Heritage Open Days Teacher's Pack
The Civic Trust and English Heritage
Downloadable free from www.heritageopendays.org.ukeducationteachers.shtml
There is no denying the importance of a wellplanned day out. As the Civic Trust and English Heritage suggest, they are "among the pupils' most enriching and memorable experiences".
The suggestions here about the different types of activity and their crosscurricular nature are useful and link with more detailed case studies which are found in sections on Planning a Whole School Open Day, and Opening Doors in Your Community, both of which have useful hints and website references. The final section provides useful organisations and websites.
The pack acknowledges that the work students complete on site, if properly integrated into the curriculum with classroom study, need not be a questionnaire of things they have seen and may be more creative in order to engage them.
A case study on the "Spooker Prize", invented by teacher Sinead McCrystal of St Joseph's Boys' School in Derry, Northern Ireland, explains how a visit to a local graveyard was the basis for a creative storytelling project.
While the first three sections are generic, the section about planning the project goes into more detail about Heritage Open Days.
While Heritage Open Days is an ambitious project which clearly needs a lot of planning, it is inherently interesting. Official Heritage Open Days properties are only open for up to four days in September (which seems to be the wrong time of year for schools), but there does seem to be scope for organising visits at other times by private agreement.
The pack offers advice on planning visits and gives checklists to help teachers ask important questions, ranging from the mundane ("Are there any toilets?") to the official ("What is the insurance cover at the site?").
It stresses the importance of gaining the co-operation of colleagues, particularly senior management, and the practicalities of organising a trip or project.
Issues such as risk assessment (with a website address for DfES guidelines), facilities and access, pupilto- adult ratios and pre-visit and on-site organisation (including comprehensive checklists) are also discussed.
The resource itself and the list of websites will be of interest to novice and experienced teachers at all key stages who are thinking of organising a school visit as part of the curriculum.