Wednesday, 18 May 2022
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Wednesday, 18 May 2022

UK outdoor education charity helps teachers build confidence in fieldwork

A charity specialising in outdoor education is helping teachers across the UK gain confidence in practical field skills for subjects such as geography, biology and ecology following the pandemic.

The Field Studies Council (FSC), which operates a network of education centres across England, Wales and Scotland, is seeing an increased demand for its professional development courses that are designed to help teachers build knowledge of fieldwork skills such as mapping, observation, data collection, data analysis, essential first aid and forest school techniques.

It comes after a recent report by the Geographical Association revealed that some teachers, particularly early-career geography teachers, had limited training in fieldwork because of the Covid pandemic, which is now impacting on their confidence and subject knowledge to design fieldwork sessions for students.

Andy Pratt, head of education and operations at FSC, said:

“Opportunities for everyone to gain practical, first-hand fieldwork skills have been hindered over the last two years because of Covid. Students have missed out on learning vital field techniques but teachers themselves have been unable to access opportunities to keep their skills up to date.

“In particular, newly appointed teachers that qualified during the pandemic have not had the opportunity or experiences to gain the relevant skills to ensure they can plan and deliver practical fieldwork sessions confidently to their own students.

“As a charity, we have a long history of providing professional support to teachers and our role post-pandemic is proving more important than ever.

“With our field centres now fully operationally, we are working with schools and colleges across the UK to ensure teachers are fully equipped with the knowledge and technical skills they need to cement their own understanding and improve the quality of their teaching.”

UK outdoor education charity helps teachers build confidence in fieldwork
FSC helps teachers across the UK build their confidence in fieldwork and outdoor skills.

The charity, which has its headquarters located in Shropshire in the West Midlands and has provided environmental education for more than 75 years, employs a range of expert tutors to deliver on-site training to teachers.

The push to ensure all teachers have the confidence to deliver and assist with practical fieldwork sessions either in their school setting or off-site comes as the education sector prepares for exams to return to normal in 2023, including the reinstatement of practical and non-examined assessments such as fieldwork.

Andy added:

“Fieldwork associated with geography, biology and ecology is the element of learning that often excites and motivates a student’s interest in a subject and helps youngsters to consolidate their classroom learning. So, when we’re hearing that teachers aren’t confident in delivering these sessions, it’s vital that we support them ready for when the mandatory fieldwork element is integrated back into the exam timetable.

“Being able to make sense of messy data and developing problem-solving, quick thinking practical skills are the types of attributes that will be in great demand as these students leave school, college and university and for many will be the kind of skills they need in order to secure their jobs of choice.

“It’s also really important that we capitalise on the enthusiasm, curiosity and interest that students are demonstrating about the natural world. Many of them care deeply about the environment and are eager to learn more. This is shown by the significant upturn in the number of students choosing geography as one of their GCSE subjects over the last two years. There has never been a better time to get students and their teachers out into the field.”

The FSC’s own range of residential courses offer primary and secondary school students and teachers the opportunity to visit several locations in the UK to explore an abundance of natural environments and landscapes.

Andy explained:

“These courses generate excitement among the students, but they are also a great way for teachers to pick up different ideas from our expert course leaders, which they can then take back to school and incorporate into their own lesson plans.

For more information on the FSC’s teacher training courses, please visit: https://www.field-studies-council.org/group-leader-and-teacher-training/.

More details on school residential trips can be found here https://www.field-studies-council.org/courses-and-experiences/ or by emailing: enquiries@field-studies-council.org or contacting 01743 299968.

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