Close this search box.

Idea 15 East Head Spit

East Head Spit

This project idea was contributed by Mark Bamford

Exam Board Components that this project links with
AQA A Unit 1, Section B: The Coastal Zone
AQA B Unit 1, Section A: The Coastal Environment
Edexcel A Unit 1, Section A: Geographical Skills
Unit 2, Section A: Coastal Landscapes
Edexcel B Unit 1, Section B: Coastal Change and Conflict
OCR B Theme 1: Rivers and Coasts
WJEC B Theme 2: People and the Natural World Interactions- Landforms and People


This activity is used to introduce students to spits and to help them understand the dynamic nature of the coast. It is centred on East Head Spit in West Sussex, but clearly the animations and types of activities can be used for any spit chosen for case study by your department.

Key Geography Objectives

  • To identify how music can be used to portray coastal landscapes
  • To understand the formation of spits
  • To understand the fragile nature of spits and to identify historical trends in terms of movement
  • To start to understand why spits are managed.

Key ICT Objectives

  • The analysis of photos
  • The use of online mapping websites
  • The use of virtual field trips using websites
  • The use of music
  • Analysis of historical maps
  • Linking photos to maps with the possible use of the interactive whiteboard

Running the Activity

Note: This activity is designed to use the PowerPoint which can be downloaded below, and which can be adapted for a local area. The photos included in the PowerPoint presentation and worksheets would likely need to be taken by a member of the department. Fortunately, East Head is part managed by the Chichester Harbour Conservancy and it has a superb website with a variety of pictures, text, newspaper articles and historical maps.

1. Starter Activity: Introduce the idea of how the physical environment has inspired painters, composers and poets. Show slide one of the PowerPoint, all about Benjamin Britten and the Four Sea Interludes. Play the two tracks, ‘Dawn’ and ‘Storm’. Various versions of the two tracks can be bought on the internet as a download. If you wish to purchase the CD, a recommended version is on the Apex label, catalogue Number 8573890822 and normally about £5 – £6 at the time of writing.

2. Share the learning objectives with the group. Show slide 3.

3. Show slide 4 to show students where East Heat is located. Then use the photo on slide 5 and discuss the shape/characteristics of East Head.
Now would be a good opportunity to explore East Head more with Multimap or Google Earth. The ‘Bird’s Eye’ views are exceptional.

4. Introduce the idea of spits using slide 6 (it is assumed that the students already understand longshore drift). There is a link at the bottom of this slide to a useful Flash animation (note: site is now defunct) from Wycombe High School’s geography VLE (along with many other superb animations of coastal processes). Get students to watch this. Some sort of written activity is likely to take place here about spit formation.

5. The students are then split into pairs or small groups to examine historical maps of the area. The students are given time to investigate what has happened to the spit over time and are encouraged to prepare for sharing their views on the trend and why they think it has occurred. Class discussion would follow and there could be opportunities for interactive white board annotation. Use slide 7.

6. Show slide 8 and try out the excellent virtual fieldwork trip. Then commence the photo recognition activity on slides 8 to 10. The students could be asked to point on the board where the photos are taken. If an interactive white board is available, several students could draw on where they think the photo was taken and draw an arrow in the direction in which the person taking the photo was facing when they took it. The PowerPoint would then resume and the answers are provided using animated colour coordinated arrows. During the plotting of the photos, the importance of the images would be discussed in terms of what they show in terms of threats and management used. A worksheet could be made of these images and space could be provided for student annotations.

Teacher note: The hinge was so thin the authorities constructed a rock berm in 2000 at the hinge to prevent the sea from breaching the hinge. They subsequently took 15,000m³ of sand from the northern end of the spit and placed it over the rock berm and planted marram grass to stabilise it and provided wooden boardwalks to prevent erosion due to trampling in 2005.

7. Plenary session. Show slide 12. The key thing here is to reach this slide in the slide show mode and then press Esc. Each square can then be deleted one-by-one to reveal the picture In this example, a blowhole has been used, but this picture could be substituted for a photo that relates to spits or work covered in a previous lesson. However, when you close the file make sure you don’t save the changes as you will lose the squares!

Further Ideas

  • Should it have been protected? Use the website to see what species are present on the spit/salt marsh and analyse tourist numbers
  • More advanced ICT users could use tourist numbers to plot on map traffic counts / pedestrian counts / user surveys etc. This could be done using GIS
  • Lead on to coastal management. You could provide a list of possible defence methods with costings and give the students a budget. They then have to present what they have done to manage/protect the spit, for example by annotating a map using an interactive white board.

East Head Spit. Photos by Mark Bamford


Chichester Harbour Education – This website is full of handy resources, such as photos and virtual fieldtrips, and is well worth exploring. has some resources on coastal processes. The GeoBytesGCSE blog from St Ivo school has some notes about spits and other coastal deposition landforms. Geography at the Movies also has some interesting videos to choose from.

All photos on this page by Mark Bamford

Become a member

GA membership provides specialist support and expert advice for geography teaching

Geography Quality Marks

Register for the 2025 Quality Mark before 31 July and receive a 20% discount off your fee

Geographical model making competition

Encourage your pupils to get involved and explore their creativity and geographical knowledge by creating a 3D model. Entries close 31 July 2024