Heritage Schools Case Study: Why is the Hippodrome such a special building?

Summary: Pupils research the history of the Hippodrome and take part in circus skills workshops as they re-live its heyday.

Where: St George's Infant School, Great Yarmouth

Who: Year 1 (+ whole school)

Intended outcomes

  • To learn about this significant landmark building and how the circus has changed
  • To develop a sense of chronology
  • To increase children’s confidence and sense of achievement
  • To develop a range of opportunities to learn outside the classroom

Year 1 pupils read stories about the circus and linked these to archive photos and programmes dating back to the 19th century of the Hippodrome to identify similarities and differences and change over time. The whole school visited the Hippodrome for a day of circus skills workshops (including plate spinning, juggling, trapeze and tightrope) and a tour of the museum. The whole school also went to the schools' performance at the beginning of the summer season to see the circus and water spectacular.

The theme was adopted across the curriculum by the whole school for a term with all subjects being taught with a circus theme and supporting work for the arts award. The children's art work was displayed in St Nicholas Minster as part of an exhibition by a school cluster and the students performed a song and a dance routine as part of a joint seaside spectacular with a heritage theme.

What we did

  • Used archives and photographs to research the building
  • Created art work for an exhibition
  • Learned some circus skills
  • Took part in a performance


  • Using archive resources with Year 1
  • Taking children out on a trip


  • All children learned about the history of a significant building
  • All children had memorable experiences which are likely to stay with them into adulthood
  • Every child conquered the trapeze including S who has Cerebral Palsy
  • All children had an opportunity to share their learning with others, including their families

Resources and web links

Next steps/extension activities

  • Complete arts awards
  • Involve families in a school circus event
  • Develop link with Seachange who hold regular workshops in schools to develop circus techniques and street dance