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Cross Curricular Local Fieldwork Investigation

Humanities - Geography, History, Religious education (RE) and Citizenship

Exploring the local, international and global links in our community.

This fieldwork exercise keys into a humanities cross curricular investigation where you can examine your local area from a range of scales and from a range of different perspectives.

Through examining the historical geographies of your local area alongside its current geographies students will gain a depth of knowledge about the past and present. Local community links with charities and churches will allow the students to experience the diversity that exists within their community and to see how local people can have links nationally and globally. The citizenship challenge runs throughout, inspiring students to make a difference in the place that they live.

The students will also gain much from the opportunity to immerse themselves in the local area and carry out a range of fieldwork techniques. This investigation is versatile in that it will need to be adapted to your own locality but the resources contained in this section should give you an idea of how to structure a cross curricular study as well as materials that you can download and adapt to meet your needs.

The fieldwork example that this is based on was carried out over two whole days as part of a collapsed timetable during an extended learning week. Many schools are adopting this approach in order to allow for more collaborative work between different curriculum areas. You could, however, adapt as much or as little of the framework as you like to suit your own situation. The sessions that we delivered will hopefully provide a catalyst for you to develop your own local cross curricular fieldwork.


To provide opportunities for in-depth study of the local area, the making of connections between subjects, practical investigative approaches, the application of skills, visits and field studies.

Learning Objectives

To promote community cohesion through:

  • Enabling pupils to recognise the different communities that they are part of, on a range of scales: the school, the local, the national and the global
  • Enabling pupils to value the different communities they are part of: the school, the local, the national and the global and the ways they do and can operate within these
  • Encouraging an appreciation of the ways these communities have interacted in the past and interact in the present
  • Promoting good community relationships
  • Helping pupils to appreciate how diversity enriches the school, as well as the local, national and global communities
  • Challenging racism and discrimination

National Curriculum Links:

Subject Key concepts Key processes Range and content Curriculum opportunities
Geography Place: 1.1a, 1.1b,
Space: 1.2b,
Scale: 1.3a, 1.3b,
Cultural understanding and diversity: 1.7a, 1.7b.
Geographical enquiry: 2.1a-g,
Fieldwork and out of class learning: 2.2, Graphicacy and visual literacy: 2.3a, 2.3b.
3a, b, c, g, h. 4 a, c, d, e, i
History Chronological
Cultural, ethnic and religious
Diversity: 1.2a
Significance: 1.5a
Historical Enquiry: 2.1a, 2.1b
Using Evidence:2.2a,
Communicating the past:
2.3a, 2.3b
British History:
3g 3h.
4a, b, d. e
RE Practices and ways of life:1.2a, 1.2b,
Identity, diversity and belonging: 1.4a, 1.4b
Learning about religion: 2.1a,
Learning from religion: 2.2b, 2.2c
3j, 3k 4a, b, e, g
Citizenship Identities and diversity: Living together in the UK: 1.3 a-d Critical thinking and enquiry: 2.1a
Taking informed and responsible action: 2.3a
3e, 3g, 3i 4a-d, 4f, 4h-j

The programmes of study for each of the subjects involved in the investigation:

Ten steps to planning your cross-curricular fieldwork experience

  1. Set your aims: Begin your preparation for the fieldwork with clear aims. Work out what you want your students to achieve and what skills you want to get students to use. Refer to the Rationale (above) for ideas
  2. Decide on the duration of the investigation: Decide how much time you have available to spend on the fieldwork activities. This may be a day or a two day period of time. This will influence the number and type of activities that you can fit into the fieldwork. Obviously, the longer the time available the greater the flexibility you have in the programming
  3. Divide up your time: Divide up your time into smaller chunks in order to aid your planning. You could use different lengths of time to allow for a range of activities. See the one day PDF | MSWORD and two day PDF | MSWORD sample planning grids to help with this and to give you a framework for planning your fieldwork
  4. Set your theme: It is useful to have a theme that runs through the fieldwork and ties the different subject areas together under the cross-curricular banner. In the example given below, the theme was: What is so special about Hasland? Exploring the local, international and global links in our community
  5. Brainstorm your activities: Now that you have an overarching theme, you should brainstorm all possible ideas for activities that might contribute towards the fieldwork. It is useful to do this with colleagues from each of the departments involved - history, geography, RE and citizenship - to ensure that there is a balance to the activities
  6. Check for variety: Check through your list and note down the type of activity so that when you choose your final selection you can give the students a varied experience. The types of activity might include a guest speaker, ICT research, presentation work, fieldwork off-site and fieldwork onsite. Guest speakers will need to be booked well in advance and briefed on the aims of the investigation. This document PDF | MSWORD provides some ideas to help you find a guest speaker for your project
  7. Allocate your time: Decide which subjects and topics you want to integrate into the fieldwork and work out how much time you want to allocate to each activity
  8. Make your selection: Once you have decided the ratio of time you want to allocate to each curriculum area you are ready to start to choose the topics you will cover and to begin to slot them into your planning grid
  9. Consider your workload: It is useful at this point to consider the workload that your choices might entail. Developing a new piece of fieldwork from scratch can be time consuming. A guest speaker will give a fresh face and voice and allow the teachers a bit of respite during the day. Think about what materials might already be around in the department. You may have an existing local area study in your geography curriculum that you could adapt to fit in with the aims of the cross curricular fieldwork
  10. Enjoy the experience!: Make sure that there is plenty of space for both staff and students to enjoy the experience. Build in time for reflection as well as ensuring that the students aren't rushed from one activity to the next

When you are creating your fieldwork booklet for the investigation, you might find it useful to refer to this suggested content list PDFMSWORD and sample fieldwork booklet cover sheet PDF | MSWORD for ideas of what to include.

Sample two day fieldwork experience

The tables below outline a sample two day fieldwork experience as well as the opportunities for follow-up work. Each session lasted for one hour.

Day one

Session one
Setting the scene

This session focused on setting the scene for the two days, distributing resources, challenging pupils' perceptions of their local area and team building.

The session also looked at the students' national and international links by reflecting on places that they have travelled to. This activity lent itself to a superb display linking pictures of the students to places on a world map (see photo below).

Session two
Chernobyl Children's lifeline

A session led by a local charity explaining the global links that local people can have. It explored peoples' motivation for charity work, research into a disaster and location of Chernobyl.

In response to this session all pupils wrote a postcard about themselves and the local area to a child in a school in Ukraine. These were taken by the charity to send to the school.

Chernobyl Children website

Session three
Why Chesterfield was called the industrial heart of the Midlands?

Two local people - one ex-miner and one ex-factory worker gave talks on their personal experiences of when Chesterfield was at the peak of its power as an industrial region.

Pupils gained much from question and answer sessions with the speakers as well as some research using historical maps of the area and old local newspaper reports. Evidence of the area's industrial past is also examined during the local area study.

Session four
Investigating Hasland - Fieldwork

(See Day two Session one)

Session five
Investigating Hasland - Fieldwork

(See Day two Session one)

Day two

Sessions one and two
Investigating Hasland - Fieldwork

The fieldwork combines some of the traditional techniques with some more up to date approaches to looking at a local area. The techniques students used were as follows:

  • Traffic flow count PDF | MSWORD
  • Pedestrian flow count PDF | MSWORD
  • Ground floor land use mapping for the high street
  • Field sketches PDF | MSWORD
  • National and global links survey PDF | MSWORD (looking at car makes, foreign cuisine, travel agents, car stickers, charity clothing bins, etc.)
  • Environmental quality surveys PDF | MSWORD
  • Mobile phone reception mapping
  • Date stone analysis linked to the historical growth of the town
Session three
St. Paul's Church

A visit to the local church for a talk from the vicar proved an eye-opening experience. The vicar was briefed to talk about how the local church acts nationally and globally. This enabled him to talk about charity work on the streets of Ecuador with homeless children. It also provided another perspective on people's motivation for charity work.

Sessions three and four
European Influences, The Architecture Of Hasland Hall

The school building has very clear links with European architecture. Students examined this through a detective style booklet. Photos of different parts of the building were taken which students had to locate, sketch and find out information about. The crest of the family who owned the house prior to it being turned into a school is still above the door. The students had to design a more appropriate crest for the building's current use. They also examined the original building plans to see how the rooms had been changed through time to create the spaces as they now know them.

This task is very specific to its location, but with a bit of research into your school's history, the detective booklet ‘Spying on Hasland Hall' PDF | MSWORD could be adapted for use with your school buildings

Display board showing the results of the activities


The follow-up work from the sample study was both wide ranging and varied. The ideas could easily be adapted for investigations in other local areas.

  • Students wrote postcards about their local area to the children in Belarus. These were sent off to a school in Belarus
  • Using ICT, students produced information leaflets on the topics of Chernobyl, Chesterfield's industrial past and the school's history
  • Students used a range of techniques to produce maps showing mobile phone coverage, traffic and pedestrian flow and land use
  • Students completed annotated field sketches of the places they visited
  • Students compared maps and plans to show the growth of the town, and used date stone and other observations on building age and styles to corroborate this
  • Students designed relevant school crests incorporating aspects of the school and local area history using the knowledge they had acquired during the investigation
  • Students brought together all of their findings and, in groups, presented them to the rest of the class
  • Students evaluated their learning from the task, thinking about the activities they had gained most from and summarising their local, national and global links. This evaluation document (PPT) provided a useful structure for their thoughts

Risk Assessment

Although you will have your own school based systems in place for out of school activities and for risk assessment, here is a list of things that you may find useful to consider as part of your planning for the activities:

  • Guest Speakers - If you are arranging for speakers to come in and deliver some of the sessions they will need to be police checked. This is worth thinking about well in advance of the fieldwork
  • Roads - If you are out in the local community you will need to consider how many roads will need to be crossed, where the safest place is to cross, etc.
  • Staff to pupil ratios - What are the requirements for supervision on and off of the school site? This needs to be thought about in terms of the group sizes that are off site at any one time
  • First aid kits and medical needs should also be considered
  • Weather conditions should be taken into account and planned for. Students should be given guidance on what clothing and equipment they require

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