It’s my job to ensure that schools have the best experience that they can whilst on site at one of our palaces. I work to ensure that sessions and resources are developed and delivered to the highest standard, meeting curriculum needs but also providing an inspiring experience for students. We offer sessions for Key Stages 1-5 and for students from special schools.
Our sites provide a unique opportunity for students to experience ‘history where it happened’ through exploring the historic buildings and gardens that have been home to many monarchs and where key decisions have been made that have shaped the course of this country’s history for the past 1000 years. Key to engaging students of all ages are the stories and characters that provide the jumping off point for exploration, debate, drama and creativity.
Historic Royal Palaces offers a wide range of sessions for schools that focus on cross-curricular learning as well as in-depth study topics. Where else can students experience at first-hand the thrill of performing their own sonnet in the Great Hall at Hampton Court Palace where Shakespeare’s theatre company once performed to James I?! Or solve maths problems similar to those faced by members of Henry VIII’s Board of the Green Cloth?
It’s important that our sites reflect key moments in history and that this resonates with students when they visit. The use of specialist costumed educators helps to create an authentic and immersive learning experience. Take Charles I for example, what better way to get inside the mind of a king - to understand what motivated him - than to interview him in the very spot where he was executed in view of crowds of onlookers! Debates such as these give students the chance to make comparisons with modern day events and to discuss key issues around ethics, morality and legal transparency.
One of my priorities this year has been to develop our SEND schools programme offering multi-sensory sessions to students from special schools and units. I worked with SEND specialists and teachers to create a programme that aims to empower students to use their senses to explore new historic environments and to support the development of social and emotional skills. We now offer sessions for students with moderate, severe or profound and multiple learning difficulties to experience our sites at a level that best suits their learning needs. SEND sessions are available at the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace and Kensington Palace.
As a former teacher, I fully understand the need to connect with other teachers to enable the sharing of ideas and good practice and to highlight the opportunities for enrichment that a visit to one of our sites provides. Our team run a Teacher Network and offer regular teacher CPD and familiarisation days in order to support teachers to enhance and enrich their practice.
What I enjoy most is playing constant witness to the fact that a visit to one of our sites can provide lasting memories and unique opportunities to experience history in a way that is tangible and real. Through our schools programme, we hope that teachers and students are also inspired to learn more when back in the classroom and for years to come – perhaps even for a lifetime!