"We use Quarry Bank Mill as a case study for the Industrial Revolution, and so they've already studied inventions, weaving, cottage industries, but once they've been here they really thrive. There's all sorts of things you just can't cover in class: they get a real sense of conditions, and can relate it to people their own age. They remember the gory details about arms being ripped off in the looms (my favourite bit!), and begin to see how the settlement came about. It's amazing how much more confident they are back in school.
Adding the textile workshop is an excellent idea. We offer GCSE textiles, but boys don't often go for it. Here, everyone enjoys trying out the techniques and no one feels intimidated or silly as they can see it's structured around the historical context. And the less academically able get a chance to shine. You see a different side to everyone, and because we bring students from across the five history sets, you see them working side by side with someone they would not usually talk to. It's a really important experience for them at a significant time in their school lives when they're starting to think about options."