Schools, Learning and SEND*

Updated 08/01/21

During the UK’s second period of lock down, the government has issued the following advice:

‘The guidance for full opening: schools, sets out the department’s position in relation to educational visits. In line with this guidance, providers should not offer overnight or residential trips for children.

 The government will keep this position under review and continue to be guided by the best scientific and medical advice to ensure that the right decisions are taken at the right time.

 The government also advises against any overseas trips for children under 18 organised by educational settings.

 Providers can, however, offer non-overnight domestic educational visits or trips. This should be done in line with protective measures, such as keeping children within their consistent group, relevant COVID-secure travel arrangements and the COVID-secure measures in place at the destination. Providers should consult the health and safety guidance on educational visits for advice on undertaking risk assessments to ensure educational visits can be done safely. As part of this risk assessment, providers will need to consider what control measures need to be used and ensure they are aware of wider advice on visiting indoor and outdoor venues.

 However, providers should also check whether additional restrictions apply in their area by visiting the local COVID alert levels guidance. Where providers operate in an area that has a ‘very high’ alert level, they should not travel outside this area for the purpose of an education visit. Providers should also not travel into an area with a ‘very high’ alert level for the purpose of educational visits.’

There may be a delay in the return of school visits to museums. Schools will be catching up with pupils for many weeks after their return to school, and their plans for this academic year and next will be in disarray. Once they do start to book visits again, schools are likely to also require specific risks assessments or assurances from museums that hygiene, cleaning and social distancing standards meet those set out for schools.

For students who are in SEND education, those who have additional access needs, or are part of a shielded group, you may need to adopt different methods to work with them.

It is also likely to be a long time before informal learning programmes, such as talks and tours, craft activities and object handling sessions can happen at your museum. There may be alternative ways to deliver this part of your programme. For example, you could provide craft activities to complete at home or invite visitors to take part in an online talk.

You may need to reduce the number of hands-on and interactive resources you have available in the museum and introduce more regular cleaning. Some visitors could also be reluctant to use audio guides after reopening.

Coach tours and group bookings are unlikely to restart until 2021as uncertainty about demand and the lead-in time required to plan them will make organisers cautious.

 *special educational needs and disability


Questions to ask yourself

  • What can you do to reach out to schools in a non-contact way? Do you have loan boxes or virtual teaching resources online available?
  • If you are able to provide webinars or online videos for schools, have you considered what format this may take? Will you feature an expert, interactive content, or formal lessons? Have you considered working with classes to help them build their own museums in their schools, or teaching students how to collect oral histories?
  • Will you provide an opportunity for viewers to make a donation on your online offer?
  • How are you marketing to schools? What safety features do you need to highlight?
  • Do you need to implement stricter hygiene protocols, and will you need training for your staff and volunteers on this?
  • How can you adapt your informal learning activities for smaller groups of people, meeting the social distancing needs?
  • Is there a way technology can help? For example, can you replace face-to-face guided tours with a downloadable recording that people can access on a Smart phone?
  • What non-contact resources do you have available for SEND and shielded groups?
  • What strengths can you gain from an improved virtual presence, and how can that become more accessible?

Learning is at the heart of our museums and heritage attractions…

its impact in our society is wide-reaching and incredibly valuable.”



Learning resources

Digital Culture Network (DCN) – delivering online webinars and talks

Collections Trust – cleaning collections

Guidance for educators from Group for Education in Museums (GEM)

South East Museum Development’s SEND Toolkit (March 2018)

Reaching new audiences and inspiration for your online work

Tips on creating resource boxes and other learning sessions

Tips for developing online learning resources for schools

Tips for developing loan boxes
Appendix 10

Useful guide to all aspects of learning delivery from Clore Space for Learning

Information for schools

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