Ethical Geography Fieldwork

Girls studying rivers on a Geography tripCaring for our environment is something that really matters to young people and for Geography students at Solihull Sixth Form College this academic year has presented an opportunity to focus on the local environment, whilst also completing fieldwork for their A level studies (photo to the right shows previous fieldwork completed abroad before the pandemic).

Year 12 Geography students have been exploring the environment in and around the campus to conduct their Covid-safe fieldwork, which forms 20% of their final grade. The College is located adjacent to Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), which provides our students an amazing opportunity for exploration. The campus and the land surrounding the College, whilst not exotic in terms of foreign location, is superb for gathering primary data to support our students with their fieldwork, covering topics such as the carbon cycle, the water cycle, sustainability of the built environment, the impacts of the College buildings on temperature and biodiversity.

Geography teacher Helen Evans commented:

“It has been amazing to get the students involved in exploring the biodiversity of our immediate surroundings and to do so in an ethically significant way, because all of our students have had equal access to this natural resource on our doorstep. It has helped some students to re-engage (or in some cases engage for the first time) with nature.

“We have also explored the impact of the environment on mental health, which is particularly important during this difficult time. Our Geographers started to come out of their Covid shells when we walked, sampled and sketched our green spaces. They made several visits outside to complete pilot investigations and we made Monday 14 June ‘Geography Field Work Day’, when we attempted to emulate the holistic ‘fieldwork’ experience, which included packed lunches sitting outside (socially-distanced), discussing future goals, chatting about resilience in the face of Covid and reminiscing about ‘lockdown’ online lessons.”

This engagement with the natural world is just one way the College has been working to become more environmentally conscious. The College already generates some of its electricity through solar panels and has done a significant amount of work in the last year to provide habitat for nature, including a wild area of campus for wildflowers and mammals such as foxes and badgers. A recent construction project to build a new Science & Study Centre saw construction done in the most sustainable way possible, with 100% recycled materials and most of the construction done off site to minimise the environmental impact. The Student Council is also keen to add an Environmental Wellbeing Officer to their ranks.

1 July 2021