On Monday 23rd September at 8.50 am, we gathered in the car park on a misty morning. Some students appeared to have packed enough for a fortnight in the Andes, rather than 3 days in Swanage. However, with careful packing and a bit of squeezing, we packed the minibuses and made our way down to the coast.
As we arrived on Swanage sea front at lunchtime, the fresh salty air filled our nostrils and the excitement grew. After a quick pit stop, we made our way to our base for the next three days – The Chatsworth Centre
on Ulwell Road. Rooms allocated and bedding collected, we settled in.
After an hour in the teaching room to set the scene and familiarise ourselves with the geography of the area, we collected the fieldwork equipment and emerged into bright sunshine and a stunning blue sky.
First stop was Swanage beach to create a field sketch to highlight the physical and human features along this stretch of coastline. Next, completion of a bi-polar matrix to access the various coastal management strategies employed at Swanage – groynes, sea wall and beach replenishment amongst them. Finally, in groups to conduct a beach profile using ranging poles, tape measures and clinometers.
After 5 hours of work, it was time to head back to our accommodation. Basketball, table tennis and American football were a popular choice before dinner.
Another day at the coast and we awoke to a misty morning in Swanage. A good cooked breakfast set us up for the day. we spent the first hour in the classroom going over what we had learnt the day before and prepared for the day ahead, covering areas such as drainage basin processes, geology of the area, coastal management strategies and flood hydrographs.
By 10 am we were out again. The first part of the day involved us investigating the flood alleviation scheme in Swanage. A walk to the sea front, was the first port of call as the sun came out, to search out the culverts which had been created to take flood water away from the town centre.
Once maps had been annotated, a brisk walk inland in the sunshine, then led us to the large sand bunds that had been built to create a retention area to cope with any flood water. Along our journey was saw the sluice gates and embankments constructed on the river bends to reduce the rate of undercutting on the river banks – perfect examples of flood management, a typical Case study question in the GCSE exam.
Following a break back at the beach, the students were set a task to create an 8 foot by 8 foot model on the sand, to illustrate all they had learned so far. The results were very impressive as the Swanage coastline, its human and physical features along with the various management strategies started to emerge. The amount they had remembered was excellent – although the photos below don’t do the work justice. There were some ingenious models, using seaweed, driftwood and pebbles amongst other things. The winners were Dan’s team, whose prize was to be waited on at dinner by myself and Mrs Wetton!
The final task of the day was to create and conduct a population survey to see if Swanage has a typical spread of age groups for a small town. The results, backed up what we had looked at in class about urban and counter-urbanisation and the draw of coastal towns for those of a certain age who desire a more relaxed pace of life – useful example for exam questions on quality of life and service provision. By 5 pm it was time to return to base. After dinner, another excursion down to the Sea front. All went very quiet, very quickly when students were sent to their rooms to sleep. A full on day!
Breakfast at 8.30 am, rooms tidied and cleared. Once the minibus was loaded, we made our way towards Studland South Beach car park. Clipboards and booklets in hand, we started on the 2 mile walk to Old Harry (via a quick detour – I swear the signpost said turn right!). Once again the sun was out and the coastline looked magnificent. What was only seen before in textbooks and on video was now stretching out in front of us. A brilliant case study example for the exam on the formation of an erosional landform.
After a reminder of the processes involved and some photos, we made our way back to the minibuses and set off to our last location – Knoll beach at Studland. The final pieces of fieldwork were designed to access the impact of a tertiary economic activity (tourism) on the environment. In groups, students conducted a footpath cross-section, litter count and traffic survey. Just time for lunch at the beach cafe before we climbed back on board the minibuses and headed home.
So what can I say to sum up the trip?
The choice of accommodation (The Chatsworth Centre
) was perfect. The location was ideal – so close to Swanage town centre, all the centre staff were extremely friendly and helpful, plus the food was just the job.
The students were a credit to the school. Behaviour and attitude was first class. It was great to hear one of them commenting that this was… “the best school trip I have been on” despite all the work we made them do after school hours!
Now lets hope they remember it for the exams in the summer!!