Planning a school trip this academic year? | The Mary Rose
Planning a school trip this academic year?
Learning | 20 Sep, 2022 | The Learning Team
Why visit the Mary Rose?

Working with teachers, we understand the huge effort of organising a school trip particularly in the current economic climate. However, the benefits of a school trip can reach far beyond the classroom and a one day trip. Tony, a retired teacher and one of our costumed volunteers, considers how the museum team can support visiting schools.

We have hundreds of school groups who come to visit the museum; many teachers choose from the range of taught sessions led by our expert education staff and volunteers. It makes for a very busy time in the Learning Centre teaching, for example, about the officers and crew, their diet, their health and using conflicting contemporary accounts to attempt to unravel the truth behind the sinking.

Some schools visit at the start of their topic, some in the middle and some at the end. Whatever stage they are at in their learning there is always something new to discover in a practical, engaging and exciting way. Where else can you work as a team to clean, load and “fire” a Mary Rose cannon? Though we are not allowed to use real gun powder!

For many of our younger visitors, it is often their first visit to a museum and their first visit to a museum that creatively uses light, sound and vision. On the ship they can see projected images of the crew at work. They hear the genuine ship’s bell sounding the time (capturing the exact sound the crew heard 500 years ago). They can touch and smell genuine Tudor rope. Henry VIII would have had the same smell sensation when he visited the ship in 1522.

So, what are the benefits of a school visit? Paul, a fellow volunteer, puts it very succinctly: “From the very start children are excited and engaged. They want to learn and are enthralled. They enjoy being involved. Questions come thick and fast.”

Without doubt, museums are exciting places to visit. They transform learning and enthuse pupils. On a daily basis we hear: “Wow”, “That’s so cool”, “Is that really Henry VIII’s ship?”, immediately followed by lots of questions. Their school topic has jumped out of a book or a computer screen and has become a real-life immersive experience.

A visit enriches the whole curriculum. Visitors of all ages generally arrive with history in mind but quickly realise that we are also a museum of science, materials, health, diet, weaponry and building design.

Pupils meet expert staff and volunteers and become experts themselves through the taught sessions and tours. They are motivated to learn and want to share their learning with others.

A visit puts all pupils on a level playing field. A visit challenges and inspires. It can raise aspirations and engage disengaged pupils. As pupils leave we often hear: “I want to work in a museum”, “I’m going to be an archaeologist”, “I’m going to be a historian”. In the jargon, it ‘narrows the gap’.

A visit improves relationships and develops social skills. Many of our taught sessions, such as the Tudor Gun Drill or Henry’s Heroes, involve co-operation. Teachers and adult helpers can also have fun dressing up or loading the gun – it’s not just for the students! Out of the usual school environment pupils can thrive and rise to the occasion, raising their self-esteem. Teachers are often surprised when a ‘quiet’ pupil in class volunteers to be the gun captain or describes a battle plan to the rest of the class.

Finally, always take advantage of the expertise of the staff and volunteers. We are all there to help, answer questions and enhance your visit.

Our School and College Workshops page has more information on what we can offer.

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