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  • An international school with a local feel

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"Keep Calm and Carry on"- Fieldwork during a Pandemic

The rarely mentioned recent pandemic has impacted education around the world significantly. For example, it has meant that 1.6 billion children have been unable to attend school. Here in Nanjing, we have been fortunate to have responded to the situation quickly and, as a result, the loss of school time has been kept to a minimum. However, although students have been able to attend school, there are some aspects of school life that have had to change for this year. One of those areas affected was Geography fieldwork.

There is a consensus in the Geography teaching community about the importance of fieldwork. For example, the Geographical Association in the UK says that conducting fieldwork provided invaluable experience of the ‘real world’ where students can extend their geographical thinking within a context. There is no doubt from the data and my lived experiences, that fieldwork adds value to the work done in class. Furthermore, fieldwork supports the acquisition of transferable skills that students need to use in other subjects, at university and in life more generally.   

Unfortunately, due to the public health risk posed by COVID 19, we were unable to do fieldwork as usual. However, my geographers are a resilient bunch and we adapted to the situation. With A level, we conducted fieldwork outside of school. We were looking at the question, ‘Has the recent regeneration of Chenguang 1865 Creative Zone improved liveability?’ We were investigating around the local government policy of regenerating areas that were formerly used as industrial zones.

Regarding IGCSE fieldwork, we were able to conduct virtual fieldwork. This was conducted vis the Fieldwork Studies Council, in the UK. The students looked at how quality of life varied within Birmingham, England’s ‘Second City’. This was a really engaging student-led programme that challenged the students’ preconceptions of the UK.

Year 11 students analysed the data from the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) to find contrasting areas within Birmingham

I am immensely proud of our senior students, who, this year, have delt with changes to their exams and fieldwork in a really mature way. In every instance, they have made the most of all the opportunities provided to them. Having said this, we are all looking forward to the day when trips outside of Nanjing can resume. Hopefully, the key stage three students (years 6-9) will be the next to experience a geographical enquiry in the field. 

 

Mr Hanlon 

Geography Teacher

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