Onsite Visits FAQS

Find answers to your questions about our onsite school sessions.


What should I expect from the schools programme?

All our sessions are hands-on, interactive, and fun. We believe in child-led learning through exploration and discovery, purposeful engagement, and directed activities. So, expect your students to be moving around, taking part in discussions and having fun.

We will ask all of your accompanying adults to get involved with small group activities. This is because we understand the benefits of children learning alongside adults. Our research showed us that engaging, exploring, and responding to the sessions in the museum with an engaged adult offers students a powerful learning experience different from classroom learning.

All elements of your visit will focus on your chosen theme, using the museum’s unique resources to bring this to life.

What do school sessions include?

Our sessions are based the National Curriculum History Programme of Study for Key Stages 1 and 2. They include small group activities where your pupils will work with our learning volunteers and/or your adult helpers. All visits are suitable for up to 32 students and we offer free adult places.

We offer morning sessions, taking place on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. They start at 10am and finish at approx. 1.15pm.

The session includes:

  • An introductory and concluding talk from museum staff.
  • Three to Four different small group activities based on your chosen theme.
  • A break and lunch time.

Typically, activities run on a carousel system, with two different activities before the break and then two after, each approx. 30 mins long. Here is an example timetable:

What is the capacity for each day trip?

School trips are suitable for up to 32 students plus accompanying adults. Students will need to be equally divided into three or four groups, depending on the day’s theme. We recommend a 1:6 ratio for schools and offer free adult places at this ratio. We also offer free entry to all essential 1-to-1 adult carers.

What age range are the Museum school sessions suitable for?

The school sessions are aimed predominately at Reception to year 6 pupils. However, we can adapt them for other ages and abilities with enough notice and consultation. 


Can we look around the Museum galleries before or after our session?

Some of the sessions include time to explore certain galleries in the museum. However, the trip session does not include general access to the museum outside of the agreed session times.

If you would like to extend your day, you can choose to take your students on a self-led tour of the museum garden or use the grounds for artwork, but you would need to vacate the garden room with all your belongings first.

Access to the museum galleries is only possible during your structured school sessions. However, access to the garden and toilets will always be available to you. You can also visit the shop from 10am during your visit.

Is the Museum open to the public while the school programme is running?

Yes, in most cases general visitors and small groups can visit the Museum at the same time as schools. We monitor visitor numbers to make sure everyone’s visit is as enjoyable as possible. We will ask school groups to split into smaller numbers during their time in the galleries to make sure your experience with us is as comfortable as possible.

Does the school pay for the teachers/adult carers who are accompanying the visit?

 Adults are free at a ratio of 1:6 children and any 1-to-1 support is also free.

How many adults do we need to have with our students?

We recommend a ratio of 1:6. We reserve the right to refuse admission if you arrive with less than 1:8. Please contact the Learning Team if you are planning to visit with a different ratio.

Is it possible for the teachers/adult carers to leave the session/site while the school is in the session?

No, the teachers/adult helpers at a recommended ratio of 1:8 must supervise their students at all times during the visit. This includes supervision of break and lunchtime.

Do you provide a risk assessment, or can we visit to conduct one?

We offer two free passes per school to allow teachers to visit the Museum in advance and carry out their own risk assessment.

You can make arrangements for a pre-visit via the Learning Officer, but these can take place any time during opening hours (10am-4pm Mon-Sat). We will also include a copy of our general information sheet prior to your trip, which has lots of our Health and Safety information on it.

Do you have any special SEN resources?

Yes we do! We have some lovely sensory backpacks which schools/educators are welcome to borrow during your visit. These will just need to be signed out on the day, but if you let the Learning Officer know beforehand, they can arrange these to be ready for you.

We have created our own PECS style communication boards too, with pictures relating to all of our galleries.

You can also download our visual story of the museum before your visit takes place. 

We also have, on request, a special sensory blackout tent and some lovely optical fibre lights, sensory tiles and toys. These can be set up as and when needed, depending on space, time and availability.  

Please see our SEND page for more details:




How much does a school visit cost?

£6 per child for up to 32 students. ( So 32 Students would cost £192)
£25 extra per trip for any kitchen/ wattle and daub session. £100 minimum trip fee applies for smaller groups. 

Adults are free at a ratio of 1:6 children and any 1-to-1 support is also free.

Access to a designated area to eat lunch is included with every session booking.

What availability do you have?

School sessions run throughout the academic year during Dorset term time only. School sessions take place on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The Museum opens at 10am.

School trips start at 10am. There will be a 15 minute break included in the day, with a 30 minute lunch break at the end, should you wish to stay.

How do I book a school visit?

The best way to book a visit is to email our Learning Officer on: [email protected] . You can also call the Learning Officer on 01202 882533. The schools pages on our website contain a wealth of information about school visits including costs, session descriptions and key facts. Please note that due to high demand our school sessions can book up many months in advance.

How do we arrange payment for our visit?

Please contact the Learning Officer to arrange a provisional booking. When your school booking is confirmed, we will email you the dates and provide a timetable for the day. Invoices will be issued at the time of confirmation and payment due six weeks before your visit, at the latest. The invoice can be settled by bank transfer. Full details are included on the invoice.  Cancellations within 28 days of a confirmed booking will incur a 50% charge. Cancellations within 7 school days will incur a 100% charge. 


Are the children able to eat during the session?

Our sessions are busy and packed full of great activities for the children to do. For you and your class to get the most out of the sessions we need to maintain fairly strict start and finish times.  However, we do timetable in a 15 minute snack break after the first two activities, usually around 11.15am.


At this time, adults will be able to purchase hot drinks and/or food from our Tearoom, which is ajoining to the garden room, where your school will be based. 


If you have children or adults with specific requirements which means that they will need to eat during a session, please make the Learning Team aware of this at the point of booking.

We will be bringing packed lunches. Is there somewhere to eat these on site?

Yes, if you’ve booked a session your school will be based in our garden room, where some of your activities will take place, but will also be your base and eating area during your visit.  We just ask that you take all rubbish home with you and that you sweep up behind you on departure. (Dust pans and brushes will be provided!) 

Is the Museum accessible?

The Museum and shop are fully accessible. The school sessions take place across our site and various galleries and rooms. We have a lift to access the first floor, which can take five people, or one wheelchair user and two others at a time. See our accessibility page for more information.

Is there a shop at the Museum that children can use?

Yes, our Museum shop stocks a wide range of children’s traditional toys and goodies and is open Mon-Sat during Museum opening hours. The shop is open for non-Museum visitors too.

For school visits children will need to enter the shop in small groups of no more than 6. All children must be accompanied by at least one teacher/adult helper. The shop can be visited after your session. You will not be able to visit the shop during your school session.

Please remember that visiting the shop can be time-consuming, so please allow enough time after your trip if this is something you would like to do.

Do you cater for smaller groups like cubs or home learners

Yes, we do. There are a couple of options…

All small school/home learning/community groups (e.g. cubs/guides) incur a £100 minimum fee if you require learning team led, themed sessions. Or, at a rate of £6 per person, including adults. 

If you would like to come on a self-guided basis, without any facilitated sessions or talks. We offer a £1 discount for prepaid groups of 10 or more.

Depending on what date/time you are visiting, we may be able to arrange talks and tours at an additional cost, subject to staff/ volunteer availability.


How do you get to the Museum?

The Museum of East Dorset is located in the centre of Wimborne Minster – 20 minutes by car from Poole, 30 minutes from Bournemouth, 40 minutes from Salisbury and 40 minutes from Weymouth.

You will find us on the High Street, opposite the Minster church of St Cuthburga.

Our postcode is BH21 1HR and our what3words location is ///


By road, Wimborne Minster is located just off the A31. When travelling from the west, take the B3078; from the east, take the B3073 towards the town centre. From Poole and Bournemouth, you will enter the town from the south on the A341.

To find out about more, visit our directions page.

Where can the coach/minibus drop off and/or park?

As the Museum is part of the historic High Street, there is no parking at the Museum itself. Coaches and mini buses can drop-off directly outside the museum if there is space, or use one of the drop off points on West Borough and King Street and walk down. Coaches and mini buses can park in the public car park off Allenview Road.

Do you offer assistance with transport costs?

Many schools need to hire coaches to visit the Museum. While this is not a problem for some schools, we are aware that it prevents others from visiting us who may not be able to afford these costs.

We are currently looking into how we may be able to help with this in the future. We do have contacts with local trusts and charities which may be able to help with enough notice. Please ask the Learning Officer about this on [email protected]

We would like to arrive/leave at different times to those advertised. Is this possible?

We will always do our best to accommodate individual requests. However, there will be times when we have other activities/workshops/room hire taking place on site and needing the space. We will need to ensure there is adequate time to prepare for these and have staff available. 

What happens if we are running late? Will we still get our full session?

Please try to arrive on time and let us know if you are running late on the day as soon as you possibly can. On days where we have activities/workshops running, we will not be able to let any session overrun at the end to compensate for a late start to the session. We will do our best to ensure you still have a wonderful experience in the Museum with the time available.