Q: I have made a provisional visit booking with the Gardens. What happens next?
A: To permanently reserve your visit date, we need to receive a completed booking form within one week. (A booking form can be accessed from our website or we can e-mail/fax one to you; it can then be returned through our website or by e-mail, fax or post.) Once we receive your completed booking form, we will e-mail you confirmation of your visit, which will include all of the information you will require about the day, including timings for any teaching sessions. If you do not receive a confirmation e-mail within a week, please check your junk/spam folder as our e-mails are sometimes diverted there.
Q: What time can we arrive/stay until?
A: The Gardens open at 10am (we cannot admit anyone before this time for safety and insurance reasons. We ask groups not to arrive before 10am as there is no waiting area other than the car park). You are then free to choose your own departure time to suit your visit, but please feel free to stay as long as you like to maximise the time you have in the Gardens.
Q: Will we be provided a lunch/storage space?
A: A lunch/storage space will be provided for you, if requested (on your booking form). It will usually be indoor but may be a covered, outdoor area if the weather is warm but wet. You are also welcome to picnic on the lawn or benches around the grounds (groups are not permitted to use the seating areas designated for the Pavilion Tea Room, unless making purchases there).
Q: How many teaching sessions can I book and how do I know which to choose?
A: For the teaching session charge, we provide one teaching session for every 30 children. We can provide additional teaching sessions (subject to availability), but each session will be charged for individually. However, we also have regular special offers where having more than one session is charged at a reduced rate (current offers will be outlined on the Prices and Payment Options area of our website). Please see the Teaching Sessions area of our website for what is included in each session, so you can make an informed decision about which links best to your topic/subject.
Q: Will resources be provided for our self-guided time?
A: New for 2018/19, Activity Packs are available to hire for use in your self-guided time. Pack choices are: Pond Dipping, Minibeast Hunting, Cryptic Orienteering and Ecological Sampling. There are also a wide range of free educational resources available on our website for you to download and print before your visit (they will not be provided on the day).
Q: Will our pupils be supervised by Gardens staff?
A: Teaching sessions will be taught by a member of the Gardens’ Education Team, but student behaviour is still the responsibility of your staff. For the rest of your visit, supervision of all children is the sole responsibility of your staff at all times. Please note that certain teaching areas (e.g. the Glasshouses) will be open to the public at the time of your visit, so please ensure acceptable student conduct at all times.
Q: Can I come for a pre-visit?
A: Yes. Just bring letterheaded paper from your school, signed by your Head Teacher with the date of your visit, and you will be allowed free entry to the Gardens any time during our opening hours.
Q: Can we pay for our visit on the day?
A: We accept payment on the day of your visit, made by cash, cheque or credit/debit card. If you prefer, you can be invoiced before or after your visit (only groups of 10 or more children can be invoiced).
Q: Is there a gift shop?
A: Yes. Pupils are allowed into the shop in groups of 10. `Goody bags` can also be ordered in advance so children do not have to bring spending money with them (we advise a minimum goody bag spend of £3). (All goody bag/shop payments must be made on the day of your visit – they cannot be added to your invoice.)
Q: Is there free parking on-site?
A: Yes, for cars and minibuses. Please enter your vehicle registration into the machines in Reception to obtain free parking. Coaches are not permitted to park or drop-off in the car park due to restricted space. There is a nearby area where coaches are permitted to park. Please see the Coach Instructions for more information.
Sample Itinerary for 1 Group of 30 Children
This is provided as a suggestion of how your visit could be structured and how long activities may take, but please feel free to modify to suit your particular wants and needs.
10am – arrival and toilet stop
10.15am – Teaching Session
11.15am – experience the 4 climatic-themed Glasshouses, seeing highlights such as; cocoa and rubber trees, bananas and citrus fruits, carnivorous plants, cacti, and the giant fish pond. (Free supporting resources available)
12.15pm – lunch and toilet stop
12.45pm – explore the outside Gardens, seeing highlights such as; the Japanese and Rock Gardens, exotic bird aviaries and free-roaming peacocks, giant trees and colourful flowers, and everything in-between. (Free supporting resources available)
1.45pm – enjoy the Treetops Adventure playground and visit the Gift Shop
2.30pm – toilet stop and departure
2.30pm has been suggested as a departure time, as many groups like to return for their normal finishing time, but you are welcome to stay at the Gardens for as long as you want. (The Gardens close between 4pm – 7pm depending on the time of year.)