Prestigious Learning award for Bristol Museum & Art Gallery

A team from Bristol Museum & Art Gallery have been awarded a prestigious education award in recognition of the work they do to inspire Bristol schoolchildren and other educational audiences in and around the city.

The museums’ Formal Learning Team has been recognised by Bishop Grosseteste University and the Heritage Education Trust by naming Bristol Museum & Art Gallery as a winner of the ‘Sandford Award for Heritage Education’.

The independently judged award is given to museums and heritage sites that are deemed to have high quality education programmes.

Assessor of the Sandford Award, Marion McAuley, said:

“The Formal Learning team strives to offer a programme of excellence to schools visiting the Museum. These engaging and well planned sessions are designed to offer a truly enriching experience for both pupils and teachers.”

Bristol Museum & Art Gallery is one of five museums run by the Culture Team at Bristol City Council. Education programmes are run by the Formal Learning team, across all council museum sites. The other sites are M Shed, Blaise Castle House Museum, The Red Lodge Museum and The Georgian House Museum. Over the last three years, these museums have attracted visits from 96% of the city’s Primary Schools, with the vast majority of schools visiting at least five times during this period.

School favourites at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery include the Discover Ancient Egypt workshop, for which the museum is recognised nationally for its collection of Egyptian artefacts and also its Discover Ancient Greeks workshop where pupils get to study Greek pottery. Rocks and Fossils, Evolution and Dinosaurs also remain popular choices for school bookings.

In November a special Dinosaur Takeover! will be taking place at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. The Formal Learning Team are working with experts from the University of Bristol to deliver a week long programme of Dino related activities and workshops to support teachers with their curriculum. During British Science Week in March, this event saw over 200 school children take part.

Other highlights to look forward to in the new academic year include ‘An Autumn of Archaeology’. Pupils can take a trip back through history to learn about the Anglo Saxons and glimpse the unique and dazzling Staffordshire Hoard as part of the Warrior Treasures touring exhibition running at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery from 22 October 2016 – 23 April 2017. During the same period, pupils can handle 700,000 year old flint tools and stone hand axes as part of the Stone Age to Iron Age workshops. A 20% discount is being offered for Teachers that book both activities on the same day.

Councillor Claire Hiscott, Cabinet Member for Skills and Education, said:

“The Sandford Award is a great achievement and one Bristol Museum & Art Gallery thoroughly deserves. Our museums are central to our city’s cultural offer and also play a huge role as centres for learning. The team’s work makes sure that our schools, home educators and all those involved in education have the chance to make the most of Bristol as a learning city.

During a museum learning session, children can handle real museums objects, step back in time with costumed role-play, meet experts in their fields and carry out special gallery activities tailored to age and curriculum needs. These exciting encounters can’t be recreated in the classroom and help to support parents and teachers with their learning agenda. Memories of a good school trip stay with us right through to adulthood and where possible I advise teachers to escape the classroom and take a visit to one of our museums.”

Moving beyond Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, school children can step back in time with facilitated learning sessions at the city’s historic houses. Experiences include a Victorian school day and toys workshop at Blaise Castle House Museum, role-play in the kitchen of a Georgian townhouse and the opportunity to take part in a Tudor portrait workshop at The Red Lodge Museum with its magnificent Oak Room.

Meanwhile M Shed has become a centre for learning about local history in the region, with Bristol-based workshops on the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Chocolate, Ships and Sailors and World War One and World War Two.

The education programme run by the Formal Learning Team extends beyond school visits. Projects in recent months and future growth areas include the delivery of Home Educator sessions for families that home school; partnership working with Children’s Centres and Early Years, staging Professional Development programmes for teachers, arranging events for Guides and Brownies and offering EFL (English as a Foreign Language) tours for Language Schools and groups of overseas students.

Full details of workshops and activities along with guidance on how to book can be found on the museum’s new learning webpages at

For latest information and special offers, Teachers can also sign up to the Teachers’ Newsletters issued by the museums learning team once a term. For further information please email or call the Formal Learning Team on 0117 922 3567