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Historic buildings provide great opportunities for learning; not just history, but across many different subject areas.

At Stirchley Baths many of the range of activities and resources we have developed were suggested by teachers (and tested by children) from Stirchley Primary and Bournville Primary Schools. They include an in-depth local heritage study as well as activities which use the building and its history for teaching Maths, English, Art, Citizenship, Geography, Drama and PSHE.

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Our current activities have been designed with Key Stages 1 and 2 in mind, but they can be differentiated for other age groups and for learners’ own needs and ability levels.

Please do get in touch if you would like to discuss how activities might be adapted, or if you would like to devise your own school projects using the building as a resource.  

Below we have put together a ‘Learning Menu’ to help you select the right combination of subjects and activities for your class before you visit (‘Starters’), during an on-site facilitated visit (‘Mains and Accompaniments’), or as follow-on work back in the classroom (‘Afters’). Downloadable previews, activity sheets and resources are also contained within this page.

permission-givenxWe hope that your school will see Stirchley Baths, not just as a local ‘out the classroom’ learning visit, but as a useful resource to ‘dip into’ and support teaching across a variety of Curriculum areas. You are welcome to book a number of visits throughout the school year. The school programme is currently free of charge, with thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Click HERE to find out how to arrange a free visit.

Learning Menu

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Facilitated Pre-visit Classroom ‘Scene Setter’ (1A)

Curriculum Links: Local heritage study, Citizenship

Duration: 45 mins – 1 hour

This session includes an overview of the uses of Stirchley Baths from early days to closure (1903 to 1988); the story of active citizenship in 1988; overview of 1988 to 2016 history which features a film of the derelict Baths in 2013 after standing empty for 25 years, and testimony from active citizens fighting to save their swimming pool.  Children will use historical enquiry skills, exploring primary and secondary sources.

This is offered as a facilitated session by a member of the Stirchley Baths Learning Team, or teachers may lead this session themselves using a PowerPoint presentation (with film and audio), resources, and a narrative. This will be provided free of charge upon booking.

Preview Narrative

Preview Presentation (static)

History Detectives On-site: Explore the Building (1B)

Curriculum Links: Local heritage study, Citizenship

Duration: 20-25 mins

Working in small groups, the children will use the original architect’s plans for the Baths dated from March 1909 and an activity trail to explore the building, finding evidence of the building’s history. Activities will include: searching for clues, studying architectural plans to way-find, comparing historic plans to the modern day building to identify changes, maths-based tasks, and the use of descriptive language and vocabulary. A great way to enjoy and discover the building in a fun, self-guided way.

Preview the Activity

Original Ground & Basement Architect’s Plans

An Animated History of Stirchley Baths

Curriculum Links: Local heritage study, history

To help pupils understand two of the key aspects in the history of Stirchley Baths we have made an 8 minute animation, working with children aged 6-16. The film, scripted by the film school participants, gives a humorous overview of the early years; when and why the Baths were built (1903 – 1911), and later depicts the changes in the Baths’ use during the Second World War. This can be shown before, during or after a visit.

Why not make your own short (max. 5 min) animation based on your visit? We’d love to see your films and add them to our Learning Resources for schools.

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Interactive Timeline through History (2A)

Curriculum Links: Local heritage study, History, Citizenship

Duration: 45 mins – 1 hour

This activity supports an in-depth local heritage study of the site and its locality using a visual chronology. Each pupil is given a towel on arrival which includes a key event in the history of the Baths. The pupils will help create a  washing ‘time’ line during this session which uses props and discussion to bring the building’s history to life.  We will start our time travel in 1846 and explore changes in social history including changing social and economic conditions, industry, population, urban sprawl, health and hygiene etc. and famous periods e.g.:  Victorian times and the World Wars. This activity supports group participation, communication and presentation skills, the use of descriptive language and historical vocabulary.

This is offered as a facilitated session by a member of the Stirchley Baths Learning Team.

Beryl of the Baths: Interactive Storytelling (2B)

Curriculum links: Local heritage study, drama

(Suitable for KS 1 and lower KS2)

Duration: 45 mins – 1 hour (with extension)

A highly energetic, fast-paced and fun-filled journey through the history of Stirchley Baths using interactive participation and pretend. Pupils will meet Beryl. She has worked at Stirchley Swimming Baths from the very first day the doors were opened in 1911. She is the caretaker, keeper of the key and all-round guardian of the building and she wants to show your class around! This activity supports group participation and the use of descriptive and creative language.

This is offered as a facilitated session. It is led by Toni Midlane, an actress specialising in early years drama. 

(Extension) There is an illustrated booklet to help the children reflect on what they have learnt (to be used on-site, or as a follow-up activity back in the classroom).

Beryl of the Baths Illustrated Booklet

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Building Detectives (3A)

(Suggested extension to 2A)

Curriculum Links: Local heritage study, Citizenship

Duration: 15-20 mins

(For half the class) In small groups pupils are asked to gather evidence about the history of the building and how it was used in the past.  This may include looking at the on-site interpretation; quotes, images and panels, scattered around the building. Evidence should be added to the washing ‘time’ line.

(For half the class) In small groups pupils are asked to gather evidence about how the building is used today. They should seek evidence which suggests that Stirchley Baths is important to the community again. This may include picking up flyers and leaflets, and interviewing members of staff and/or volunteers.

Evidence should be added to the washing ‘time’ line.

Persuasive Letter Writing ‘On-site’ (3B) 

(Suggested extension to 2A and/or 3A)

Curriculum Links: English, Local heritage study, Citizenship, PSHE

Duration: 20-30 mins

Pupils are asked to reflect on the evidence in the ‘timeline’ (2A);  what they have gathered about the importance of the building to local communities in the past (2C) and today (2D) to help form their arguments. Newspaper articles from 1988 are also available (these were used in the pre-visit session in school).

This activity supports children using persuasive language to write a letter for a given purpose and/or audience. It also aims to develop and encourage the pupils’ interest in protecting built heritage in communities from an early age and what it means to be ‘active citizens’ within their communities (school, where they live).

Preview Activity

Making a Point! (3C) 

(Suggested extension to 2A and/or 3A)

Curriculum Links: Drama, Local heritage study, Citizenship, PSHE

Using role play, drama and debating techniques, pupils will explore the use of language and the art of constructively making a point/argument using the Stirchley Baths example as a case study for active citizenship.

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Maths ‘On-site’ Activities (3D)

Supports: Maths, Local heritage study

Duration: 10-20 mins per activity depending on age and ability

Our resources and learning activities use the architecture of the building, plans and key documents from the past and present, to involve pupils working with numbers, measurements, roman numerals, geometry (properties of shape), conversion between different units of measurement and new and old money, calculating perimeter and area, handling data, calculating age, 2D and 3D shapes, tessellation and pattern.

(Each activity can be undertaken by a whole class, or used as a ’round robin’ of different activities for smaller groups.) 

Preview 1 – 2D and 3D Shapes Hunt

Preview Activity 2 – Pattern

Preview Activity 3 – Tessellation

Preview Activity 4 – Area and Perimetre

There are also Additional/Extension Maths Activities available. These can be carried out ‘on-site’ in context with the visit if preferred, or as follow-on work in the classroom. See AFTERS below.

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Maths: Time-Table Trouble! (4A)

Supports: Maths and Local heritage study

Duration: 10-20 mins 

Using the actual timetable which was issued by the Birmingham Baths Department in 1966, pupils are asked to use maths to interpret the timetable. This includes converting £-s-d into modern currency. Children will need to know how to use decimal points and to multiply decimals, and to use the 24hr clock for this activity.

Download Activity

Download Timetable (Resource)

Answer Sheet

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Maths: Heritage Entrepreneurs (4B)

Supports: Maths and Local heritage study

Duration: 10-20 mins

In this activity pupils will investigate how the refurbished Stirchley Baths can pay for itself and bring in income. It includes an in-depth analysis of real budget information, addition, subtractions, percentages etc.

Download Activity

Price List (Resource)

Answer Sheet

Heritage Ambassadors (4C) 

(Suggested extension to 2A, 3B and 3C)

Curriculum links: Geography, PSHE, Citizenship, History

Pupils are asked to draw a map of their journey from home to school and highlight buildings that are important to their lives. These could include school, a place of worship, the family home, a sports hall or anywhere else they go to have fun and meet people. The map should include labels and a key. Pupils are also asked to look for historic buildings and to identify any that are ‘at risk’ of becoming derelict and may require acts of ‘active citizenship’ to prevent this from happening.

Download Activity

An extension to this activity would be to draft letters to local councillors or to building owners and make a case for caring for/developing/preserving/rescuing these buildings ‘at risk’.

Persuasive Letter Writing (4D) 

(Suggested extension to 2A and/or 3A)

Curriculum Links: English, Local heritage study, Citizenship, PSHE

This activity supports children using persuasive language to write a letter for a given purpose and/or audience. It also aims to develop and encourage the pupils’ interest in protecting built heritage in communities from an early age and what it means to be ‘active citizens’ within their communities (school, where they live).

Download Activity & Template

If there are no ‘buildings at risk’ in your local area, why not ask pupils to research and champion other buildings in the city. Look for historic buildings which have groups of active citizens currently campaigning to save them. Below are two examples:

Moseley Road Baths, Moseley Rd, Balsall Heath, Birmingham B12 9AN

Moseley Road Baths, link to website

The Cadbury Barn, Manor Farm Park, Northfield, 389 Bristol Rd S, Birmingham B31 2AB

The Cadbury Barn, link to website

Other useful case links:

Link to Historic England’s ‘Buildings at Risk’ register

Example of a recently rescued derelict factory in Birmingham; The Coffin Works  

We would love to see work which demonstrates how the class have been ‘active citizens’, or would like to be. Please do send us some examples of your class work.

Arty Architecture (4E)

Curriculum Links: Art, Design, Local heritage study, Geography

This activity can be used to help pupils explore the historic environment in the area local to school, by focusing on identifying and documenting architectural detail in historic buildings. Pupils are asked to look for stained glass, designs in window and brickwork, decorative doors and letter boxes and use these to create their own framed pictures.

Download Activity

Art & Creative Writing: Then and Now – Conserving the Past (4F)

Curriculum Links: Art, Creative writing/English, Local heritage study

In 2013, after standing empty and unused for 25 years, the Baths were a symbol of decay; they smelt of damp and corroding ironwork, pigeons fluttered through the echoing corridors and changing rooms, rain splashed on the floor of the empty pool, now covered in mould and pigeon faeces. The former splendor of the Edwardian Baths was gone with every pane of glass in the roof which was smashed, and every plant which grew through the glazed bricks.

We believe it is really important to document the past; not just when buildings were first built or in their ‘hey day’, but also when derelict. They tell a story about neglect and what happens over time when people don’t care for and preserve heritage buildings.  We hope that the Stirchley Baths case study will help pupils understand the social and historical value that historic buildings can bring to their local communities and how important conservation projects are to restore that sense of loss.

We have provided a gallery of images taken in 2013 before refurbishment and restoration work began. We hope that the story of the Baths will inspire pupils to document this stage in the Baths’ history both through artwork and creative writing.  Why not use these images to inspire the writing of a ghost story or a mystery, detective story? Here are a few story starters:

“She looked down at the glass panel in the floor, a mysterious face appeared…”

“The wind rattled through the empty building. Behind the boarded up doors lay a secret…”

“Time may have ravaged the bricks and the memories of swimmers; but there are some events that can never be forgotten…

Mary Chafer wrote a poem about the Bath’s heritage, inspired by memories we had collected. You can read this here.

We would love to see any creative writing or artwork made in response to Stirchley Baths. Please do send us some examples of your class work.

Download Images from 2013

Art: Patterns and Shapes (4G) 

Supports: Maths through Art

Duration: 15-25 mins 

There are many different patterns and shapes in and on the building at Stirchley Baths. They can be found on the walls, floors, ironwork and brickwork. Pupils are encouraged to decide which patterns could be replicated using squares, and to recreate them using mosaic tiling.

The template provided folds into a card. You can provide pens, crayons, paints or purchase mosaic square stickers to create design work.

Download Activity

Framed Mosaic Card Template

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Find out how to arrange a school visit to Stirchley Baths