (early primary) or the area where most pupils live (upper primary) to tap into children's personal and everyday geographies and link with wider world studies. As a teacher, walking the area around your school with fresh eyes is useful geography CPD and essential for risk assessment. Involving pupils in risk assessment is good practice and makes a great lesson. Use a mix of digital imaging and mapping to ask children to identify what they see, discussing features and possible routes in terms of risk and safety.

Pupils can write or draw their risk assessment guide for the trip. For each identified hazard, try to include a space for pupils to say what the risk is, what action they should take to stay safe and a "who is responsible" space.

Going further

Geography is an enquiry-led subject, so within your planning framework or theme for learning, get pupils to identify the best questions, equipment needed and data collection methods. Use their ideas to write permission letters to parents, map routes and stops or plan any relevant interviews, such as with local businesses. It also pays to practise in school using digital equipment, reading maps, interviewing, recording and annotated sketching.

Use Google's Street View to check exact routes around your school. And see www.geography.org.uk, an educational charity committed to supporting the teaching of high-quality geography and fieldwork.

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