Year 13 Geography Residential Posted: 21/10/22

On Monday 3 October, the Geography department took 18 Year 13 students to Box Hill, Dorking for a weeklong residential as part of the course requirement for their Independent Investigation (NEA). We stayed at Juniper Hall FSC, a beautiful Grade 1 listed house that was used by the Canadian military during World War II and was sold to the National Trust in 1945 as part of the Box Hill Estate. The students had five full days of fieldwork with time to start writing up their Independent Investigations in the classroom.  

On Monday afternoon students began their fieldtrip with a focus to the Human Geography topic of Shaping Places. Following a detailed briefing in the classroom, students visited Leatherhead to look at existing and proposed regeneration plans and practiced primary data gathering techniques. The students spent the evenings looking at the ArcGIS workshop, learning the technique of transferring primary data into a graphical representation on a map of the areas they had visited.  

On Tuesday, following a hearty breakfast, the day began with a challenging walk up to the top of the fairly steep Box Hill; firstly, to admire the beautiful views of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and secondly to complete a field sketch and learn skills to maximise their aptitude in this technique. The second part of the programme involved looking at carbon sequestration in the woodlands, working in small groups to use simple techniques to measure and quantify this. The afternoon focused on the water cycle at Box Hill, where students investigated different land cover types and considered the impact on the water cycle, both in terms of overland flow, infiltration and flood risk. This required careful teamwork to make their investigation a success and consideration of sampling techniques. The evening session considered their methodologies and the strengths and drawbacks of the techniques used before enjoying some free time to relax in the common room. 

Wednesday morning provided an opportunity to get to grips with data analysis and carrying out statistical tests, such as Chi Square and the student t-test on their data, to establish the strength of relationships between different data sets. Identifying the plan for their own investigation, based on their learning experience from the start of the week.  Initially they had to design their own enquiry question, identify the primary data techniques they would use and create the materials to gather this. In addition to this, students conducted background research using a range of secondary online sources. 

On Thursday, students went out in their groups to collect data for their own individual investigations. Both the study centre and teaching staff were very impressed by the titles the students developed, all choosing a unique focus for their investigation; with students looking at carbon stores in the Box Hill and addressing the current and potential rebranding in Leatherhead. The evening continued with analysis of the data and culminated in a night walk exploring the surrounding natural environment and constellation spotting. 

The students worked incredibly hard and made the most of every opportunity given to them. They all made a very strong start to their NEA which constitutes 20% of their A Level grade. All of the students have developed new skills which were firmly embedded in their learning. Their tutor at the study centre highly commended their resilience and tenacity and the achievements they had made during their stay.

Well done Year 13 Geographers.