Fakenham sixth form students’ work charts changes to north Norfolk coast

A-level geography students from Fakenham sixth form measuring changes to the elevation of the beach

A-level geography students from Fakenham sixth form measuring changes to the elevation of the beach at Sheringham earlier this year. Photo: Colin Bye - Credit: Archant

Geography A-level students from Fakenham sixth form have been helping to record changes to the north Norfolk coastline.

The sixth formers have been studying coastal erosion.

And now their work will be educating others about the issue thanks to a link with Sheringham Museum.

For the past four years, groups of students have recorded changes to the beaches at Sheringham, Weybourne and Salthouse, on visits in February and April.

Their surveys provide a growing set of data on the changing coastline, which has implications for local flooding.

This data is now incorporated into the educational resources on display in Sheringham Museum, and for students to analyse in their independent investigations.

And the project has very special significance for a former student.

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Catherine Thorpe was part of the first cohort of geography A-Level students to take part in 2013. She went on to do a geography degree at the University of Southampton, returning to the North Norfolk coast for her dissertation.

Ms Thorpe is now a trainee geography teacher with Norfolk Teacher Training Centre.

Student Michael Viner, 17, plans to study geography at university.

He said: “It feels really good to work on a project that has relevance to the real world, especially as it’s in our local area.

“You do see the effect on people’s lives that are 5 - 10 miles away from you. It brings it more to life and makes it more realistic than regular coursework.”

Fellow A-level geography student Millie Latter, 17, also plans to continue with the subject as a degree. She said: “Geography can be applied to so many things and the physical and human aspects blend so well together.

“It’s got applications to so many different aspects of life.”

And Dominic Hancock, 17, added: “This has given us the chance to be part of a professional study that is the culmination of several years’ work.

“It’s exciting to know that possibly one day my primary data will be someone else’s secondary data. It gives you a nice feeling because you are helping future generations.”

Colin Bye, head of geography, said: “This project has allowed students to gain a much deeper understanding of how changing geography has a real impact on local communities in North Norfolk.

“The quality of their data means that our students are directly contributing to knowledge of coastal change in Sheringham.

“We are delighted that Sheringham Museum are making use of the students’ work and helping to share it more widely.”

Sally Birch, education officer at Sheringham Museum, said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed working collaboratively with Fakenham Sixth Form to help support delivery of the ‘Changing Places’ aspect of the Geography A-level.

“Sheringham Museum tells the story of the town and its, brave, independent people over the last two centuries.

“Through engaging with artefacts, visual representations and a range of other records from the museum archive, students have been able to gain an understanding of how a place is known and experienced.

“Discussing past lives and events explains how a town like Sheringham develops an individual character and responds to changes over time.

“Sheringham is a museum about community, and is for the community and this is very much a part of our ‘Changing Places’ workshop.”