What is a Rail Familiarisation visit?
A rail familiarisation visit is an opportunity for pupils to experience, with their class and school staff, a free of charge return rail journey. Developed specifically for pupils in their final year of primary school (10-11 years old), the practical experience helps build confidence to become independent rail travellers as they progress to secondary school. Visits include a return train journey to either Weston-super-Mare, Severn Beach or Bradford-on-Avon plus a Forest School session, usually delivered out of doors, which serves as an introduction to the concept of sustainability. Our aim is that pupils grow an understanding of how to be a safe, smart and sustainable travellers. The programme covers the following:
- Being safe at the station
- Finding help at the station
- Safely boarding and disembarking the train
- Finding a seat or a safe place to stand
- What to do if you see something suspicious
- Contacting the British Transport Police via their text message service
- Journey Planning
- Sources of information on and off the station, including:
- Help Points
- Audio Messages
- Paper Timetables
- Station Staff
- Internet and Smart Phone Apps
- When and where to purchase your ticket
- An introduction to rail as a sustainable mode of transport.
- A sense of the social, environmental and climate impact over alternative transport choices.
Is my school eligible?
Any school within easy reach of a local station listed below may apply to bring their year 6 pupils on a free of charge Rail Familiarisation Visit
Weston Line - Parson Street, Bedminster, Nailsea and Backwell, Yatton, Worle, Weston Milton, Weston-super-Mare, Highbridge and Burnahm, Bridgwater
Severn Beach Line - Lawrence Hill, Stapleton Road, Montpelier, Redland, Clifton Down, Sea Mills, Shirehampton, Avonmouth, Severn Beach
Heart of Wessex Line – Keynsham, Oldfield Park, Bath Spa
Journeys are taken on off peak rail services, fitting neatly into the usual school day. Times of rail services to and from each local station are pre-loaded on our visit request form.
If you would like to request a visit(s) for your Year 6 pupils, please complete the visit request form indicating your preferred date(s)
The Severnside Community Rail Partnership is unable to support transport to and from a local station, other than for pupils with limited mobility. Please indicate of the booking request form if such service is required.
To ensure the visit runs smoothly, please remember the following:
- We are most grateful to GWR for sponsoring the visits allowing pupils to receive a return rail journey and a Forest School session free of charge. The success of the visit is dependent on adult support provided by the school and that teacher, support staff and volunteers will support our small team by taking responsibility for the safety, behaviour and timekeeping of the class throughout the visit.
- We ask that the class is divided in to three groups prior to the visit and that each group had a designated adult leader who will remain with the group for the entire visit, including throughout the round robin of activities on the beach.
- If the class includes pupils with additional needs please ensure you have liaised with us in advance and that such pupils will be fully supported throughout the visit.
- On arrival at Weston-super-Mare or Severn Beach station the group discuss how to keep safe and be smart when using the railway. The next stage of the visit sees each class compiles their own risk assessment prior to outdoor learning - on the beach (Weston-super-Mare and Severn Beach visits) or near the canal (Bradford-on-Avon visits). We allow time for eating packed lunch and using the toilet before activities commence.
- The round robin of Beach activities, introducing the concept of sustainability will be a combination of making wind tells and calculating the direction of the wind, a sensory walk, the very popular "Sustainable Sandcastle or Beach Art Challenge" and/or a rock and fossil hunt. We recommend you bring a camera or iPad as you will want to record creations and learning outcomes.
- Pupils need to wear suitable outdoor clothing and footwear, ideally Wellington boots, being aware that clothing and footwear may become wet and dirty on the beach. We have a small supply of waterproofs to lend to children if required. We ask that pupils apply sunscreen before leaving school.
- In extreme weather conditions it may not be possible to facilitate activities out of doors, in which case it may be necessary to return on an earlier train service.
- Please forward a copy of your risk assessment at your earliest convenience at least one week prior to the date of the visit