Region: Scotland

Disabled Facilities: Yes

Category: Day Trip Destinations

Address: Holyrood Park Education Centre 1 Queeens Drive , Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 8HG

Contact: 0131 652 8155 or 8156



Our inspirational places provide exciting opportunities for discovery and exploration for learners of all ages. We care for over 300 prehistoric sites, castles, abbeys and industrial buildings spanning 5,000 years of Scottish history including:

Caerlaverock Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Fort George

Linlithgow Palace

Melrose Abbey

St Andrews Cathedral

Skara Brae

Stanley Mills

Stirling Castle

Urquhart Castle

Whatever aspect of Scotland’s heritage your group is interested in, we have the ideal place for a memorable visit. Our 345 historic sites and properties bring to life more than 5,000 years of history – and offer creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities.

Why is this venue great for School Trips and Educational Visits?

Experience Scottish history where it really happened with an educational visit to one of our properties.

School visits to Historic Environment Scotland sites are a great way to deliver the curriculum, by encouraging discovery and exploration outside the classroom. A number of sites may fit your subject and theme, each one offering its own particular glimpse into the past.

Free educational visits and travel subsidies mean that your main difficulty could be deciding where to begin exploring.

What does a typical school trip or educational visit include?

Choose to lead a self-led visit or search our schools activity programme to book a facilitated session on an exciting range of topics. Many sites lend themselves to art, drama and science and technology activities as well as to social studies topics.

Our expert-led activities are curriculum linked and offer inspiring, hands-on experiences for learners aged 3 to 18. They’re great value too. Search for schools activities online at your preferred sites to see what’s on offer.

Primary level activities explore the expressive arts as well as science and technology, while secondary level activities look in depth at social studies topics and inspire creativity.

Learning resources may be available for your chosen site – check before you book. Site guides suggest class activities to do before, during and after a visit to a specific site, for example. These ideas can help you to plan the most productive visit for your group.

This venue has the following accreditation:

Many of our sites have the Sandford Award for excellence in Heritage Education.

What size groups do they cater for?

We cater for different group sizes but would recommend splitting larger groups. Please contact Learning Services in advance of your visit to discuss.

Activities from our schools programme can cater for a maximum class size of 33. Groups larger than this would require to book two separate sessions.

Groups that include children under 16 must have adequate adult supervision at all times when on site. The required adult to child ratio will vary according to the age of the children.

Our recommended ratios are one adult for every:

• 10 children over 8 years but under 16

• six children over 5 years but under 8

• two children under 5 years

We suggest at least one supervisory adult for every four visitors with additional support needs.

What can they provide you with to support your school trip or educational visit?

Make the most of a visit by preparing for your day with the help of our wide range of resources for teachers and group leaders available on our website.

Background information and tour notes let you familiarise yourself with a site before you arrive. You can work out the most relevant highlights for your group and plan your route accordingly. There are also activities and resources to try before, during and after the visit. 

All downloads are free to use. Handling boxes – for use on site during a visit – can be booked in advance. Many of our resources are also available in Gaelic.

Can you take photos, video or audio? Are there any copyright restrictions?

This is permitted unless filming for a commercial purpose when you are required to contact us in advance.  

How do you arrange a risk assessment?

Your local authority or organisation may require a risk assessment to be completed before your visit. Even if not, we recommend it.

It is the group leader’s responsibility to prepare the risk assessment for a visit to one of our sites.

We recommend you make a planning visit to help you prepare your risk assessment. Planning visits are free of charge.

To book a planning visit at Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle, contact Learning Services. For all other properties, contact the site direct. You will see the contact details when you find a place to visit on our website.

Where a planning visit isn’t possible, you can download one of our hazard information sheets for guidance on potential hazards at the site you are visiting.

What are the contact details for their education officer?

Our Learning Development Officers are based at Edinburgh and Stirling Castles and regionally across Scotland . Please contact Learning Services if you wish to be put in touch to discuss a visit, activity or proposal.

What does it cost?

We operate a year round free education visits scheme to all of our properties for schools and other qualifying groups. Details on qualifying groups, full terms and conditions can be found on our website. Please note the exceptions below:  

Education visits are free at all Historic Environment Scotland sites except:

• Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle during peak summer season from May to August – entry is £2 per learner under 16 (full rate for age 16+)

• school visits to Stirling Castle in May and June are available only through our Schools Activity Programme – book early to avoid disappointment

• Kinnaird Head Lighthouse and the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses – entry is £1 per learner year round

We also run an activity programme for school. Some activities are free and some are charged at £70 per session. Joint activities offering two separate activities at two separate venues carry a charge of £140 for the full day.

Travel subsidies are available for Scottish Schools.

Full details can be found on our website.

Is specific clothing required?

You’re likely to spend at least part of your visit outdoors. Check the weather forecast and make sure your group wears suitable clothing – whether it’s warm layers and waterproofs or sunscreen and hats.

Sturdy footwear with a good grip is recommended. Floor surfaces and the grounds of sites are often uneven and can be slippery when wet.

Do you have first aid on site?

Our staffed sites have first aid boxes and trained first aiders. However, we would always recommend that group leaders bring their own risk assessment and a trained first aider. 

What facilities do they have for school trips and educational visits?

We have a range of different facilities at our sites. Please refer to our website for details of facilities at the site you wish to visit. 

Are there disabled facilities?

Please see our website for more details on disabled access and facilities at the site you wish to visit. Please contact Learning Services direct if you wish to discuss any aspect of your visit or any additional support needs your group may have and we will be happy to assist. 

What are your opening days and hours?

Summer (1 April – 30 September) Monday to Sunday 9.30am – 5.30pm

Winter (1 October – 31 March) Monday to Sunday 9.30am – 4.30pm.

These are general opening times and some sites operate reduced opening hours or are  shut over the Winter Season. Please see our website for full details of the opening hours at the site you wish to visit. 

Contact Learning Services to book an activity from our schools programme or a free visit to Edinburgh Castle or Stirling Castle. For all other properties, contact the site direct. You will see the contact details when you find a place to visit on our website.  

Do you have any testimonials from previous customers who have visited you on an educational visit?

Stirling Castle - Neilsland Primary School - 27/05/15 John the Jester was fantastic. The children had a great time and enjoyed learning new skills. All areas of the Castle were very interesting for the children and everyone was very friendly.

Edinburgh Castle – Trinity Primary School – 11/06/15 We had a fantastic day – staff were really friendly to the children –nothing was too much trouble. Thank you.

Age of Children / Pupils: Pre-school 5 – 7 years 8 – 10 years 11 – 13 years 14 – 16 years College University

Type of Visit: Castles Cathedrals. Abbeys. Churches Historic Buildings Historical Heritage Museums

Curriculum Topics Covered: Art and Design English History Leisure & Tourism Science

Months Open: All Year Round January February March April May June July August September October November December

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