Press Releases

Big Pit gets top marks for Educational Visits

The outstanding education provision at Big Pit: National Coal Museum has been recognised by the awarding of two major awards.

The museum, which greets around 60,000 school visitors annually, has achieved the Learning Outside the Classroom quality badge and has had its Sandford Award, which was first awarded in 2005, renewed.  The award, which is presented by the Heritage Education Trust, recognises quality and excellence in the education service at an historic site.  Big Pit is one of only two museums in Wales to achieve the Sandford award this year.

Big Pit was presented the Sandford Award by Loyd Grossman at a prestigious ceremony in the Houses of Parliament, in the presence of Speaker of the Houses of Commons, John Bercow, and MP for Torfaen, Paul Murphy.

Big Pit has scooped these awards for its excellent experience-based education programme, which includes taking visitors 300ft underground to explore the workings of a real coalmine, guided by real ex-miners who recount their own experiences of working underground.

The underground experience is strengthened by world-class Museum exhibitions and interactive experiences around the rest of the Big Pit, including a state-of-the-art multi-media underground simulation, where visitors can learn about modern methods of extracting coal.  Education visitors can also take part in workshops focussing on specific aspects of working and home life around the coal industry in Wales.

Sharon Ford, Learning Officer, Big Pit said: “Renewing our Sandford Award and being awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge are real coups for all the staff at Big Pit, as it shows that we offer an unique high quality learning experiences. We're thrilled to get official recognition for our efforts and we look forward to welcoming even more children and young people to the museum.”

Ceri Black, Head of Learning, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales added: “A big congratulations to the team at Big Pit! This award highlights the fact that the Museum's Heritage Education programme has gone from strength to strength over the past 5 years.  Schools not only enjoy the thrill of the underground tour but also pond dipping, minibeast hunting and finding out more about children at work in Victorian times.

“In a new departure, thanks to Welsh Assembly Government support, we're welcoming a growing number of Welsh learners of all ages, who are discovering our industrial heritage and improving their Welsh language skills at the same time.”

Beth Gardner, Chief Executive of the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (LOtC) said:  “Educational visits are among the most memorable experiences in a child’s school life.  Quality Badges offer teachers a guarantee that not only is a venue providing the sort of educational value that they can build on in class long after the visit but they also have the appropriate risk management structures in place.

Learning outside the classroom has many proven educational benefits. The LOtC Quality Badge will reduce red tape and provide assurance for schools, thereby ensuring that many more young people have memorable, exciting and valuable learning outside the classroom experiences. I congratulate Big Pit on being awarded the badge.”