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English Heritage relaunches its education programme to address plummeting school trips to heritage sites

English Heritage has today relaunched its education programme for 2022, in a bid to encourage more schools to take advantage of the benefits of school trips to children’s wellbeing and cross-curricular learning.

The programme incorporates both free school trips and expert-led paid-for Discovery Visits at the hundreds of historic sites in the charity’s care.

  • In 20/21, educational visits were at 1% of their normal annual level
  • As we mark Children’s Mental Health Week, English Heritage is renewing its commitment to educational visits 

Despite being one of the UK’s largest providers of school trips, English Heritage welcomed a mere fraction of its average annual educational visitors last year.

In 20/21, just over 4,000 students visited its heritage sites, down almost 99% on its normal annual figures of 340,000. With studies consistently showing that children’s mental health, and in particular that of children from low-income homes or with special educational needs, has worsened during the pandemic*, the charity believes that school trips are more important than ever before.
Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “We are extremely hopeful that by encouraging more schools to return to educational visits, we can play our part in the process of levelling up and improving the wellbeing of children from every community. As we mark Children’s Mental Health Week, it seems particularly important to renew our commitment to education, by relaunching our programme of school trips.
“I am personally inviting teachers up and down the country to bring their pupils to one of our historic sites and to see for themselves the huge benefits the experience can bring, not just to children’s learning, but also their health and happiness. Connecting with a building that has stood for many centuries is a deeply grounding and rewarding experience, bringing history and past generations to life.”
English Heritage has continued to invest in and improve its educational programme. For 2022, the charity has appointed 162 new volunteers, created multiple new free Teacher’s Kits and downloadable teaching resources, and introduced six new expert-led Discovery Visits, with a further 22 having been revised during the pandemic. These include a wider number of SEN appropriate trips such as meeting the working donkeys at Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight and sensory activities at Portchester Castle in Hampshire.
The charity has committed to high quality education provision across its sites. In 2021, seven of our sites were awarded Sandford Heritage Education Awards and new specialist facilities have recently been developed at sites including Gainsborough Old Hall in Lincolnshire, Boscobel House in Shropshire and Walmer Castle in Kent, with a refreshed education centre at Osborne on the Isle of Wight coming later in 2022. The charity also engages local schools and learners to help create new visitor experiences, such as the new interpretation at Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens in Northumberland.
English Heritage offers free self-led trips to more than 400+ historic sites, and Discovery Visits to 27 sites, for all pre-booked learning groups. Any school can visit an English Heritage site for free on a self-guided visit. Discovery Visits cost £100 for an immersive hour-long session with an expert, offering memorable, hands-on experiences. Visits must be booked online at least 14 days in advance. For more information on the charity’s programme of school trips, to download teaching resources or to book, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/school-visits

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