Frequently asked questions

You can find answers to frequently asked questions about virtual sessions, waterside visits and outreach sessions below.

Virtual sessions

Can you do online versions of your activities as we can’t come out to visit or have visitors in now due to COVID?

Yes, we can. We have been busy redesigning our most popular sessions so that we can offer them online. These specially designed workshops can be run with small groups or classes and we have adapted our popular water safety assemblies to work for the classroom. We also have volunteers that are happy to run evening sessions for uniformed groups to support them working towards water safety badges or learning about their local area. Please contact us to discuss.

What platforms do you use & how do the sessions work?

We can use Skype, Zoom, GoogleMeet and Microsoft Teams.

We have found that the easiest way to run the sessions is for the teacher/group leader to act as host. You will facilitate the video call, remaining responsible for the communication, behaviour and welfare of the participants. This means you will have the relevant parent/guardian permissions for all participants taking part and have an agreement for using the conferencing platform selected. We have found that by the teacher/group leader hosting the meeting, you can ensure all settings are controlled and in line with your school/group online safety policy. 

In practical terms, it means that you will invite us to the call. Please do not invite or allow anyone else to join the call, without prior agreement. If the teacher/group leader leaves the call for any reason we will end it for safeguarding purposes.

Can we do a pre/practice session to test the technology?

We would be very happy to do that, this way of working is new to so many of us!

Do I need any specialist equipment?

We are presuming that we will be displayed on an interactive board, if this is not the case please let us know beforehand.

You will also need to ensure that you have speakers loud enough for the class to hear us. It is also important for you to familiarise yourself with the microphone as this will make a difference in how we can interact with the pupils. If your microphone is on your laptop/computer we will need the pupils to come up to the laptop to speak to us so we can hear their answers or questions/comments, or you will need to act as a ‘go-between’ to feedback to us. 

If you are using a separate microphone, then this can be passed around the class or the pupils can come up to it. They often find it confusing speaking to us on the screen but having to talk into a microphone so it might be worth explaining or showing them what to do first. We’d be happy to do a ‘technical dress rehearsal’ beforehand if that helps.

Do the pupils need anything?

Any equipment needed will be discussed in advance when you make your booking – most sessions are planned to run with usual classroom equipment (such as colouring pencils) or none.

Do you offer sessions suitable for additional needs groups?

Most of our sessions can be tailored to your group if we have advanced notice (to ensure we have the appropriate support materials). Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements  

How much do the sessions cost?

All our virtual sessions are free, but you can donate to the Canal & River Trust so that we can continue our work. 

Can we ask questions?

It is always great to have questions and helps with interaction. If you have a special topic or area of interest, then please provide questions in advance where possible so that we can contact our relevant specialists in advance.  

How long do sessions last?

Many of our sessions can be tailored to local studies and areas of interest. However, generally:

  • Our KS1 water safety session lasts 30 mins
  • Our KS2 water safety session lasts 60 mins (can adapt to the length of lesson e.g. have done 45 mins)
  • Our Build a Canal, local studies and STEM sessions lasts60 mins (can adapt to the length of lesson e.g. have done 45 mins & 90 mins)
  • Crucial crew sessions are around 15-20 mins
  • All other workshops typically last 30 or 60 mins but are often adapted.

How many people can you accommodate?

Our online sessions for schools have been developed to work with individual classes. Our sessions for uniformed groups are for one group/pack at a time as we encourage interaction. Please contact us to discuss your requirements. 

Can we record the session and use it with other classes?

We have worked hard to try and make our online sessions interactive so would prefer to run the session again with another class. We do have several videos you might find helpful:

Building bridges

Build a canal

How a lock works

Floating and sinking

What lives in a river?

Stay safe near water

Corridor for nature – redesigning your garden for wildlife  

How are boats built?

If you intend to record the call, we need to be made aware prior to the session as staff and volunteers will need to confirm they have been made aware that calls might be recorded and kept, according to the school/group’s GDPR policy.

Can I share your session on social media?

We always love to see our sessions shared and promoted on social media on the Canal & River Trust - Explorers Twitter and Facebook pages or school newsletters. We just request that you ask permission beforehand if you want to share images of our staff or volunteers.  

What should I do if I have a Safeguarding or Health & Safety concern during the session?

Please inform your local coordinator (who you booked with) verbally and in writing and they will liaise with the Designated Safeguarding Lead within the Trust. If anyone is in immediate danger, please dial 999.

View our full safeguarding policy here. To report a safeguarding concern or if you would like more information email us at safeguarding@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

Our Explorers team have enhanced DBS checks. Any new volunteers will be accompanied by an experienced volunteer or member of staff. If a session involves a one-off interview of an expert (e.g. one enquiry involved questions about freight management), then they will be accompanied by an Explorers colleague or volunteer.

If Zoombombing occurs (unwanted participants sharing unpleasant material), we will end the call immediately and contact the school/group another way.

Additional Safeguarding protocols for participants that are in separate locations

Teachers and group leaders are again responsible for the call and should remind all participants of the desired etiquette including:

  • keeping on mute when not speaking
  • using ‘hands up’ indicator if a participant wants to speak
  • not using any private chat functions
  • not sharing meeting info outside the group.

A minimum of two people from the Trust will attend as the risk of disconnection is greater possibly leaving us alone with the children. We also ask that two teachers or group leaders join the call to minimise this risk.

Waterside visits

School children at Cambrian Wharf School trip to Cambrian Wharf

Our outdoor learning locations have been awarded the Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge. We have been assessed on the essential elements of outdoor visits – learning and safety. Find out more here

Can you send me a risk assessment?

Information on risk assessments can be found on the Planning your visit section of our website.

Do you offer free pre-visits to help us plan?

Yes, we do. Please us our enquiry form to discuss your requirements 

How much do the visits cost?

Many of our sessions are free, though there are costs for visits to our museums and attractions and for boat trips (where available). Information can be found on the individual site pages of our website or please contact us to discuss your requirements 

How many people can you accommodate?

This varies between sites due to the physical space involved and the number of people available to lead a visit. Most sites can accommodate one class at a time, but some of our sites can accommodate larger numbers of pupils/students are split into smaller groups and move around a series of activities.

Workshops are designed for a maximum of 15 pupils, but we can often run multiple sessions so that a whole class/group can do a workshop at the same time or children can be split into smaller groups and move around a series of activities.

What should our adult: child ratios be?

Minimum requirements are:

  • 4 - 8 years - one adult to six children
  • 9 - 12 years - one adult to eight children
  • 13 - 18 years - one adult to ten children

Is the visit accessible for wheelchairs?

See our individual site pages for access information. If you have any further queries, please contact us directly to discuss your requirements.

Do you offer visits suitable for additional needs groups?

Most of our sessions can be tailored to your group if we have advanced notice (to ensure we have the appropriate support materials). Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements 

What should the children/students wear?

We recommend you treat all our visits as outdoor visits (even if you are going into a building at some point) and advise everyone to dress appropriately for the weather – being outdoors for an hour or more can get cold even in moderate weather, therefore coats are a must, as are hats and gloves in colder months. Flat/sensible shoes are also needed as many of our sites have cobblestones or steps.

Do you have toilets at all sites?

Many of our sites have toilet facilities, though often these are not reserved for school use and may be accessible to members of staff or the general public. Information pages for our main sites can be found here.

For any additional issues please discuss with the coordinator planning your visit.  

Do you offer boat trips?

Some of our sites can offer a boat trip as part of a visit. These are often through working in partnership with a local volunteer group and so individual charges apply, please contact us for details. At present there are boat trips at the following places, please see individual site pages for more details 

North West

National Waterway Museum Ellesmere Port (Cheshire), Anderton Boat Lift (Northwich)

Yorkshire & NE

Pocklington Canal (near York), Victoria Quays (Sheffield city centre), Standedge Tunnel (Marsden)

West Midlands

Stourport Basin (Stourport on Severn), Birmingham City Centre

East Midlands

Trent Lock (Long Eaton/Nottingham), Canal Museum Stoke Bruerne (Northampton)

South West & Wales 

National Waterway Museum (Gloucester), Devizes Wharf

What if I need to cancel or the weather forecast looks bad?

We treat all our sessions as outdoor visits and will keep going in all but the worst weather. If you need to cancel a session or are concerned about poor weather, please contact your local coordinator (that you made the booking with) to discuss cancelling or rescheduling. Most of our sessions are run by teams of volunteers so please try to give us as much notice as possible so that we can contact all the volunteers to let them know about any changes.

What should I do if I have a Safeguarding or Health & Safety concern during the visit?

Please inform your local coordinator (who you booked with) verbally and in writing and they will liaise with the Designated Safeguarding Lead within the Trust. If anyone is in immediate danger, please dial 999.

View our full safeguarding policy here. To report a safeguarding concern or if you would like more information email us at safeguarding@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

Are the visits COVID Secure?

We have followed government advise and altered how we deliver waterside visits. We have introduced social distancing, encourage regular hand washing, quarantine handling items, wipe down surfaces and manage the use of any facilities. Please contact us directly if you have any questions or concerns.

Outreach Sessions

'Build a Canal' workshop

Do you come out to schools or clubhouses?

Yes, we do. We have specially designed workshop sessions that can be brought into school and run with small groups or classes, as well as water safety sessions that can be run with larger groups as an assembly. We also have volunteers that are very happy to come out to uniformed groups to support them working towards water safety badges or learning about their local area. Please contact us to discuss. More information for teachers is available here and for group leaders here.

Do you offer sessions suitable for additional needs groups?

Most of our sessions can be tailored to your group if we have advanced notice (to ensure we have the appropriate support materials). Please contact us to discuss your specific requirements. 

How much do the sessions cost?

All our outreach sessions are free, but you can donate to the Canal & River Trust so that we can continue our work. 

How long do sessions last?

Many of our sessions can be tailored to local studies and areas of interest. However, as a rule

  • Our KS1 water safety assembly lasts 30 mins
  • Our KS2 water safety assembly lasts 45 mins
  • Our water safety workshops last between 45-60 mins
  • Crucial crew sessions are around 15-20 mins
  • Workshops usually last about 60 mins but are often adapted.

How many people can you accommodate?

This depends on the session, but most of our workshops are designed for a maximum of 15 pupils. However, we often run multiple sessions so that a whole class/group can do a workshop at the same time or children can be split into smaller groups and move around a series of activities.

In addition, our water safety sessions can either run as a workshop for smaller groups or as an assembly for larger groups. Please contact us to discuss your requirements 

What should I do if I have a Safeguarding or Health & Safety concern during the visit?

Please inform your local coordinator (who you booked with) verbally and in writing and they will liaise with the Designated Safeguarding Lead within the Trust. If anyone is in immediate danger, please dial 999.

View our full safeguarding policy here. To report a safeguarding concern or if you would like more information email us at safeguarding@canalrivertrust.org.uk 

Are sessions COVID Secure?

We have followed government advice and altered how we deliver outreach visits. We have introduced social distancing, encourage regular hand washing, quarantine handling items, wipe down surfaces and manage the use of any facilities. Please contact us directly if you have any questions or concerns.