There are loads of destinations that let teachers in free to prepare for school visits. Tessa Bartley reports
If you want to be prepared for a school trip, it's best to pay a visit in advance. Many museums, galleries, and theatres have free previews for teachers that give you a chance to swot up on the subject and get a few handy teaching tips. Here are a few we've found for you: derby This year, The Derby Playhouse is scheduled to stage Can't Pay? Won't Pay! by Dario Fo (Jan 29-Feb 26), Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller (March 5-26), Company by Stephen Sondheim (April 16-May 21) and Shakespeare's Romeo Juliet (May 28-July 2).
Free tickets for the first weekday preview of each. Post-show discussions with cast and director and backstage tours open to all. Free of charge.
Derby Playhouse Eagle Centre, Theatre Walk, Derby, DE1 2NF Contact: Kim Miller, education manager; tel 01332 547222; www.derbyplayhouse.co.ukisis.html
On view at the Turner House Gallery are images by Taiwanese photographer Chien-Chi Chang and planned for February is the work of Welsh artistPeter Finnemore. Previews include an exhibition tour and presentation of how the show can be used in teaching. Education pack available.
Turner House Gallery Plymouth Road, Penarth, CF64 3DM Contact: Lisa Edgar, education development manager; tel 029 2066 8695; www.ffotogallery.orgturnerhouse
The Whitechapel gallery hosts a regular Teachers Ideashop and various workshops, aimed at staff throughout east London. Previews, which include discussion of follow-up activities, are held before each new exhibition.
The next, featuring the work of multi-disciplinary artists Neil Cummings and Marcia Lewandoska, is scheduled for March 24. Teaching resources also available.Whitechapel Art Gallery 80-82 Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX; tel 020 7522 7855; www.whitechapel.org
Tying in to the Pulp Fantasy exhibition, which runs from February 12, this amazing centre, in a converted church, will run workshops that cover paper weaving, decoupage and jewellery in 2005. Teachers' twilight sessions offer advice on lesson and trip planning, and pupil worksheets. Curriculum support packs can be borrowed.
Visual Arts Centre St John's Church, Church Square, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, DN15 6TB Contact: Sarah Curtis, education and outreach officer; tel 01724 297072; www.northlincs.gov.uk20-21
Private views for teachers and lecturers feature presentations by curators.
Education staff are available throughout the evening to discuss the VA's programmes. Next event, on April 15, focuses on international arts and crafts. Booking is essential. You will need to take proof of your teacher status with you on the day.
Victoria and Albert Museum Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL; tel 020 7942 2211; www.vam.ac.uk
You must book for the Glasgow Science Centre, but free entry to the science mall gives you unlimited time to explore the area and plan your school visit. Free activity sheets, focusing on parts of the body, plus inspiring science and physics used to diagnose illness.
Glasgow Science Centre 50 Pacific Quay, Glasgow, G51 1EA; tel 0141 420 5000; www.glasgowsciencecentre.orgeducation
Teachers can visit the Magna Sceince Adventure Centre free at any time.
You'll need school identification - headed notepaper will do - or proof of your teacher status. Free education resource pack, which can be downloaded from the website, includes information, maps, curriculum links and key questions for the exhibits.
Magna Science Adventure Centre, Sheffield Road, Templebrough, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, S60 1DX; tel 01709 720002; www.visitmagna.co.uk
Set up in 1985, "Take one Picture: North, South, East West" encourages primary schools to use musuem resources. Two of the three galleries in the partnership are now offering interactive schemes for their local schools.
Teachers' previews for the Stuff of Life exhibition is scheduled for January 25-26 in Bristol, and April 21 and 28 in Newcastle. The preview includes a gallery talk, the chance to use the interactive activities in the resource area and to talk to the museum staff about your school visit.
Free teaching packs available; teachers' notes can be downloaded from the website.
The City Museum and Art Gallery Queens Road, Bristol, BS8 1RL
Contact: Donnie Houser, learning support officer; tel 0117 922 3658.
The Laing Art Gallery, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AG.
Contact: Julie Watson, learning officer; tel 0191 211 2104; www.takeonepicture.orgnesw
Museum is something of an understatement for this area's living museum. It is more of a vast simulated community of historical living. You can borrow an educational resources box. Groups of more than 20 get a costumed guide.
Teacher seminars are held twice yearly, usually in September and April: a guided tour and discussion of follow-up ideas.
The Black Country Living Museum Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands, DY1 4SQ Contact: Seminar Bookings; tel 0121 5579643; www.bclm.co.uk
English Heritage has 400 historical sites across the country. School visits are free but you must book in advance. You will receive a permit for a free preview. Free booklets and pupil activity sheets are available and many sites will send you free booklets after booking.
23 Savile Row, London W1S 2ET Contact: Ann Todd, head of education; tel 020 7973 3385 www.english-heritage.org.uk
If your venue offers free preview visits for teachers and you would like to be mentioned in this column, please send information to email@example.com. Deadline for March 11 issue is February 4