What schools can learn from a visit to Bletchley Park

Date Posted: 22/06/2017

STO looks at what pupils can learn from visiting the home of the codebreakers, Bletchley Park, and why it can tie in with the National Curriculum for various subjects.

Bletchley Park, in Buckinghamshire, is known for being the base where many intelligent minds worked to break the Enigma code of the Germans during World War Two.

Among these geniuses was Alan Turing who developed the first computer system in order to do so. His work, along with his fellow codebreakers’ work, changed the face of technology as we know it today and ultimately it had a huge impact on winning the war.

What went on at Bletchley Park remained a secret for years, with workers having sworn to secrecy about the goings on that took place. However in the 1970s a book was released which revealed the information to the world and is why we know what we do today. 

Bletchley Park is now open to the public and is a popular tourist attraction. It also has a huge school offering.

We find out what Bletchley Park has to offer schools

Bletchley Park’s educational offerings can tie in with various subjects, including Science, Maths, History, Computing and Technology.

The museum offers fascinating artefacts from World War Two and pupils can even see and have a go with an Enigma machine which was used by the Germans to create their secret wartime code.

Understanding how the code worked and why it was used can filter into an array of subjects and could be beneficial for pupils. The vital lessons that can be learnt from visiting will engage pupils with LOtC, as they will be able to place themselves in the very spot where history took place.

Bletchley Park mansion

Pictured: Bletchley Park mansion

For Key Stages 1 and 2

A visit with Key Stage 1 and 2 groups can include a guided tour of the grounds which will point out areas of interest such as Alan Turing’s cottage. A workshop session of your choosing, including Maths, History and Computing topics, will also be available as well as self-guided time for school groups to explore Bletchley Park for themselves, taking in the huts, the museum and the mansion.

Workshops include Careless Talk Costs Lives which looks at the lives of the people who worked on the code and how they were able to keep it a secret; and the Codebreaking Challenge which involves pupils learning how to break coded messages.

Key Stage 3 +

For Key Stage 3 to 5 students, a similar itinerary can be arranged. Workshops that are available for Secondary students include Codes and Ciphers which looks at mathematical encryption and encoding; Cyber Secrets, which involves interactive games and activities for students to examine the lessons learned from the codebreakers and how they can be related to present day; and Mathematics of Enigma, which helps students understand the Maths behind the codes.

What to spot on a visit

On a visit pupils should look out for Alan Turing’s Office, located in Hut 8, the interactive games in each hut (especially in Hut 11 which is where the codebreaking computer would have been in World War Two), and Museum Block B where you’ll discover Enigma Machines and parts of the original codebreaking computer.

For more information on what schools can do at Bletchley Park, visit www.bletchleypark.org.uk.

School Travel Organiser's Guide