Northern Ireland

Hillsborough Castle: Scheme launched to help with cost of school trips for pupils across Ireland

Hillsborough Castle and Gardens
Hillsborough Castle and Gardens

An initiative to help with the cost of school trips for pupils has been launched at Hillsborough Castle.

The charity that runs the historic castle and gardens is offering free sessions at the attraction for primary and secondary schools, alongside travel bursaries for Northern Ireland schools to support the cost of school trips.

The scheme by the Historic Royal Palaces means schools can bring pupils to enjoy an interactive and immersive visit, without worrying about some of the costs associated.

The charity said “we know the impact that cost pressures can have on children and young people and want to contribute where we can”.

The programme includes sessions exploring the castle’s role as a place of political retreat, discussion and negotiation, from the 18th century to the present day.

Free sessions are available to book with applications open for travel bursary funding between June and December 2024.

Laura McCorry, head of Hillsborough Castle, said it will provide “an educational opportunity for schoolchildren across the island of Ireland and GB, which is engaging, inspiring and expansive”.

“We know the impact that cost pressures can have on children and young people and want to contribute where we can by providing this access to a space where young people can explore our shared history together,” she said.

“Throughout history, Hillsborough Castle has been a place where worlds and minds meet to find common ground.

“We’ve welcomed presidents, prime ministers, princes and princesses, but young people are our most important guests.

“We’re looking forward to sharing the story of this remarkable place and the people who made history here with more schools than ever before in 2024.”

The throne room at Hillsborough Castle
Throne Room The throne room at Hillsborough Castle

Maria Magill, learning producer at the venue, said it part of their “long-term ambition to increase access to our education programmes and facilities”.

“The sessions we run support the local curriculum and explore Hillsborough Castle’s role in the political realm throughout history, from the 18th to the 21st centuries,” she said.

“They cover Key Stage 2 with ‘power and politics’, Key Stage 3 with ‘the origins of Northern Ireland’, Key Stage 4 and 5 with ‘politics, power and the path to peace’, plus special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) sessions on ‘a working home’.

“There are also sessions on exploring life as a servant in an Anglo-Irish ‘big house’ and getting ready for a Victorian wedding.

“We know how beneficial spending time outdoors is to the health and wellbeing of young people, and that’s why we’re also delighted to be offering more schools free access to our gardens and estate.”

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