General information for school visits

General informationPark FacilitiesGuidelines for TeachersGroup LeadersHealth and Safety

Pre visits

A pre visit for group leaders is essential for all activities and your booking will not be secured until you have attended. Our Rangers will help you with the planning of your visit at this time.

Coaches, minibuses and cars

The car and coach park are well signposted as you come into Royal Victoria Country Park. The coach park is situated in Tall Pines Car Park which is only a few minutes walk from Acorns Education Facility, the Cedar Tea Rooms and toilets. Groups visiting must inform us if they will be bringing a coach at the pre visit. Parking permits are available from the park office upon arrival. The current cost of a coach is £10 per coach.

Accidents and First Aid

In the event of a minor first aid incident please speak to the ranger in charge on a led session or make your way to the Heritage Visitor Centre. In the event of a more serious incident please contact your nearest member of staff. We have appointed first aiders on site at all times but it is recommended that you bring your own first aiders and first aid kit with you on your visit.

Safety

Please follow guidelines set by your Local Education Authority or parent organisation with regard to taking groups on trips and carrying out fieldwork. Please ensure supervision ratios are adhered to. All schools/groups must complete their own risk assessment prior to visiting the park.

You are responsible for the safety, well being and discipline of your children at all times, including during guided activities. Groups of children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.

Please be aware that the park is a public place and on hot days is extremely popular and can get very busy. Therefore, please be mindful of traffic (particularly when crossing roads) and the public at all times.

Insurance

The County Council has its own insurance for any accidents that occur on our site but all groups visiting the site should have their own off site activities insurance to a minimum of £5 million.

Lost children

Should you lose any children in your care, please let the Park know as soon as possible so we can help organise a search. Either phone the Park or call into our Heritage Visitor Centre. It is advisable to explain to children that if they get separated from the group to have a central meeting place such as the Heritage Visitor Centre which is easy to spot and where our information point and reception is located!.

Lost property

Please report any items lost or found to the Heritage Visitor Centre. Please note: we only keep items for 1 month. Then, they are donated to Charity.

Payment

A parked journal or invoice will be raised following the pre visit to discuss your requirements and will be payable within 28 days.

Cancellation

If you are unable to attend, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can rearrange a date for you.

Cancellation charges apply to room hire and catering. Standard terms and conditions apply.

Health risks in the countryside

We do not wish to scare you: the risks of picking up an infection or disease from the countryside is rare, but we recommend a few simple precautions.

Regular hand washing at the end of all activities and before and after eating. We recommend long trousers for children and adults taking part in activities. This will reduce the risk of grazes and picking up ticks, particularly in the woodland.

Children who have been carrying out activities in the woodland, should check for ticks at the end of the day. Ticks are small black spider like creature less than 5mm long. Typically, they crawl over the skin before finding a dark place to attach themselves. Some ticks carry a bacterium that causes Lyme Disease, which can affect the skin or more seriously the nervous system; fortunately, it is still a rare disease in the UK.

We recommend that children cover up their skin as much as possible, wear a sunhat and sun cream in hot weather and drink plenty of water throughout the day

Weils Disease (which is passed on from Rats Urine) can be contracted from bodies of water. Hand washing before eating and drinking is essential to reduce the risk of illness.

Please consult NHS Direct for more information.

Hire of Acorns Education Facility

This is a multi-functional room which can be hired by schools and groups as an optional extra for a small charge. The daily rate is £30 which is a special subsidised rate for schools/groups. It is a light and airy room a short distance behind the main office building with a small outdoor seating area. The room can be used for meetings but is ideal for school and group activities, and is particularly useful during wet weather where children can eat their lunch. Toilets are outside the building and steps lead into the room. The room is not wheelchair friendly. This room must be booked separately through the Park Office. Standard terms and conditions for room hire apply. For further information, please contact 02380 455157.

Heritage Visitor Centre

This iconic building is all that is left of Britain’s first purpose built and largest military hospital of the day, it now houses the Park’s Information Centre, shop and interesting exhibition about the rich heritage of the site. Group leaders should be aware that members of the public will still be allowed into the exhibition area during school visits and therefore any noise should be kept to a minimum.

Gift Shop

We welcome groups into our shop which offers an extensive range of gifts and souvenirs. It is recommended that if your students would like to visit the shop, they do so in small groups of no more than 5 and let us know in advance.

Alternatively, we can provide a goody bag service and made up bags ready for collection on the day of your visit. This service must be booked at your pre visit.

Goody bags cost £1 each and contain

  • RVCP pencil
  • RVCP postcard and
  • RVCP sharpener

Contents subject to availability.

Toilets

Toilets are located next to the Cedar Tea Rooms and in the Heritage Visitor Centre. There are also separate toilets if you decide to hire Acorns Education Room. Please closely supervise all children in your care when using these facilities.

Cedar Tea-rooms

The tea rooms are managed by Wise Catering. Children’s lunches are available from the Tea-rooms but will need to be pre-booked in advance through Wise Catering, tel 02380 439280. Children however can bring their own packed lunches. Catering can also be ordered through the hire of Acorns Education Facility at time of booking. Terms and conditions apply.

Play-Areas

The play-areas are owned and managed by the Park and are inspected each day. Children in your care must be supervised at all times within these areas.

BBQ Areas

There are a number of purpose built BBQ areas for hire by groups around the Park. These areas need to be pre booked in advance. None of these areas are covered areas. Contact us tel 02380 455157. These areas are not to be used by schools for picnics.

Picnic Areas

There is a designated picnic area where schools/groups can eat their packed lunches near to the Round Car Park. Unfortunately, this is not a covered area. Alternatively, schools can use the main or lower fields for a picnic if not in use for events. Schools are not allowed to eat their food on the patio area outside the tea-rooms. Schools can if they wish enter our waste free lunch competition, please ask for more information at your pre visit.

Litter

Please put litter within the bins provided. Litter bins are situated within all car park areas.

Ice Creams

Ice Creams are available from the tea-rooms or kiosk near to the Cedar Tea Rooms which is only open during very busy periods in the summer such as weekends and bank holidays. There is often an ice-cream van present outside the Heritage Visitor Centre during school holidays and weekends where ice-creams can be purchased.

Ride the Railway

The site has a miniature railway which covers over a mile of park. A ride on the railway at the end of your visit would be a great way to end a visit to the Royal Victoria Country Park. An additional charge will apply and visits must be pre booked with the Railway’s Owner Mr. Pete Bowers, tel 02380 456246. Please inform us if you would like to use this facility as time must be planned into your visit

Before your visit

  • Ranger led visits must be booked in advance.
  • Groups may need to be divided to complete activities at different times throughout the day.
  • We insist on a pre-visit to familiarise yourself with the park and complete your own risk assessments. If you require guidance on activities or areas of the park please do not hesitate to contact us.
  • Supervision Ratios:- Foundation 1:4  KS1 1:5  KS2 1:12 Please remember that rangers cannot be included in your ratios.
  • This is an open country site, for self tutored visits at least one leader must hold the Open Country Award.
  • For self led beach studies please remember to check tide times.
  • Please ensure your group brings appropriate outdoor clothing and footwear for all weathers. Supplies of water and sun cream are advised.
  • Goody Bags are available from the shop for £1 each, but must be pre ordered. If you would like to use this service please fill in the order form in the Education Pack. Or download it from the website.

On the day

  • The public toilets are open every day and are situated next to the Cedar Tea-rooms. We recommend they are used in small groups, i.e. 5 at a time.
  • Please report to the park office to collect any equipment and meet your ranger for pre booked activities.
  • School staff are responsible for the welfare and behaviour of children throughout your visit including during ranger led activities.
  • Please ensure you have a nominated first aider for your visit.
  • In case of an emergency please call for an ambulance directly inform park staff who can provide assistance and advice.

After your visit

  • Please complete an evaluation form after your visit to help us develop and improve our facilities and our service to you.

Thank you for offering to help with your school visit. Although you may receive information from the school we hope that the information provided here will give you a clear idea of what to expect from your visit.

Working in groups

We expect the children in your assigned group to

  • Stay close to you
  • Behave sensibly
  • Listen carefully to instructions
  • Ask and answer questions

We expect you to

  • Make frequent head counts and alert us immediately if any child is missing
  • Help children learn to recognise dangers like fungi, water, and uneven ground
  • Help children actively engage and become involved in activities to get the most out of the visit
  • Praise sensible behaviour
  • Encourage children to ask and answer questions

Other notes

  • Please dress appropriately for the weather
  • Keep valuables to a minimum and do not leave them on display in any vehicles
  • Enthusiastic support from teachers, parents and other adults is of paramount importance. Please lead by example. Remember if adults show disinterest and reluctance to get involved in the activities children will copy them.

Please note this is not a risk assessment but a guide to help you when completing your own.

LocationHazardRiskSeverityControls
Beach Possibility of drowningLowHighThrow bags are available to borrow from the park
Coach / Car ParksInjury from trafficLowHigh

5 mph speed limits in place in car parks and 10mph on all other access roads on site

Activities should be held away from car parks

Vigilance and close group control

Site WideSlips, trips and fallsMedLowPlay area and most used areas of park inspected daily, extremities inspected weekly
 Cuts and scratches from plantsMedLowVerbal warning in health and safety talk
 Allergies to insects and plantsLowMediumEnsure staff aware of group allergies and have antidotes
 Dog bitesLowMedium

Signs around park to keep dogs on leads.

Rangers give warning if inappropriate behaviour spotted

 Snake bitesLowHighVerbal warning in introduction
 Heat ExhaustionLowMediumGroups advised to bring plenty of water
 Abduction / assault by member of publicLowHighGroups advised on ratios of adults to children and to make regular head counts.
 Injury from falling trees and branchesLowMedium

Daily inspection of most used areas of site and weekly inspections of extremities

Trees surveyed yearly