A school day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Date Posted: 10/07/2013

Molecule man

We find out what a school visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in Wakefield consists of, from education coordinator Gary Cromack, who has been delivering workshops at the venue for over 20 years.

When I hear the sound of a coach weaving its way to YSP Learning (our education building), I imagine that the group of young people on board are already spotting the sculptures either side of the road, anticipating the day ahead.

YSP’s setting - with 500 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland and five indoor galleries - offers a range of opportunities for school groups to explore both the exhibitions of sculpture and the relationship between art and nature.

We begin the day with drawing to help the group become attuned to the beautiful landscape. This activity is a great way to find out about the sculptures and we encourage the use of different types of marks to show form, texture and volume.

Once they’ve got to know how the group ticks, our experienced artist-educators adapt the language they use when asking questions and always work closely with teachers to make sure they cover the content asked for.

The young people are full of their own ideas and have different responses to the sculptures - which is as it should be - and this is an important starting point for the afternoon sculpture-making session. The main group is divided into smaller groups and with a few key words to inspire making and creativity; they thoughtfully cooperate to build their sculptures. Using slices of logs, branches, pebbles, plastic tubing, cloth and clay, their imaginations are stimulated and work is made.

As the day comes to an end, I listen to the young people talk about what they have created and it’s brilliant to hear them confidently use words and concepts explained in the morning. Every group I meet leaves an impression on me and reminds me that with each workshop I deliver, I learn something too!

A school visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

A day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park can cover Art, Design, Mathematics (Key Stage 1 measuring, sequences), English (Key Stage 1 and 2 development of narratives, skills in listening, skills of developing critical thought), and Science (properties of materials, mini-beasts).

You can plan a day with an experienced artist-educator by booking a tour or workshop session, or by yourself, through a self-directed visit.

School group sizes

For tours and workshops, YSP can accommodate the following school group sizes per Key Stage:

•    Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 - up to 30 pupils plus staff.
•    Key Stage 4 and upwards, 20 students plus staff.

Workshops on a school visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park

School visiting the park can have a go at making large-scale sculptures in its open-air workshop.

Led by artists-in-education, workshop days are individually tailored to themes and topics relating to your school group's interests. They can also support the National Curriculum.

A typical day comprises two sessions. In the morning a guided tour explores works on display at YSP, providing stimulus for the afternoon practical session, which involves the use of a wide range of sculptural materials, processes and techniques.

Incorporate a guided tour within your school trip

Guided tours can focus on the outdoor collection, temporary exhibitions, tours of the Historic Landscape, Henry Moore in Bretton Country Park or any other particular themes and issues.?

YSP can design talks and lectures for the particular interests and needs of a school. Topics can range from an historical survey of exhibitions at the site, to issues surrounding particular exhibitions and contemporary sculpture, or alternatively offer an insight into contemporary art practice.

Self-directed visits?

The YSP Restaurant and Cafe offers a range of sandwiches and light lunches for students wishing to buy lunch during a self-guided visit.??

A £15 group booking fee is charged per 60 pupils/students, this fee includes parking for one coach or minibus(s) and the use of a lunchroom during term time depending on availability.

Henry Moore Totem head.

A £10 group-booking fee is charged to groups of 13 pupils/students or less and the booking fee is waived for SEN (special educational needs) groups. 

Useful contact:


Photo credits: Jonty Wilde.

School Travel Organiser's Guide