The Isle of Wight: The island classroom

Date Posted: 29/07/2015

Pictured: J Class Regatta boats sailing near the Isle of Wight (Photo Credit VisitEngland/Jeremy Cangialosi)

Children of all Key Stages can enhance their knowledge and understanding of topics covered in the National Curriculum by visiting the Isle of Wight.

Recently the island hit the headlines after school boy Jamie Bishop unearthed a 122 million-year old dinosaur fossil whilst visiting on a residential school trip.

Fortuitously, this major discovery has coincided with the release of We know Education, a new brochure by Visit Isle of Wight. The publication provides information about local companies that offer educational resources on the island – from attractions to entire towns.

It demonstrates how even the ferry trip to and from the Isle of Wight can be used as an educational tool, with ferry companies offering studies in topics including Physics and Geography.

The brochure also recommends lesson plans for the Arts, Geography, Palaeontology, PE and Ancient History.

Visit Isle of Wight has also launched a new website of educational trip ideas, which provides learning resources like worksheets and itinerary planners. 

Here are a few of the top educational attractions for Key Stages 1 to 4 students on the island.

Carisbrooke Castle

Schools visiting Carisbrooke Castle near Newport will learn about the domestic side of castle life as well as its role as an Anglo-Saxon stronghold.

Teachers can book a guided tour, which will cover a number of curriculum links for pupils studying History, Geography and English. These include the similarities and differences between ways of life in different time periods (Key Stage 1 History,) the development of the church, state and society in Britain (Key Stage 3 History,) and the strategic importance of the castle (Key Stage 3 Geography.)

Teachers can also book a hands-on discovery visit led by costumed experts who will actively engage with the students.

The I’m the King, get me out of here! discovery visit lasts for one hour and 15-minutes and is suitable for Key Stage 2 and 3 History pupils. The session involves students helping the King’s servant devise an escape plan for the imprisoned King Charles I in 1648.

Additionally, the War and Power discovery visit will give pupils the chance to handle weapons and artefacts and try on armour.

Dinosaur Isle

Dinosaur Isle in Sandown is home to around 30,000 geological specimens reflecting the island’s geological history.

Schools are able to book a museum talk and fossil handling session, which ties in to the context of Earth Sciences within the National Curriculum. The talk lasts approximately 30-minutes and covers topics such as rocks, fossils, dinosaurs and the changing landscape. At the end of the talk, students have the option to handle fossils.

To ensure that all of the students get an opportunity to handle the fossils, the capacity of a talk is 40 pupils. Larger groups are split into two and if the school is going on a field trip to St. Catherine’s Point, the museum may be able to give the talk on site.

Dinosaur Isle also offers Investigating Coasts, a theoretical and practical based workshop for Geography students.

Pupils will participate in a presentation about the eroding coastline of the Isle of Wight and learn about the measures that have been taken to slow the pace of the erosion.

They will then visit Ventnor where they will see a number of coastal defences designed to combat the geological problems on the coastline. 

Dinosaur Isle also provides a number of free activity worksheets which can be downloaded here or collected at the museum’s entrance.

Osborne House

Schools visiting Osborne House in East Cowes will receive an insight into the history of Queen Victoria’s holiday retreat.

Students taking a self-guided visit will explore the house, grounds and the Swiss Cottage museum where they will see thousands of natural history specimens, fossils, and antiquities.

A visit to Osborne house has numerous links with the National Curriculum including a local history study which extends pupils' chronological knowledge beyond 1066 (Key Stages 2 and 3,) using the gardens to learn about different habitats (Key Stage 1 to 3 Science,) and using the house and grounds as inspiration for future work (Key Stage 2 and 3 Art.)

Osborne House

Pictured: Osborne House, Isle of Wight (Photo Credit: VisitEngland)

In addition to visiting these venues independently, teachers can also book a number of bespoke educational packages designed by Education Destination. These incorporate visits to local attractions across multiple days.

Geography Galore

Geography Galore is a four day tour suitable for Key Stage 2, 3 and 4 pupils studying human and physical Geography. The educational trip begins in Southampton where pupils will sail along a ria, (a former valley that was submerged by a rise in the sea level,) created by the last ice age meltwater and will pass natural features such as mud flats, sandbanks and eroded cliffs. They will also see human features including docks, harbours and an oil refinery.

The tour includes a study of coastal erosion at amusement park Blackgang Chine, fossil hunting on Compton Beach, a study of the sea defences at Ventnor and a selection of geography related activities at Robin Hill Country Park.

STEM Starter

STEM Starter lasts for five days and is designed for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Students will visit local attractions including the STEM Centre at IW College – one of the UK's most advanced STEM teaching and resource centres. The pupils will witness STEM in real world environments before engaging with practical experiments inside the labs.

There will also be the opportunity to talk to STEM careers advisors and ambassadors from local technology, electronics and aerospace employers.

Island History Tour

The Island History tour lasts for five days and is suitable for lower and upper Key Stage 2 History students. The tour includes visits to Dinosaur Isle, Blackgang Chime, Carisbrooke Castle, Osborne House, the Isle of Wight Steam Railway and the Model Village in Godshill.

Pupils will learn about topics such as dinosaur and fossil collections, coastal erosion and Victorian history.

For more information visit To request the Visit Isle of Wight We know Education brochure visit

School Travel Organiser's Guide