History, Art and Business at Oxford Castle Unlocked

Date Posted: 03/02/2017

Oxford Castle Unlocked provides a wealth of educational activities for schools to enjoy. School Travel Organiser takes a look how a visit can tie in with National Curriculum.

Located in central Oxford, Oxford Castle boasts more than 1,000 years of history. When William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hasting in 1066, the site of the landmark was marked by the Normans as an ideal place for a motte and bailey castle. Not only was it used as a royal residence, but the castle was once a gaol, as well as being a centre for justice at one point.

Oxford Castle Unlocked is a visitor attraction that allows visitors and schools to explore the history of the castle, as well as to learn about the surrounding area.

The visitor attraction provides schools with guided tours led by costumed guides and a number of educational activities, as well as familiarisation trips for teachers.

A trip to Oxford Castle Unlocked will have pupils trying on chainmail and dressing up in historical costume. Resources, meanwhile, include maps, archaeological objects and documents, which can all be used to explore the history and well as attitudes towards crime and punishment throughout time.

What workshops can schools take part in?

Key Stage 1 and 2

King of the Castle looks at discovering the past of Oxford Castle in an interactive workshop that lets pupils use their senses to understand the past and present day differences.

Empress Matilda and the Great Escape aims to help develop pupils’ story telling skills, tying in neatly with the Literacy curriculum. The workshop involves dressing up in costumes and using original artefacts to recreate a famous character from the castle’s history.

Tying in with the curriculum for Art, Expressive Art looks at collage making and offers an opportunity to create an artistic response to what pupils experience during their visit regarding the castle and prison. Older pupils may wish to explore the emotions that their visit evokes, whilst younger pupils can illustrate some of the stories that the castle has.

A new workshop called Panoramic Prints takes inspiration from the views across Oxford from Castle Mount and St George’s Tower. During this workshop, pupils will use viewfinders to compose sketches, before making their own prints to take back to school where they will be encouraged to create a colourful panorama out of them.

Other Key Stage 1 and 2 workshops include Centuries of Crime and Punishment, Clues from the Past, Mary Blandy on Trial, Castle Challenge, Bird’s Eye Oxford, and Victorian Child Prisoners.

Key Stage 3, 4 and 5

The Changing Faces of Oxford allows students to investigate changes in land use in and around the Oxford Castle site, past, present and future.

The Crime in the Age of Industry looks at the links between crime and the social economic changes of the industrial era. Using observation and enquiry skills, students will be encouraged to come to their own conclusions.

Stand and Deliver! will help develop students’ creative skills using artefacts and the true story of Isaac Darkin, to create and perform a group poem about the Oxfordshire highwayman.

Key Stage 4 and 5

For GCSE students, the History Around Us workshop allows students to gather and analyse a variety of evidence at the castle, looking at change from the 12th century to present day.

Business Studies and Leisure & Tourism looks at the different businesses that are run within the castle, such as a hotel, the visitor attraction itself, an art gallery and a number of catering outlets.

Resources for teachers

Teachers are welcome for a familiarisation trip to Oxford Castle Unlocked.

Teachers looking for an off-site venue for INSET days can take advantage of Oxford Castle Unlocked’s free workshop taster to inspire Learning Outside the Classroom.

For more information visit www.oxfordcastleunlocked.co.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide