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Fakenham students’ work charts changes to North Norfolk coast

Geography A-Level students from Fakenham Sixth Form have been helping to
record changes to North Norfolk’s coastline due to coastal erosion – and now
their work will help educate others about the issue thanks to a link with
Sheringham Museum.

For each of the last 4 years, successive groups of students have measured and
recorded changes to the beaches at Sheringham, Weybourne and Salthouse, through
annual fieldwork visits in February and April.

Their surveys provide a growing set of data on the changing coastline, which is
important because these changes have implications for the likelihood of local flooding
events due to storm surges, such as that which occurred on 13 January 2017.

The students’ work has generated a high quality body of data which is now incorporated
into some of the educational resources on display in Sheringham Museum. The data is
also available for the students to analyse in their independent investigations, which they
undertake over the summer between years 12 and 13.

The project has special significance for one former student in particular. Catherine
Thorpe was part of the first cohort of geography A-Level students to take part in 2013.
She subsequently went on to do a geography degree at the University of Southampton,
returning to the North Norfolk coast for her dissertation.

Now a trainee geography teacher with Norfolk Teacher Training Centre, Ms Thorpe has
maintained the link with Fakenham Sixth Form. She recently co-wrote an article about
the project, with Colin Bye and Sally Hirst, which has been published in the
Geographical Association’s journal, Teaching Geography.

Fakenham Sixth Form student Michael Viner, 17, who plans to study Geography at
university, said:

“It does feel 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 or 10

miles away from you. It brings it much more to life and makes it more realistic than
regular coursework you might do.”

Fellow A-Level Geography student Millie Latter, 17, who also plans to continue with
the subject at degree level, said:

“Geography can be applied to so many things and the Physical and Human aspects
blend so well together. So on the North Norfolk coast, for example, when there’s a
storm surge obviously there’s an environmental impact, but there’s also social
implications for the people who live there. It’s got applications to so many different
aspects of life.”

A-Level Geography student Dominic Hancock, 17, added:

“This has given us the chance to take part in a professional study that is the culmination
of several years’ worth of work. I am so proud to say that I have been a part of this work
and been able to contribute to it. I think it’s exciting to know that possibly one day my
primary data will be someone else’s secondary data, and they will be able to use my
stats, our findings, in assisting them. It gives you a nice feeling because you are helping
future generations.”

Colin Bye, Head of Geogaphy, Fakenham Sixth Form, commented:

“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.”

Pictured: A-Level Geography students from Fakenham Sixth Form measuring changes
to the elevation of the beach at Sheringham earlier this year (Pic credit: Colin Bye).