Our Country Lives logoImportant notice

As the Museum is currently closed for redevelopment we are not able to offer the schools programme described below. Our schools provision is under review and details of how schools will be able to engage with the new museum will be available in 2016.

We may still be able to provide limited, bespoke activities for school groups during the closure period, so please contact or call 0118 378 8660 to discuss your requirements.


Schools Programme

The Museum of English Rural Life offers an imaginative, experiential programme that brings excitement and interest to a museum visit. We believe that a museum visit should be cross-curricula and 'not just history'. Our collections and garden allow us to offer a school programme that explores objects and collections covering National Curriculum science, maths, art and literacy, as well as history.

We offer a schools programme comprising:

  • Education Officer/Artist led sessions, Teacher led visits, a programme of seasonal and special events.
  • Programmes at Key Stage 1 – 3 exploring National Curriculum art, science, history, literacy and garden activities
  • Resources and trails to support your visit – Children can follow the museum 'rat trail', or the History of the World 'Relic Trail'

Planning your visit:


Sessions for schools

EvacueesThe children's war: evacuees in the countryside,

  • KS2, years 5-6 & KS3, year 9
  • History, Art & Design 
  • 2 hours 
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

Following the enormous popularity of the session run in conjunction with 'The children's war' exhibition in Autumn '09, we have developed this hands-on session. 



A cow grazing in a fieldWhere does food come from? 

  • Reception/Year 1
  • Science/Art & Design
  • up to 2 hours 
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

Farmyard puppets introduce this fun session for little ones as we discuss healthy diets, the food we eat and where it comes from. We then make colourful cards using printing blocks from the museum's collection and then move on to make brass rubbings of the farming cycle – our large engraved steel ring which tells the story of the seasons.


Three little pigs school sessionThe 3 Little Pigs

  • Year 1 - 2
  • Science/Literacy
  • up to 2 hours
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

Follow the story of the 3 Little Pigs in this combined Science/Literacy session. Pupils explore the different materials as they are introduced in the narrative and then handle real museum artefacts, as we explore further different materials and their properties.


Loaves of wholemeal bread

Where does food come from?

  • Years 3 - 6
  • Science/Design & Technology/History
  • 2 hours
  • £95 per session  (maximum of 30 pupils)

In this session, we explore healthy diets, what makes up a healthy diet and where food comes from. Pupils handle dairy artefacts and take part in a butter making session, which can be followed by a tasting if requested (the museum will provide supermarket-bought wholemeal bread for the class to try a piece of bread & butter, using their butter). After this, we make brass rubbings of the farming cycle – the museum's large engraved steel ring which tells the story of the seasons and farming in the past.


Schools feltmakingFabulous Felt

  • Years 3 - 6
  • Science/Art & Design
  • 2 hours
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

We go from fleece to fibre in this interactive session, finding out where wool comes from, examining different types of fleece and how to make material. Pupils then make their own felt wall hanging to take home.



Victorian life in the Palmer house

  • Years 5 - 6
  • History
  • 2 hours
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

In this session, we explore the Victorian built environment of the museum buildings or 'The Palmer House'. The house was designed and built for Sir Alfred Palmer, of Huntley & Palmers, by the celebrated Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse.

Children become history detectives as we explore the buildings looking for clues about who built, owned and lived in the house.


Mr Palmer's Victorian Christmas Huntley & Palmer Christmas image

  • KS2, years 5-6
  • History, Art & Design
  • 2 hours
  • £95 per session (maximum of 30 pupils)

Once again we're offering schools a chance to book our popular Victorian Christmas sessions. This session explores what Christmas might have been like for the family of Alfred Palmer (of Huntley & Palmer's) who owned the house in which the Museum is located. Children get to explore Victorian traditions; make a Christmas card/decoration based on H&P archive material; make a Christmas pudding pot pourri using traditional spices; explore traditional recipes; play traditional parlour games

Sessions will run from last week in November through until the end of term and are bookable now. Don't delay your booking as we were fully booked last year and had to turn away lots of schools!


Information for schools


MERL garden in JuneThe Education Studio and Cloakroom can be reserved for you to eat lunch and store bags. We are happy to provide jugs of water and cups for the children at either snack or lunchtime.

Children can let off steam in our fully enclosed and accessible garden, where there are also picnic tables.



We are committed to supporting visits for children with special educational needs. Please discuss your requirements when you make your booking.

Accompanying adults

The Museum of English Rural Life operates the following minimum ratios:

  • Key Stage 1 1 adult: 5 pupils
  • Key Stage 2 1 adult: 10 pupils
  • Key Stage 3 1 adult: 10 pupils

Risk Assessments & First Aid

The museum and the schools programme have been fully risk assessed. We do ask that all teachers complete their own risk assessment prior to a school visit to the Museum.

Two members of staff are qualified First Aiders and there is a First Aid box available at Museum Reception. We ask that teachers bring a First Aid box with them on their visit, just in case!

Things to do now

  • Book your visit
  • Join our schools mailing list
  • Find out more about our Collections

Contact us

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See also


"I learnt a lot about Victorian life and tecnology. My favourite part was looking inside Mr Palmer's house." Pupil from Southcote Primary School, Reading


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