Earth Sciences receive generous donation

The Henley College would like to thank the trustees of the Pye Charitable Settlement for its generous donation of £500 to our earth sciences department.

The Henley College is very proud of its expertise in the earth sciences. It is the only state-funded school or college in Oxfordshire to offer either Environmental Science or Geology A Levels and its Geography department is one of the highest performing in England for fieldwork.

The grant has been used to purchase additional scientific equipment, including an extra soil auger, hygrometers and Tullgren funnels. Sandra Wickens, the Head of Department, said “the earth sciences are hands-on subjects and should not be learned in the classroom alone. Actually getting out there and using equipment to collect data brings home to the students that Geography, Environmental Science and Geology are practical earth sciences. We give our students complete free rein their independent fieldwork project; they’ve done everything from human geography in New York, to air pollution studies in Reading to glacial erratic surveys. It’s essential that they are able to borrow the kit they need to succeed, whether it is a 100m tape measure, a GPS or a hygrometer. It’s expensive stuff! We are extremely grateful to the Pye Charitable Settlement”.

In June, Steve Backshall, who lives locally, enthusiastically got behind the campaign to promote our environmental science course, saying “When I was taking A Levels, Environmental Sciences were for naive bunny huggers who didn’t understand the realities of the real world; which I guess is one of the reasons we’re in such a mess right now. My generation has chased infinite economic growth, and obsessed over GDP, while also moaning about how we’re running out of space and resources. Now THAT’s naive. All that is changing. Ecologists, biologists, conservationists and naturalists are now vital in the corridors of power. Behind every businessperson and politician, is an environmental scientist showing them the way, or fighting them tooth and nail. Many of the people I respect the most are environmental scientists; not afraid to recognise and take on the problems of our planet. Quit being part of the problem, be a part of the solution. If I had my time again, I'd study Environmental Science”.

Sir Michael Palin, a champion of Geography who fervently believes in the importance of fieldwork, immediately lent his support to the department, saying: “Geography is more than a subject - it’s an adventure! Knowing about geography is essential if you want to understand what’s happening to the planet”. Fieldwork is at the heart of all our earth science A Levels, both locally and abroad, with as many trips as possible being squeezed into the curriculum.

For more information about any of our earth sciences, please contact Sandra Wickens on