The JH blog is back!

The 2016 re-launch of the Juniper Hall blog has finally begun! Firstly, thanks to Rowena for updating the blog on what was a really enjoyable couple of days at South East training. I thought as part of the re-launch it would be great just to post about some of my personal experiences so far at JH and as an FSC employee. I will be doing this by some form of writing, but more importantly, through lots of awesome photos. Just before I get started, there have been plenty of changes at Juniper Hall since our last post in 2013 including; an almost entirely new education team, new classrooms, and changes to the main house. A lot to take in, I know, but there is an extremely positive vibe around JH and we are all really excited to see how much we are progressing as a centre!


‘Santas Grotto’ Christmas card photo 2015. Most of team JH – Featuring the goats and some fairly questionable outfits

My primary role at Junpier Hall is as an Education Assistent during my Sandwich year at University. I study Geography and Media (granted, a bizzarre combination) so being in the outdoor fieldwork environment at JH is the perfect compliment to the Geography half of my degree. Fortunately, Simon Ward has also allowed me ownership of the Twitter profile (@FSCJuniperHall), asked me to write the bi-monthhly newsletter, and has given me access to this exciting blog! So I really am getting the best all round experience in terms of implamenting my uni work into a proffessional environment.

I thought I would kick things off rather light heartedly by sharing with you some of the experiences that I have enjoyed since working (and living) at Juniper Hall since August 2015 with some more nice images dropped in along the way.

I was introduced to the FSC in a bit of a whirlwind, my first three days involved Biology training at Preston Montford near Shrewsbury. Being a Geographer, introductions to new specs and teaching methods for A level Biology was a bit advanced for the GCSE I obtained in the subject back in 2010. However, the experience of feeling part of the team and bonding with my new colleagues turned out to be an invaluable and enjoyable one. It gave me a strong sense that the FSC as an organisation emphasise that outdoor learning, practical engagement and inspiration are crucial to understanding and therefore better exam results for students. On top of the FSC induction from a work point of view, I was also introduced to the social side and soon learned that there were plenty of trips to the pub and team building walks to come.

Team bonding session – the education team stroll. Not a bad view of Dorking either.

Next was First Aid training up in Wales at the beautiful centre, Margam Park. Although I have only visited 3 FSC centres (so far) in my short time as an EA, Maragm Park is by far the most unique in terms of it’s appearence. Built on stilts in order to immerse the centre into the park itself, there is a genuine feeling that you are at one with the outdoors. Fallow deer can be seen roaming and grazing beneath you as you cross the bridges from building to building and it’s a real pleasure to be in their presence.                                                           Side track over, First Aid training was one of my best weeks in my working life so far. We were split into two large groups, my group was instructed by a really enthusiastic and nice man named Dave. He was from Hartlepool so had that natural northern charm that got everyone relaxed and keen to get involved in the 5 day training programme. We were guided through step by step on how to intervene if an incident occured and were taught how to treat the most miniscule of paper cuts, to a potentially life threatening injury. The week came to a close with a real life senario involving 15 casualties and 12 trained First Aiders. Rather tragically, the first aiders were informed that a bus had crashed and there were a number of casulties that required treatment. The First Aiders were then let loose onto the scence and did their best in treating the wounded. It highlighted; how stressful a situation such as this can be, the importance of recognising and prioritising an injury (and deciding on it’s treatment), and TEAMWORK!

Fallow Deer at Margam Park. A brilliant week summed up in one picture.

So far (in this blog post) I am only about 8 days into my FSC career and I have already rambled on for a rather long time. So instead of writing this much on everything I have experienced and enjoyed so far at Juniper Hall, I thought I would just share some of the photos that I have taken (ones that I am fairly proud of) in order to sum up my time between August and the time of writing (Jan ’16). Not to worry, from now I will keep posting on this blog regularly with all things JH and I’m really looking forward to it!

I take far too many photos of this Cedar tree that is located right in the heart of our goat pen. The silhouette is just too tempting. (plenty more to follow in later posts)
My first opportunity to observe a masterclass in rivers teaching/fieldwork way back in September with Daniel Farnes and his measuring staff.


Daniel again showing off in the new soils lab (which used to be the chicken shed)

Pictured above is when we all went a bit mad for fungi during the Autumn months. My personal favourite is the coral fungi (top).

More Cedar tree and more fungi
This little beauty is our resident female pheasant. Often found in the field behind the MET pen or prowling around our two largest classrooms East and West.

I have plenty more thoughts, expereinces and photos to share!

Looking forward to it,



South East Regional Training

By Rowena

On the 11th and 12th of January, staff from Field Studies Centres all over the South East region came to Juniper Hall for regional training. Very exciting! Two days of lectures (and lots of FSC fun) lined up, with speakers from Juniper Hall, other centres and outside guest speakers too. All fun for us at the centre, and visiting staff from the other London centres (Amersham, Epping Forest and the London Projects), Flatford Mill, and Slapton Ley.


Tasty insect snacks on the tables- Yum!

The day kicked off at about 10am with an overview of the geography specification updates, and sharing of resources for new A-level biology. Everything’s changing this year in the exam specifications, so we’re updating all our teaching resources. We’re trying to get away from using powerpoints, as they’re a little overused at the moment, and instead trying out programmes like SMART notebook, and apps like Popplet and FreezePaint. With any luck I might get a chance a bit later on in the term to write another blog post about those!

Next, Jo from Flatford Mill talked about “Immersive Ecology”, an exciting new session to engage students with ecology. We’re very excited about this, and eager to implement it at Juniper Hall- it’s a new session at the start of residential courses, designed to get students thinking about ecology and how amazing a topic it is, rather than throwing them right into hardcore coursework or controlled assessments. Hopefully we’ll get to teach it very soon!

After, we had a look at some of new resources, we moved on to looking at Field Network Systems, which allow immediate upload of data collected in the field to the web, using a remote wireless network that can just be put in a safety sack and turned on. This was very exciting to investigate by the ponds- we did a little data collection ourselves, recording the water boatmen, daphnia and flatworms wriggling around in our nets.

Heading back inside for a while, we investigated some new apps to use with tablets (such as freeze paint, like I mentioned before). There are some really cool teaching tools I’m excited to use in the future.

After lunch, we took a walk up to Broadwood’s Tower as a group and back down through Happy Valley, slipping and sliding our way through the woods. It’s quite muddy at the moment, but thankfully outdoor tutors are always prepared with their walking boots!


Looking out over the Burford Spur

Back in the Templeton Room, we covered peer observation and how it can be used for personal development, how courses can be reviewed effectively to make them more engaging and relevant, and how to implement questioning in sessions to get the best out of students. This session was led by external speaker Caroline Upson, who gave us valuable advice on illustrating standards of work. In the future, we intend on making “success criteria” for different presentation methods, to show the level if detail required to achieve different grades.



Success criteria for drawing cross-profiles

It was a good high to end the day on, having created some useful new resources to use in teaching. After dinner, we headed as a group to the local pub to catch up on news and enjoy different company. The hardier of us headed later to the Ice House for a campfire under the stars- I was told it was lovely, but very cold!



Day two started off with something a little different; guest speaker Lisa Minshull came in to update our maths skills beyond the statistics we all know (and love!!) to teach. It was pretty tough at times- my maths is not quite as good as it’d like to be- but very rewarding when even I managed to get some of the answers right! Hooray!

maths wall.jpg

The maths wall

The last session of the day pulled together everything we had learned over the past day and a half. Working in our centre groups, we looked at what we could take from training to put into resource development and teaching. There were a lot of really great ideas flying around, and I think we all got a lot out of two days of training- certainly I did!


Working hard!