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IOL Field Studies PPG

IOL Field Studies PPG Home Page

About the Field Studies Professional Practice Group


The Field Studies Professional Practice Group is made up of members who are engaged in, or have an interest in delivering study led programmes in Field Studies or Environmental Education. Many members are based at residential centres, but we also have members who organise day visits either at private venues or work in partnership with other organisations. Both Fieldwork and Environmental Education are long established ‘branches’ of outdoor learning and members have a wealth of experience to share.

Aims; Our main aims are to be the specialist voice of Field Studies and Environmental Education; to ensure this voice is not lost. To share good practice among organisations and practitioners and aid the personal/ professional development of all those working in Field Studies and Environmental Education. To promote Field Studies and Environmental Education both regionally and nationally, using all the contacts and resources at our disposal.

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Field Studies PPG Committee

Chair - Vacancy

Secretary - Vacancy

Treasurer - Vacancy

Committee: - Ashley Butterfield, Dawn Thomas, Matt Smith, Tom Humphreys, Tom Davis




The IOL Field Studies Professional Practice Group is committed to shaping and developing good practice in field studies, fieldwork and environmental education with organisations, teachers, leaders and instructors.



IOL Accredited Training

Attend an IOL Field Studies Professional Practice Group event and benefit from the experience, passion and collective wisdom of professionals in the field.




Get in touch with the committee to get answers to your question, no matter if it is big or small.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Field Studies? Does ‘Fieldwork’ mean something different to ‘Field Studies’ is there a difference between the definitions?

Different people tend to use different words and may mean different things, but the terms ‘Fieldwork’ and ‘Field Studies’ are often used in the same way; usually to mean the academic or practical study of the natural world and the interaction between people and the natural world, most commonly within the subjects of Geography, Geology, Biology and Environmental Science. Most of these subjects require ‘field work’ (by which the exam board or curriculum usually means a practical investigation) as part of the criteria for completing the course.

What about Environmental Education? Is that different?

Again; some people might describe their work as Environmental Education rather than Field Studies or Fieldwork, but they are likely to be doing much the same thing, or at least talking about similar topics in their practise. Most of the variation between FS PPG members is in the setting or style in which they work with groups, but most are delivering courses about the environment, landscape, natural world or human relationships with those things.

Didn’t you used to be called NAFSO? What happened there?

Yes; an organisation called NAFSO – the National Association of Field Study Officers existed for many years as an independent membership organisation, promoting the work of centres and providers in this sector of outdoor learning. It was decided in 2015, to join the Institute of Outdoor Learning and become a Professional Practise Group, to increase access and awareness of the work of the group and to work more closely with others in outdoor learning. It’s going very well so far..!

What does a typical Field Studies session look like?

There are quite a range of possibilities! One classic example might be a river investigation. Students visit various points along a river and collect data about the river, including width and depth, but also looking at the surrounding environment, the landscape, and the human activity in the area. Depending on their age and academic level they might focus on particular areas, or practise measuring techniques, or just be aiming to learn some geography in a fun way..! This might take a large part of the day and involve walking or travelling by minibus or coach to different parts of the river.

What qualifications do you need to tutor/teach/deliver/be a practitioner of Field Studies?

There isn’t a fixed, universal definition of what qualifications are required, but many centres will use a ‘relevant degree’ as a minimum pre-requisite. This is because schools will often expect centre staff to have a degree, especially if they are facilitating sessions and courses to A-level standard. Some centres recruit staff with teaching qualifications also. It does depend what level of course or session the centre is running though – some providers may be running simple guided walks and just require bags of enthusiasm! Just like in the adventure activities world, it really depends what is being delivered.

How can I bring Environmental Education or Field Studies into my adventure sessions?

That’s probably too big a question to answer here, but it’s exactly the sort of issue our members will be really happy to help you with. Just get in touch with us, or perhaps you could consider joining the group and meeting lots more members who can help you?



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