Investigating the ‘Outdoor Classroom’ at Epping Forest

Form 6 pupils were eager to get their hands dirty and wade into the river, despite the heavy rain, when they visited Epping Forest Field Centre, a Special Area of Conservation. Head of Geography, Mr David Palmer, explained “we practised working together in groups, learnt about delegation of tasks, our role of responsibility to the group as a whole and how to sustain interest and high quality work in inhospitable surroundings, whilst also learning about the changing course of rivers”.

The young geographers were encouraged to get thoroughly muddy as they studied the source of Loughton Brook at the Essex centre. One Form 6 pupil explained that the purpose of their visit was to “investigate the changes in the characteristics of a river” and this included getting to know little river creatures a close proximity, as the pupils measured the width, depth, velocity of the river as well as changes in its load.

Studying a real river focused the children to trust what had been written in their textbooks and to think far more about the processes that occur all around them. They were also able to relate what they were discovering via data collection to their first-hand knowledge of the physical environment; an excellent preparation for writing up their results in their presentations to senior schools.