Learning at the Lock - Information for teachers

This well established award-winning* educational programme is aimed at KS1 and KS2 aged children. We are proud to offer a unique educational experience unrivalled, we believe, by any provider in this field.

Over an exciting, practical, hands-on day children learn about several aspects of the National Curriculum programmes of study, particularly in History, Geography and Science.

Central to our educational philosophy is that the day should

  • Be enjoyable and memorable
  • Include lots of hands-on, practical activities
  • Enhance children’s learning and go beyond national curriculum requirements
  • Be responsive to the school’s and pupils’ needs

This summary gives a flavour of our ‘core offer’ and we will do our best to accommodate school requirements if they differ from what is described.

The day starts at about 9.30 am with a short whole-class introduction and finishes at 2.30 pm with a plenary. Each of three main activities lasts about 40 minutes, and lunch is taken in our new, custom-built education centre on the adjacent to Batchworth Lock itself. 

Essential details:

  • Groups should be between 20 and 33 children
  • Minimum of 4 staff – ideally 6 or more who are expected to help supervise the children
  • Cost of the day £9 per child. All staff and volunteers are DBS checked – see the website ‘Teacher Resources’ for copies of our Child Protection Policy and Risk Assessment used
  • Buoyancy aids are provided, and the children wear them whenever near the water or in the boats
  • All helmsmen are trained to NCBA/CCBM level or equivalent

* Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2017; Waterways Renaissance Award 2007

At the Learning Centre

Learn about the history of canals and meet the people who built & worked on them

Following a short lesson on the history of canals in Britain children will be able to answer these questions:

What are canals and who built them?

How and why did they build them?

How did the Industrial Revolution change life in Britain?

What was life like for late-Victorian canal people?

Using evidence, including original photographs, artefacts and maps, we help children to visualise the time when canals were introduced to Britain and the local area. Through a series of practical, hands-on activities, including dressing up in costumes, children will learn:

  • The reasons for building canals in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • How Britain changed as a result
  • To compare life then and life today
  • To ask and answer historical questions in order to understand the place of the locality in British and global contexts

At The Lock and Weir

Learn what a lock and weir are and how they work

In this session children will find answers to these questions:

How can we stay safe near water?

Which canal is this, where does it start and where does it end?

What are locks for and how do they work?

What are weirs for and how do they work?

Building on what they already know, and using their observational skills, children will learn the main features of the Batchworth Lock and nearby weir focusing especially on:

  • Staying safe near water
  • The reasons locks are on the canal
  • How a lock works, including a discussion of the forces and mechanism at play
  • A chance to help operate the lock
  • The difference between canals and rivers
  • The function of the weir, its historical significance & its importance to fish​

On Roger- a historic narrow boat

Learn what life was like on ‘Roger’, a historically significant narrowboat

As a result of visiting Roger children will be able to answer confidently the following questions:

What sort of boat is Roger, when was she built and what was she used for?

What are the similarities and differences between life on the canal in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and their own life now?

The highlight of this session sees the children going on board Roger and experiencing what family life was like over a century ago. Using a mix of ask, show and tell the guide will help children understand and learn:

  • The differences, and similarities, in the lives of working boat-people and their own

  • To use the evidence before their eyes – including the artefacts and furniture on the boat – to make historical inferences

  • That using ingenuity and practical considerations boat-dwellers designed the boats to accommodate their needs

On board ‘The Pride of Batchworth’

Learn about life on the canals today – human, bird and plant – as you enjoy a 40 minute trip along the Grand Union Canal

During this enjoyable trip children will find the answers to these questions:

What are the safety rules on board a canal-boat, especially when going through a lock?

What birds, plants and animals have made their home on or near the canal, and how many can we spot today?

What can we do to protect and improve the natural environment near canals and waterways?

On the excursion, children will learn:

  • How to board/ disembark and travel safely on a narrowboat
  • How a lock fills and empties – from the viewpoint of a passenger!
  • The names and appearance of several commonly seen species
  • To observe and record wildlife as they travel along the canal

What they say - Some Teachers’ Comments:

"...the children were very responsive all day and thoroughly enjoyed learning through experience."

"The children were kept fully occupied throughout the visit and made to observe, think, record information and take in many facts."

"I really enjoyed the lesson and learnt a lot more facts than I did from books"

“Relevant activities were pitched at an appropriate level for our students”