One of the most interesting field trips I have been on was to a disused opencast coal mine in East Ayrshire. As a Fellow of The Geological Society of London I was invited on the field trip by the British Geological Survey and the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust to investigate a future educational use for Spireslack opencast mine. The mine offers unrivalled geological exposures of Scotland’s Carboniferous and industrial past, as well as a former way of life of many generations of Scots who lived in Glenbuck.
As soon as I saw this site, I thought of the potential for school pupils to visit and gaze with wonder as they learn about the geological and social history of the area. The mine is a perfect textbook example of how geoscience and environmental science can be linked together within one field work expedition, whilst linking in with Learning for Sustainability.
In February 2017, I coordinated and led a teachers tour of Spireslack, to promote the potential of the mine as a unique teaching resource. I invited teachers from the Scottish Association of Geography Teachers and my PGDE Geography cohort to gather opinions from a wide variety of potential shareholders. The group agreed the biggest shortfall of the site was the accessibility and safety concerns. If these concerns were to be overcome, then this resource has the potential to be where all Environmental Science pupils want to visit and conduct their assignment.