Learning Zone

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We offer a wide range of lifelong learning opportunities – whether you are a school, college, nursery, a home educator or a member of a community group.

Visits to the museum can either be led by your group leader, or we can arrange for a guide to take you on a fascinating tour. We also provide themed learning weeks for schools – these include history, science, design technology and art. We have loan boxes for you to borrow as well as supporting resources.

We can also come and see you, or arrange training for staff and volunteers in how to use our resources. We also host regular Open Days for teachers and other educators to come along to and find out more.

The Northern Rail activity room can be used by schools making a visit to use as a base and to eat packed lunches in. It is also open for a variety of activities during school holidays and on event days.

The Sandford Award for Heritage Education.

The award is an independently judged, quality assured assessment of education programmes at heritage sites, museums, archives and collections across the British Isles.

The award was given following the submission of a detailed account of the museum’s educational activities and facilities, as well as inspection of a schools workshop.

The judges’ report for the award read: “Visitors to the Darlington Railway Museum can gain insights into the history and community of the railway industry in Darlington and the surrounding area. Its collections demonstrate the important role played by this town in the development of an industry which made Britain famous throughout the industrialised world.” 

How to book

To book an educational visit or for more information on educational activities please contact Sarah Gouldsbrough, Learning and Access Officer.

Telephone: 01325 405541
Email: [email protected]

You can download our teachers information pack [pdf document] for information on planning your visit and help with Health and Safety.

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Making a Mark

Head of Steam is working in partnership with museums across the Tees Valley and the National Portrait Gallery in an exciting project funded by Arts Council England. Making a Mark is all about investigating our local history through the people that made their mark. For more information on our Primary and Secondary programmes for schools, please follow the links to the documents.

Head of Steam - Darlington Railway Museum is supporting Arts Award Discover through their making a Mark programme. This provides a range of creative writing activities for schools, which would enable young people to work towards Arts Award Discover.

Bridge North East and Arts Council England have provided funding to develop an Arts Award Discover portfolio for the Museums in the Tees Valley which should be available from early July 2014.

The Museum also has a variety of temporary art exhibitions and can provide work experience and volunteering opportunities.

Please contact Chris Wellings at the Museum to find out more.


Explorer sheets

To help your class to explore the museum on self guided visits, we have two explorer sheets to help, with a range of activities around the museum. One sheet is aimed at KS1 and the other is aimed at KS2.

Exploring Changes in the Local Area

Explore the local area around the Museum to discover more about railway history. With funding from the Ken Hoole Trust we have created a walking trail with activities to encourage children to look for changes in the local area. The trail starts and finishes at the Museum and would work well with other activities on a visit. There are also Teacher's Notes about railway and local history, curriculum links and organising the walk.

North East Railways In World War One

Thanks go to The Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the production of this resource with their grant funding, as part of the North East Railways in World War One project at Head of Steam – Darlington Railway Museum.

This resource is intended for use in Key Stage 3 to support learning about the First World War, although some of the sources could be used by Key Stage 2 groups with additional support.

The resource uses excerpts from primary sources held by the Museum to present case studies about employees of the North Eastern Railway during the early years of the 20th Century.

Pupils will discover the different experiences that people had during World War One by focusing on the actions of employees of the North Eastern Railway (NER), and in doing so will develop skills through inquiry based learning;

  • To be able to interpret a variety of original sources
  • In using this evidence to synthesise a ‘story’ about an individual
  • Make inferences using this evidence
  • Make suggestions about other sources for further research.

There are three parts to the resource, the main teachers’ notes [4.55MB, pdf document], the profile sheets [5.75MB, pdf document], and a PowerPoint presentation [3MB] expanding a case study about one railway family, The Bentleys.

Railway Heritage Trail

Explore Darlington's Railway Heritage with this trail for children around the town centre and to the museum. There is a pack for teachers with details of how the trail can be used in the classroom. There is also an extra activity sheet for Bank Top Station (Darlington Station on the East Coast main line). Please contact the Station Manager if you would like to visit, as ticket barriers are now in place.

North Lodge Park

In 2010, the bandstand in North Lodge Park, Darlington, was renovated, and a programme of activities and events to celebrate the work is continuing. As part of the project, we have created a learning resource with a variety of inspiring learning activities for schools and other educators. The project was funded by The Big Lottery Fund, the County Durham Foundation, Darlington Borough Council, Fair Share, Garfield Weston and the Friends of North Lodge Park.

Loan Boxes

Loan boxes are available for schools and other learning organisations to borrow

Boxes available:

  • Seaside Holidays
  • Victorian Toys
  • Journeys (aimed at KS1, includes a scheme of work)
  • 'The Opening Day of the Stockton and Darlington Railway' - based around the painting on display in the museum
  • Portraits
  • WW1 in the Tees Valley - 'A Soldier's Life' and 'Home Front' (2 boxes)
  • North East Railways in WW1

Links to online resources