Field Studies - Inspiring students on the Jurassic Coast

Durdle Door Jurassic Coast Fieldwork Location

The Environment Agency has been busy this month, replacing sand which has been washed away from the coast around Weymouth in Dorset by recent storms. This will be of great interest to schools studying Coastal Management as part of a Field Studies course at PGL Osmington Bay this year. However, Coastal Management is only one of many study opportunities available at the centre. Stu Houston, Study Courses Team Leader based at Osmington Bay explains a little more about the diversity of the Field Studies opportunities in the area.

"I suppose you could call me lucky. I'm one of those people who went to university, got a degree, and then got a job where I actually get to use it every day. And it's not an office job. It's anything but that. It's the ideal job in the perfect location to promote Geography, Biology and Maths. It's the Jurassic Coast. And it really doesn't feel like a job at all.

What makes the south coast of Dorset so special is the variety it offers. One day I could be on the beach rockpooling with a group of Year 5s, discussing Adaptation and Habitats while looking for crabs and goby fish. The next I might be running a session on Forensics with Year 8s, thinking of different ways to collect evidence from a daring heist that took place the night before! And the weekend? Trips to Lyme Regis and Charmouth with A Level students, looking at Tourism or Coastal Management, getting an idea as to whether a particular strategy has been a success or not.

Evenings on centre can be just as varied. Some groups want to relax after a day out, so we'll run an evening entertainment session that will keep everyone engaged. Some want to continue on from what they've been studying, and will do anything from writing up their data, to creating video presentations using stop motion technology, or we might be running a full class debate to try and get everyone thinking about every aspect of their stay.

It's times like these that I realise how fortunate I am. That I have the pleasure of making Geography real. For some students, it doesn't quite click until they've seen it for themselves. And seeing that moment when they do finally understand a particular concept makes it worthwhile. I love the look on their faces when they see Durdle Door (pictured) for the first time, and they stretch their eyes along the coastline, picking out all those features that they've learned about in the classroom. Or when they're able to identify all the different species of plants during a session of Psammoseral Succession.

So I think it's fair to say that I'm passionate about what I do. And PGL has provided a beautiful centre and an ideal location to share that passion. I am looking forward to 2016, bringing even more schools to the centre, more excursions and more "lightbulb" moments for our fantastic guests."

by Stu Houston.

Find out more about Field Studies Courses with PGL.
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