Geographers enjoy Field Trip to Barcelona

The Lower Sixth Geographers went on their A Level field trip to Barcelona, leaving behind the dull clouds and freezing January temperatures and taking in the bright and sunny landscapes of Spain. In the first afternoon the students had a tour of the city to gain a sense of place and an understanding of how the city has developed, under the expert guidance of the Barcelona Field Centre staff. The tour took in the Sagrada Familia, the port, the 1992 Olympic Stadium and arrived at a viewpoint overlooking the city. Here the students were able to appreciate the development of the urban area, the changes that the Olympic regeneration brought and the current pressures on the region from a variety of sources including Catalan separatists, globalisation, and migration.

After the tour the students travelled on to Sitges, the beach resort along the coast which was to be the base for the next few days. The first full day of fieldwork saw the students hard at work measuring the beach. Students learnt beach profiling, measured the impacts of erosion along the coast, assessed the impacts of the various management strategies put in place and analysed the sediment on the beach to gain a deeper understanding of the processes at work that shape the coastline. Students will be able to repeat these methods for their own A Level coursework later this year. The rigorous follow-up back in the classroom later in the day enabled the students to make sense of the data they had collected.

Next we had a full day back in Barcelona, focusing specifically on the 'Raval' region of the city. This place has seen many attempts at rebranding over previous decades, to varying degrees of success, so the students were able to measure the extent to which the environmental quality and nature of the buildings varied between different parts of the city. The students certainly went off the tourist trail to the dark backstreets to understand the resilience of the people in the very multicultural and socially diverse neighbourhood. A follow-up back in the classroom again allowed the students to draw graphs and draw conclusions from their data.

On the last day the students headed inland to explore the rural region of Priorat, which has seen high levels of depopulation as climate changes and young people leave to the big cities to find work. The students stopped at three villages to look at land use; many of these villages were empty of people, not least as a result of second homes and AirBnBs now dominating the residential scene. Wine growing has been responsible for a rejuvenation of the fortunes of this region and vineyards spread across the landscape, providing jobs and a welcome boost to the economy. From here students travelled back to the airport for an evening flight back to College.

The students worked hard and gained valuable skills that they can take back with them as they embark on their A Level projects, worth 20% of the final A Level grade. They were also able to consolidate their understanding of the case studies that have been learnt so far in the course. It was not all hard work; the hotel was comfortable and fed the students well, and its beach front location and mild temperatures enabled some late evening football to take place before the final roll call of the evening.

Dr Richard Bustin, Head of Geography