School visit FAQs

We would be delighted to welcome your students to The Museum of English Rural Life. We hope the following FAQs will be helpful when planning your visit.

What experiences do we offer?

Our interactive learning programmes offer a wide range of workshops for Foundation Stage/KS1 up to KS5. All sessions are linked to and help support the National Curriculum. We also offer the opportunity to visit the museum on a self-directed visit.

When can workshops be booked?

Workshops typically take place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Friday afternoons. The morning sessions tend to start at 10.00 am and the afternoon sessions start at 12.30 pm or 1 pm. We will always aim to finish our sessions by 2.30 pm so that you have time to get back to school.

How much do the taught sessions cost?

Our onsite facilitated learning workshops are £100 each. This is the equivalent of £3.33 per child for a class of 30 children.

Online sessions are £30 each (the equivalent of around £1 per child). These sessions last an hour and can be linked into your classroom.

Facilitated visits made as part of our Widening Participation and Access with target partner schools are free of charge and timings may vary. Please contact our Widening Participation Officer to enquire about eligibility.

Other options

Introduction to The MERL

We offer a 20 minute introduction to the museum which provides an insight into our fascinating collections, delivered by our enthusiastic team. A great way to begin your visit before heading off around the galleries. Cost £30 for a maximum of 15 pupils.

Self-directed visits

Learning groups are welcome to book with us for a free self-directed visit to explore the museum galleries and spaces at your leisure. Explore our range of downloadable learning resources that can support your visit.

Sensory equipment

We have a range of sensory packs available for groups. Please let the Learning Team know if you would like to borrow any of this equipment on your school visit.

Resources such as Social Stories and Sensory Maps are also available to help students prepare for their visit.

Is there a car park?

Parking in The MERL car park is limited, but we can reserve space for a small minibus and two cars in our car park, subject to availability.
With advance notice, we can reserve spaces for buses and coaches at the nearby Whiteknights campus of the University of Reading. This allows the group to be dropped off and collected (if the driver is not part of the group).

Can we travel by public transport?

For full details on how to get to The MERL, please visit our Getting Here page.

What do I do when I arrive with a group?

Before entering the building, it would be helpful if the group leader could report to the front desk where, for facilitated visits, you will be met by your sessional leader.

On entering the galleries, we would strongly suggest that you divide your members or students up into smaller groups and provide them with different starting points to ensure the galleries do not become overcrowded.

Guideline ratios for visiting schools

The behaviour of students at the museum is the responsibility of teachers and adult supervisors. Please ensure your group meets the minimum adult to pupil ratio for your Key Stage.

Foundation Stage – 1:6
Key Stage 2 – 1:10
Key Stage 3 – 1:10
Key Stage 4 – 1:15
Post-16 – 1:15

Is it possible to eat and drink inside the museum?

Eating and drinking is not permitted in the museum galleries (the spaces beyond the Welcome space, café and shop). Please ask a member of staff if you are not sure where this is. We ask that the group leader takes responsibility for ensuring their members or students group do not take food or drink into the galleries.

We have a large garden where picnics are welcome. We also have a studio space that can be used for snacks (pre-booking required).

Where can we leave bags and coats?

We would prefer it if you could leave all large bags in a designated location. Speak to the Learning Team to reserve a room.

If we have reserved the Learning Studio for your use, you are welcome to leave all coats and bags in this room, which can be locked during your visit. You may also use this room as a meeting room and discussion space and are permitted to eat and drink in here.

Museum facilities and access

The MERL is accessible to a wide range of visitors and we always strive to meet the access needs of everyone who visits us. Find out more on our Access page.

Health and safety

In the event of an emergency, please use the nearest fire exit and follow instructions from our Visitor Services Assistants. We recommend that you complete your own risk assessment on your preliminary visit to the museum. You might find our risk assessments a useful starting point:

Can we take photographs?

Photography is permitted throughout the galleries unless there is signage to say otherwise. Some of our collections are subject to copyright legislation, and this is indicated clearly.

Is drawing allowed?

Drawing is permitted in the galleries, using non-permanent materials (pencils) only. Please take care not to block walking routes for other visitors or leave bags and other items in the way.

Before you book – top tips

More information

Find out more about your visit and what the museum offers on our Visit Us page.

How do I book a school visit?

Please book via our school workshops pages or, for self directed visits and other enquiries, contact our Learning Team who will be happy to help!