Year 11 Swanage Field Trip

On Thursday 19th October, the geography department took year 11 to Swanage Bay, for their compulsory GCSE field trip. With Storm Ophelia still lingering, Miss Varley was growing increasingly anxious about the prospect of trying to measure sediment in Hurricane strength winds! However, despite poor weather conditions on the horizon, all 37 pupils and 5 staff managed to depart Rivers Academy before sunrise and made the 3 hour journey to the Dorset coast.


With spirits high on the coach, Mr Jones took charge of the coach microphone, gifting the pupils with snippets of knowledge about the farm animals/geographical features we were passing, before handing over the microphone to Mr Cunningham for a History lesson on the historic castles of Swanage.


When we arrived at Swanage, the pupils caught a glimpse of the coast for the first time and were taken to the end of Swanage pier to complete a field sketch of Old Harry’s rock. Awards were given out for the best field sketch (well done Ripley) and despite the fog, the pupils still managed to sketch the white cliffs of Dorset’s Jurassic coastline. We then moved to the beach front, and began collecting data for the Physical Fieldwork Enquiry: “Does hard engineering protect the beach at Swanage?”


We split into groups and positioned ourselves at different points of the beach, and began collecting data on the amount of sediment on either side of the groyne. This was to investigate whether the groynes were protecting and building the beach, or were ineffective management strategies.

After this, pupils then got into groups again along the beach, and launched oranges into the sea, measuring how far they would travel in one minute. This was to see how powerful the process of long shore drift was. Some awards were given out later, with Mr Jones winning an award for the ‘worst throw’ – Ms Summers might want to add to this! After this activity, pupils then conducted a wave count, to assess whether the waves at Swanage were constructive waves or destructive. This all helped to answer our overarching field work enquiry – and the year 11 pupils got to see with their own eyes, the theory we study in the classroom.


After a spot of lunch on the beach, we walked back to the coach, and began the 3 hour journey back home. With Mr Davy and Mr Jones leading the Swanage field trip award ceremony, the journey back went quickly and we were back in Feltham for tea time. A truly fantastic day made possible by the sheer enthusiasm, positivity and determination of the Rivers Academy pupils. They were impeccably behaved and had real geographical spirit! A credit to the school – well done year 11!