Curriculum-linked tours of Liverpool for KS1 to 5

Date Posted: 19/06/2015

We spoke to Brilliant Liverpool Tours managing director Neil McDonald about the History, Science, Numeracy and Literacy that can be learnt on a guided tour of his city.

Can you give us some examples of the educational tours you run for students?

We offer a whole range of fun educational tours with a youthful twist. One of the most popular tours is a 90 minute guided walking tour; our Introduction to Liverpool the Capital of Culture which explores the history of the city with a nautical theme.

Many schools and universities arrive on a coach or they decide to use one of our vehicles and we are able to showcase our city on a panoramic sightseeing tour and include the ribbon of parks and gardens, the football clubs and of course Penny Lane, The Beatles and our rich music heritage, the list really is truly endless!

Other tours include visiting the Old Dock, usually coupled with a tour of the Maritime Museum and a visit to the International Slavery Museum, and a treasure hunt through the Albert Dock.

Our work is extremely diverse and we have in the past led specialised architectural tours and in one case a tour examining regeneration for a group of undergraduates studying Real Estate Management.

Tell me about the content of the different tours

The Introduction to Liverpool walking tour is 90 minutes and we usually split very large groups so that it’s manageable.

The tour explains the maritime history and explores the World Heritage Site as we walk through the Victorian Albert Dock complex past the new Liverpool Museum and through to the famous waterfront buildings. This tour will give the students the information they need to complete their worksheet.

This then gives the group the option to take a trip arranged by us on the Mersey Ferry with a stop at the U-Boat Story and we often take groups in to the museum especially if there is a specific study topic and there are lecture rooms available and we can arrange workshops and use multimedia maps to enhance the day.

The Albert Docks is a superb place to start a tour and we also regularly use the Skylark, which is a covered boat with plenty of room for a class of 30 children for a 45 minute guided tour bringing the docks and the maritime history to life.

Our Bridge to University Life tour links older children to one of the three universities in the city where there are now 75,000 students. We often show the students around and then we arrange to hand the group over to a student led event at one of the universities. We often then do a different event with the same group the following day especially if they are staying in university accommodation.

It’s extremely difficult to pin down a portfolio of all the tours we deliver and each tour tends to incorporate key elements depending on the time the group has, the time of year and the age of the students.

Why did you decide to start providing educational Brilliant Liverpool Tours for schools?

It started as we had already taken school groups and Scouts and Guides on battlefield tours and trips to Paris and several of those asked us to arrange tours in Liverpool when they returned to the UK.

The work is also interesting and rewarding and we always learn so much ourselves too.

How many educational tours do you run for schools?

We are now running educational tours for both UK and international schools and colleges throughout the year. It’s an area that we are extremely keen to grow and it’s also an area that we would like to work with schools and colleges to source young new, Tourist Guides especially those with language skills. Overall I would estimate that this year we will run in excess of 50 tours to students from all over the world.

How do you work with a school to design a specialised tour?

Normally the initial enquiry will explain how many students there are and the age range and we are usually told the subjects they are studying and the reason they have decided to visit Liverpool.

We ask lots of questions for example we need to know about any mobility issues and allergies.

Once we have agreed the content of the day and worked out the timings we will help the school with workbooks and suggestions for things to do to help the class prepare for their visit.

Who runs the tours?

We only use guides who have the skill set and the interest to work with schools, groups and educational tours and some of those guides already run learning sessions or are volunteers at places like the 16th Century Timber Framed Speke Hall, one of the cathedrals, or at Port Sunlight.

We also use some guides who are young retired History and Language teachers too, but the golden rule that we apply to any of our tours is to try and put the very best guide on that tour as they all have very different interests and many guides also specialise in certain subjects and areas within our region. 

What Key Stages are the tours aimed at?

Our tours can be tailored for all age groups from Early Years and Primary schools through to Key Stage 3. We also design tours specifically for University and College groups.

How many students can the tours accommodate?

We can arrange tours for any number of students; indeed we are currently working on a project for an International Choir Festival with 450 students visiting Liverpool in September 2016.

We will always split large groups and use sufficient guides to ensure that everyone has a brilliant day.

How do your tours of Liverpool develop skills required for the National Curriculum?

Liverpool is a brilliant place to ‘Learn Through Culture’ and the many museums and galleries and our tailored tours allow the students to focus on specific foundation subjects.

Using worksheets and multimedia, our structured tours inspire literacy, there’s lots of hands-on numeracy and lots of opportunity to introduce History in a first hand way and to enhance Science and learn new skills.

Liverpool is a truly superb destination for educational tours and just as importantly is a really fun and vibrant modern city that will inspire students.

For more information about Brilliant Liverpool Tours and their educational experiences visit,

School Travel Organiser's Guide