Case Study: Warwick Castle

Date Posted: 07/08/2015

School: Benhall Infant School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
Subject: History
KS: Foundation and KS1
Number of pupils: 200

Spectacular birds of prey, suits of armour and ‘meeting’ Henry VIII were among many experiences that made a big impression on pupils at one of the largest castles in the UK.

A castle always provides an atmospheric and inspirational backdrop for an educational visit, and with more than 1,100 years of history Warwick Castle boasts a wealth of activities and attractions, including the world’s largest working siege machine.

The education programme has been planned in conjunction with teachers to meet the needs of pupils and match the curriculum across all Key Stages, and teachers can choose from an extensive programme of tours, talks and workshops.

A total of 200 pupils from Benhall Infant School visited the mighty castle. Teacher Alice Branco explained: “This trip was a part of our Land of Make Believe topic.

We wanted to explore different places and explore the people who lived there. We thought a castle would be an amazing experience for the children, many of whom, had never been to one before. Warwick Castle ticked all of the boxes of things that we wanted from the trip.”

Primary school sessions

Primary school sessions include Meet the Monarchy, linked to hierarchy and classification. Pupils are introduced to the different monarchs and monarchies, from Richard III to Queen Elizabeth II, to discover how they influenced Warwick Castle, the funny and gory stories behind each king and queen and why they are important to us today.

For KS1 and KS2 The Kingmaker takes students on a journey through Medieval life, which includes uncovering the secrets of the battlefield. Events include the impressive birds of prey display with vultures and eagles flying from the castle ramparts.

Alice said: “We watched the falconry exhibit and explored the different areas of the castle. Some classes participated in different workshops that were going on. Others walked the battlements and enjoyed the view from the top. We walked around The Kingmaker exhibit which helped show how life would have been when the castle was built and used as a castle. The children loved seeing the wax figures, these promoted lots of questions.”

Warwick Castle’s centrepiece is the magnificent Great Hall. It includes a huge cauldron known as ‘Guy’s Porridge Pot’, named after the legendary Saxon hero, Guy of Warwick. About 500 years old, it was used to cook stew for the castle’s garrison of soldiers. Other exciting artefacts include various suits of armour and two pristine pieces of equestrian armour.

“We enjoyed the amount that there was to see,” added Alice. “The Great Hall offered lots of learning opportunities. The children also enjoyed seeing the tapestries and the Henry VIII statues. We enjoyed our time and would recommend the castle for an educational trip.”

A new attraction for 2015 is the Time Tower, which is open daily and takes groups on a 1,100 year journey through the castle’s rich and colourful history.

Pupils will meet characters from the past as they travel through time on an immersive multimedia experience

Back in the classroom

After the trip, the pupils from Benhall Infant School followed up on what they had learnt with an Art session in which they made their own castle before evaluating the variety of construction kits and resources they had used. The next topic of study for the class also led on naturally from the visit.

“Following our visit, our Reception class began working on kings and queens,” Alice said. “The children remembered the Henry VIII statue with his wives which they found fascinating. Other years also looked at the monarchy, going through the ages.”

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