Fieldwork planning toolkit

When planning your fieldtrip there are many things to consider:

  • Where are you going to go?

  • What will be the aims and objectives of the trip?

  • What procedures do you have to follow?

  • How will you staff the trip?

  • What activities will the students do?

  • And many more

Fieldwork tips from primary teachers

  • Have a gallery of photos/maps/images for children to annotate and use in their write up

  • Always go on a pre-visit, check location of loos, areas to play and have lunch

  • Make a visual timetable of the field work journey for SEN children

  • Spend some time before trip developing skills that they will use on trip, such as mapwork to allow them to orientate themselves

  • Take a digital camera and or a video to record the day and use the photos and film for follow up work

  • Bring plastic bags to sit on if it is wet

  • Do not be put off by all the red tape and keep believing that it will be worth it

  • Let the children have a go at doing their own risk assessment, it will make them more aware of the risks and the importance of staying safe

  • Ensure that they enjoy themselves

  • Let the children get muddy and have fun, then they will be able to walk for miles and will never forget the day

Fieldwork tips from secondary teachers

  • Get pupils to complete risk assessments for themselves, it improves their behaviour

  • Constant head counts throughout the trip

  • When taking classes out, try and take the form tutor as well. This improves the behaviour of the class immeasurably

  • Purchase fleeces/polo shirts in the same colour for staff so they are identifiable too

  • If fieldwork is dirty and school uniform is not appropriate, get the pupils to wear their physical education (PE) tops

  • Make sure you take enthusiastic colleagues with you

  • Phone the coach company a few days before the trip and confirm the booking (or check if there are any problems on public transport)

  • Make staff who have come on trip or covered back in school feel valued, for example by leaving chocolates in the staffroom

  • Do not reinvent the wheel – use as many existing ideas as possible. The basics stay the same, just try and find exciting ways of doing the work

  • Use the Field Studies Council. They help with equipment, worksheets, risk assessments, etc. They run day and residential trips, if you are not sure about the area, their courses are centre-led and you can learn from them

  • Get in contact with Initial Teacher Training colleges, trainee teachers can be great support staff on trips

  • Purchase a single copy of all the latest fieldwork text books and use them as a basis for your planning and ideas

  • Use camera phones and videos to create presentations and to show health and safety information

  • Link fieldwork with an international school exchange – the VSO offer advice on this

  • Make sure you keep your sense of humour in the face of inclement weather/failure of coach to turn up/students complaining of mud on their white trainers/three inch heels in the mud on a floodplain/100th complaint about sheep poo

  • Create coach boxes out of empty photocopy paper boxes. Contents include bin bags, sick bags, wet wipes, bottled water, toilet or kitchen roll, first aid kit, emergency contact lists etc. You can use them again and again saving you time


The Real World Learning campaign will help get you started: Out of Classroom Learning- practical information and guidance

To help you with your fieldwork planning, our fieldwork resources have been tagged as such in our resources database. We have resources for both human and physical geography fieldwork, and activities that focus on developing your students' geographical skills.

Staff at FSC Brockhole have developed a framework for progression in fieldwork (PDF), suggesting when different skills and concepts could be introduced to fieldwork studies from Key Stage 1 to AS/A2. It forms a useful template for planning your fieldwork programme.

This presentation (PDF), written by Nick Lapthorn, Head of the Juniper Hall FSC Centre, highlights the importance of ensuring that you know what your students are going to do with their data before they collect it.

Sophie Macdowall, former Head of Geography at Guildford High School, has contributed this planning sheet (PPT) which her students complete before undertaking thier individual study. It encourages them to think through the whole fieldwork project before they start.