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Class 11 Surveying Trip to Cairngorms

The Main Lesson in Surveying, brought in the Upper School, is an opportunity to bring together a wide variety of skills; and this trip is an integral part of the Steiner curriculum.


The Main Lesson begins with a classroom based introduction to maps, their purpose and history. In the production of a map, pupils must integrate several subject disciplines, especially geometry, geography and art. Soft skills, such as teamwork, are also vital.


In June, Class 11 go to the Cairngorms. They stay in a youth hostel on the shore of Loch Morlich, and work on the nearby ‘Hayfield’ in Glenmore.

During the residential part of the Surveying Main Lesson, pupils work in groups collecting data in the field using theodolites and tape measures. Each pupil will contribute to the gathering of data to create the map, an exercise which will require patience, accuracy and teamwork. Only from first principles can the pupils appreciate the real nature of map-making.


After they have collected data, each group begins work on its own segment of a scale map of the study area. These segments are later brought together. Pupils now become aware of the potential for small inaccuracies to have a disproportionate effect: a small error in the field may prevent one segment from lining up with another.


This trip is lead by Geography Teacher, Mr Pugh with the support of other members of staff. The Class also enjoy a range of other outdoor activities, including water sports, mountain biking and hiking.


When the pupils return to school, they will have several days to finish their A2 size scale map individually, finally producing a unique and lasting record of their achievement. At this stage the emphasis is on producing not only a work of art, but an objective and practical representation of the study area.


At a time where most young people become specialised as a result of their exam choices, pupils at Edinburgh Steiner School continue to study a broad spectrum of arts, sciences, crafts and humanities in addition to their national exam subjects through the Main Lesson Programme, unique to the Steiner Waldorf Curriculum. As a result, irrespective of whether pupils veer towards the arts or the sciences in their exam choices, they continue to receive a valuable grounding across all subjects.

The subjects themselves are selected to be appropriate for a particular age group and developmental stage. In this way, the Main Lessons enjoyed by each year group come to be defined and coordinated by an overall ‘theme’. In Class 11 this is ‘journey’.

To enable this important Programme of over one hundred subjects over a pupil’s school career, exams are taken a year later than in mainstream. In Classes 11 and 12, the daily Main Lesson is slightly reduced in length to accommodate the examination subjects.


View: Upper School Curriculum