#SENDinMuseums – Make the most of your visit | The Mary Rose
#SENDinMuseums – Make the most of your visit
Learning | 15 Nov, 2022 | The Learning Team
Museums are a fantastic learning resource for people of all ages and abilities.

Hands-on sensory learning is a common feature of modern museums and staff work hard to make things as accessible as possible. Our research into the barriers to visiting museums shows some teachers are concerned about bringing pupils with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) out of school. This blog will help you get the most out of your visit to the Mary Rose with young people with SEND. 

There is so much to gain from learning outside the classroom in academic terms but also to improve social skills, encounter new experiences and have fun! We are always looking for ways to make things easier for children who may struggle with an out-of-school visit. In 2006 we wrote a guide to ‘Going to a Museum’ for the National Autistic Society.

Preparation can help keep stress to a minimum. School staff can come for a recce visit in order to anticipate sensory difficulties. Online resources include a symbol-supported text introduction to the Mary Rose and a visual story so anxious pupils will know what to expect from their visit.

On the day, for pupils who find themselves overwhelmed, we have a space in our Learning Centre to have a break or some quiet time.  Some children are nervous about the dark or noise so we offer ear defenders or lanterns, like they had on the ship, which make it more of an adventure!   Staff can help you avoid areas which may cause a negative reaction. For pupils nervous about human remains or models, we offer a mannequin-free route around the museum. 

We adapt our workshops to suit individual and extra needs.  We use a variety of hands-on resources to suit different learners including real and replica artefacts. Themes include rich and poor and then and now. We use sorting cards printed on cream paper to alleviate difficulties with dyslexia, and cards using symbols and images for those who access learning in that way.  Every child matters to us, and we try to adapt a workshop in a general way rather than singling children out. For the best experience, let us know in advance but we are very flexible in the moment! Our staff and volunteers are trained in inclusivity and will do their best to make the visit a positive experience.  

We can offer bespoke sessions to suit your learners. One special school requested a careers session for their KS3 pupils. One said: “It would be a nice job because I thought it was a lovely place and I liked the ship.”

Once a month, the museum has a relaxed opening morning where the lights are brighter and sound effects reduced for people who have difficulties with orientation or dark lighting.  

There are plenty of accessibility measures in place for all visitors. For example, for visually impaired visitors we have an artefact handling box and tactile pictures around the museum. More information can be found here: