Learning Outside the Classroom

The Isle of Purbeck is home to many opportunities for learning outside the classroom and education activities that can enrich a fun camp visit. These can take on a geographical, historical or environmental slant depending on options chosen and the learning objectives required. You can decide between guided or self-guided tours, a structured approach or a more freestyle learning experience. All of the options listed are fun, enjoyable, interesting and thought-provoking for all ages, allowing young minds to grasp events which happened in the past to create the physical landforms and  landscapes seen today with hands-on activities.

If you would like to include any of these activities in your residential programme, please indicate your preferences on the Build a Quote Form.

Available Learning Opportunities

Enjoy a site visit to the new state of the art RNLI station in Swanage. Students will have the opportunity to have a guided tour around the station, look around the lifeboat and potentially try on some kit. They learn about safety at sea and the importance of respecting the water. During the tour, we have designed a quiz based on the knowledge the students will gain at the station.

We are proud to be partners with the Jurassic Coast Trust and work together to help maintain, preserve and promote the Natural World Heritage Site for generations to come. With the assistance of the JCT ambassadors we can enthuse your students with knowledge on dinosaurs and how they left their footprints – literally- on the Dorset landscape. There is also the opportunity for your students to become Go Jurassic! Rangers.

We use Swanage Pier as the embarkation point for the mackerel fishing trips. Here your students can also enter the very recently opened visitors centre and see the history of the pier and of the town in visual representation. There is also a marine tank with an ever-changing population of sea species which can be found beneath the pier. There are specific teacher guides and further information sheets provided by the Pier Trust.

Two boat trips provide students a unique, exciting and close up opportunity to view the rock formations along the Jurassic Coast and provide an outdoor learning experience to remember.

1. Swanage Bay to Old Harry Rocks. A 60 minute boat trip leaving Swanage Pier across Swanage Bay towards Ballard Down and on to Old Harry Rocks. Stopping during the trip to investigate the Ballard fault line and iconic chalk stacks. Plus the opportunity of observing a variety of wildlife; sea birds nesting along the cliffs,  Peregrine Falcons or even Dolphins enjoying the waves.

2. Swanage Bay to Winspit. A two hour trip leaving Swanage Pier and heading west passing the dramatic Purbeck Limestone Cliffs and the famous disused quarries along the Jurassic Coast. During the trip the boat will stop to look at points of interest and there will be plenty of opportunity to observe the wildlife along the route such as the second largest colony of Guillemots on the south coast (March to July), Peregrine Falcons, Puffins, Seals or even Dolphins.

RSPB Arne covers more than 565 hectares of the Arne peninsular in the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. The RSPB first bought land here in 1965 to safeguard heathland species such as the smooth snake, sand lizard and Dartford warbler.  RSPB Arne remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK’s native reptiles can be found. The reserve is a haven for wildlife and has many designations including SSSI, SPA and SAC status. Here your students will find a diverse natural habitat for many animals, not only birds, and the highlights change depending on the season. For visits in Spring and Summer you are more likely to see the famous Dartford Warbler and Chiff-Chaffs and a vast array of dragonflies and Damselflies around the pools.

Guarding the principle route through the Purbeck Hills, Corfe Castle is steeped in history and well worth a visit to explore its role in shaping the history of the County and Country. In a 1,000 years of history the castle location has been a Saxon stronghold, a Norman fortress, a royal palace and a family home. There are often re-enactments of historical turning points and battles where the students can see and experience the excitement of Saxon sieges and Medieval Mayhem – there’s never a dull moment at the Castle!

Famous for red squirrels, wildlife and scouting, Brownsea Island has thriving natural habitats – including woodland, heathland and a lagoon. This creates a unique haven for wildlife, such as the rare red squirrel and a wide variety of birds, including dunlin, kingfishers, common and sandwich terns and oystercatchers. It is a location for a perfect day’s adventure – this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore. You can book an instructor-led learning experience or guide your students around the island following the trails and paths designed to show you the best of the land and the wildlife.

The Etches Collection is a fossil museum in the village of Kimmeridge, Purbeck, Dorset, England. It is based on the lifetime fossil collection of Steve Etches from the local area on the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site, especially around Kimmeridge Bay and the Kimmeridge Ledges. As Year 3 and Year 6 curriculum for biology and chemistry now include evolution and fossils, the Etches Collection museum is a great place to bring this alive with many fossils to illustrate the lifecycle of marine mammals in years gone by. A trip here can be linked with a tour of Kimmeridge Bay and the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve.

Located on the shores of Kimmeridge Bay, The Wild Seas Centre offers a focal point to the enjoyment of exploring the bay and its rockpools and ledges. Peer into the waters to see a range of seaweeds and rockpool life like sea anemones, crabs, fish & invertebrates. There are marine tanks in the centre with hand-on activities and instructor led tours can be booked.

The Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum (PMMM) is dedicated to the history of Purbeck Ball Clay mining, the industrial heritage of Purbeck and the Purbeck narrow gauge railways which can be found close to the Norden Station of the Swanage Steam Railway. It is located in the last working underground mine building in Dorset and much of the museum is underground. Visits here are self-led although there will be a meet and greet with basic information provided on your arrival.

The Steam Railway is a great local success story with volunteers working tirelessly to re-establish the Purbeck Line between Swanage and Norden and subsequently onto Wareham and the national rail system. The route of the railway takes you from Swanage through beautiful Dorset countryside to Corfe Castle. Here you can alight and enjoy the historic castle and picturesque village of Corfe, and then on to Norden where you can visit the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum.

There are various other opportunities in the area which can add depth and enrich your residential: