I’ve always favoured local fieldwork for coursework activities. The main reason for this is that the wider context is understood by the majority of pupils as the place is known to them. Students are also able to meet the independent work aspect of most specifications as the study area is local. Also, if pupils miss the data collection it isn’t too difficult to revisit the site in their own time. I don’t see this changing with controlled assessments, especially when all of the GCSE cohort have to be able to access the fieldwork from a financial point of view.
However, for controlled assessment to be successful pupils have to be familiar with the process. This is just good formative assessment practice. The question is where to fit in a full ‘dry run’ of a controlled assessment? Of course, KS3 is a start. The plan is to hold a residential course for GCSE pupils early in Year 10. Over the 4-5 days the complete investigation will be carried out from formulating questions to concluding the work independently.Not quite revolutionary, but a good way to justify EXTRA fieldwork and a good team building activity for GCSE groups. Of course, the biggest barrier is to ensure that those who can not afford access to such an initiative do not lose out.