Schools Information and FAQs

When are you open?

The Centre accepts groups daily from the beginning of February to the end of November.

10 am - 6 pm: April, May, June, July, August, September
10 am - 5 pm: February, March, October, November

PLUS Twilight Visit Options with departure up to 10 pm.

During the last week of January and the first week of December, The Centre can take groups (25 +) by prior arrangement.

What's included?

  • Indoor Hands-on Exhibits
  • Workshop Activity
  • Outdoor exhibits in the Discovery Park and Water Planet areas
  • Telescope Tour (optional extra)
  • Science Show (optional extra)
  • Catering (optional extra)

What are the admission prices?
We charge per pupil according to the activities you have booked.
ALL accompanying adults are admitted FREE of charge.

Hands-on exhibits and workshop activity (bridge building or similar)
£5.25 per pupil

Telescope Tour Or Science Show
additional £1 per pupil

Team Challenges with Telescope Tour or Science Show
£7.25 per pupil

Telescope Discovery Tour & Workshop
£7.25 per pupil

Twilight Visit: Hands-on exhibits with Telescope Tour & Catering
£10.75 per pupil
Supervising adults FREE admission, Catering £4.50 pp if required.

How long should we schedule for a visit?

Allowing for travelling time, a visit to The Centre fills your normal school day.
Ideally you should aim for a minimum of 3 hours but your booked activities will be timetabled to fit within whatever times you can be at The Centre.
Groups are welcome to be on site morning, afternoon or evening.

How many pupils & adults can we bring?

The Centre can take up to 200 pre-booked pupils at one time (240 if all from one school). The structured timetable for your day facilitates the movement of each group to different areas and activities. It is recommended that you book as far in advance as possible, especially if you are bringing a large year group.
Our aim is for all children to have a positive experience so to help us achieve this please ensure the children:
  • Know who their group leader is
  • Always stay with their group and supervising adult
  • Know what to do if they become detached from their group
  • Are encouraged to ask lots of questions at the appropriate times
  • Have loads of fun!
Accompanying, supervising adults are ALL admitted free of charge to a maximum 1-1 ratio.

Please advise us at the time of booking if you are bringing a large number of adults to support children with special educational needs.

The supervision & support of accompanying adults is vital to the children so please ensure the adults:
  • Know which children are in their group and their allocated group number on our timetable.
  • Are aware of your focus and aims of the visit.
  • Understand that they are expected to ensure the children behave appropriately and to adhere to the Code of Conduct.
  • Keep to the issued timetable on the day (unless instructed otherwise by a member of science centre staff).
  • Encourage the children to use each exhibit correctly, reading the instructions and sharing etc.
  • Ensure that science centre staff and volunteers are listened to and respected.
  • Turn off their mobile phones.
  • Do not smoke (we are a totally non smoking site, including e-cigarettes and request that adults return to the parking field if they need to smoke).

It is important that children and adults dress appropriately for the weather conditions with sensible clothing and footwear (not flip flops or high heels). You will have to go outdoors to access some areas and it can be cold, muddy etc. 

Everyone should bring a packed lunch and sufficient to drink.
The Café will be open all day and lunch can be ordered.  We do not have a water fountain, but can refill water bottles in hot weather from the Café.

Who will help us on the day?

We have a dedicated team of staff and volunteers who will lead your booked workshops / tours etc.
All have a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) Enhanced Certificate and many are registered as STEM Ambassadors.

ALL staff and volunteers wear uniform and / or name badge.

We will meet you at our entrance reception and lead you all to your base for the day- usually the large white geodesic dome or marquee.

We give a short 'welcome & safety' talk and hand out your timetable before you can access the site.

Where can we leave bags / eat lunch?

Bags & Lunches are left in the geodesic dome / marquee and this is where you return to eat your picnic. There is grass and a paved area outside the marquee which can be used for outdoor picnics in good weather: please note, our risk assessment does not permit school groups to sit near the pond for lunch.

It is not possible to lock the geodesic dome / marquee.
Science Projects Ltd cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage to personal items.

Timetable of activities

On your confirmation documentation, we will have asked you to divide the pupils into a certain number of groups.

On arrival each of the group leaders will be given their timetable: please note we give 1 copy of the timetable per group, and not per adult. 
During our 'welcome' we will explain where you should meet The Centre staff for your activities.

The timetable is prepared by us and gives times for your pre-booked show / tour / workshop etc. In-between these activities your group will be timetable for lunch, shop and exhibit areas.

The indoor corridor of exhibits contains 5 themed exhibition galleries which can be explored in any order. Each group leader should keep their children together to explore one exhibition area at a time, rather than spread out along the corridor.

Each group will also be allocated time to the outdoor exhibit areas of Discovery Park and Water Park (weather permitting).

How do I book?

Contact us to check availability and a date can be held provisionally for up to seven days whilst you organise your transport. 

We take your booking details over the phone so you may like to download a booking form in advacne of contacting The Centre in order to have the following information ready:

  • Preferred date, plus an alternative
  • Expected arrival and departure times
  • Number of pupils and which year group(s)
  • Approximate number of accompanying adults
  • Which workshop activity you would prefer
  • Whether a Telescope Tour or Science Show is required (small additional charge)
  • The intended learning objective of the visit
  • Any special needs within the group, especially wheelchair access as we may need to alter the areas we use for some of your activities
  • Teacher contact details plus email, phone number and school address for invoicing, if different
  • Whether pupils will be using the shop, or if you wish to order 'goody bags'

When all details have been finalised, you will be emailed the confirmation letter, guidance notes for the visit and our Code of Conduct. If you have NOT received this information 2 weeks prior to your visit, please contact The Centre immediately.
You can download copies of our Code of Conduct, guidance notes and site map.
Booking Terms

Final numbers and amendments must be confirmed NO LATER than fourteen days prior to the visit.
Cancellations must be received by us (in writing) NO LATER than fourteen days prior to the visit.

Payment is required seven days PRIOR to the visit, which mean less admin for teachers when they arrive.
As a registered charity we are unable to offer refunds, however in the case of overpayment we will issue complimentary General Admission for absentees.

Methods of Payment
Payment can be made by BACS, card, cash or cheque:
Cheques payable to ‘Science Projects Ltd'.

Telephone: 01323 832731

Where is The Observatory Science Centre?

The Centre is in East Sussex just outside Herstmonceux village, on Wartling Road.

ESSENTIAL driver information
Your time at The Centre is precious and it is vital that drivers know where they are going and how to find us.

It is strongly recommended that you use the link below to obtain directions to The Centre - this map has been pre-programmes with the exact co-ordinates of the CORRECT entrance.
Drivers MUST NOT rely on GPS as some systems will direct you along a narrow lane to the WRONG (closed) entrance of the Herstmonceux Castle Estate resulting in a 15 minute re-route.
Further details of our location are shown in the map

Where can we park?

There is ample FREE parking for all vehicles.
We offer free admission for your coach driver, plus a free cup of tea / coffee from our cafe.

There is a designated hard standing area for coaches located a short 100 metres (approx.) walk from our reception

Please advise your driver that NO coach is permitted to reverse whilst children are standing in the coach park. ALL children must remain seated until your vehicle has parked and is stationery.

Coaches are NOT permitted to drive up Bradley Road (within the estate).

Use the grass field immediately adjacent to the science centre

Ramped access is at the rear of the main centre building, with 4 parking bays. This area is not accessible for coaches.

Do you have a Gift Shop and Cafe?

The Gift Shop is located within the entrance reception and every purchase helps to support The Centre.

It stocks a wide range of science and astronomy related gifts, pocket money toys, souvenirs, books and resources.

If you permit pupils tp bring money, each group will be allocated a time to visit the shop during the day as we cannot accommodate everyone at one time.  Pupils must always be accompanied in the shop by a supervising adult.

The Café is open all day serving drinks, sandwiches, light snacks etc.
You can pre-order lunch boxes (or similar) and options can be discussed with the Cafe Manager.

Do you have your own Risk Assessments?

We provide our own RAs for the site, exhibits, activities etc. all available to download on this website (orange 'buttons', top right hand corner of each page).
The Observatory Science Centre operates in an historic site and visitors must take care at all times. Teachers and accompanying adults are responsible for the appropriate behaviour of their pupils at all times.
Fire Safety
In the event of an evacuation of the building everyone assembles in the outdoor Discovery Park. If you are involved in a workshop, telescope tour or similar, you will be directed by The Centre staff. The teacher in charge of the group will be expected to check that all members of their group are accounted for.

First Aid
The Centre has a first aid room in the hands-on corridor, beside the Café. All visiting schools bring their own first aider but if an incident or accident does occur it must be reported to us and we will assist you.
Guidance for the Visit
School Visit Code of Conduct
Map of the Site
Teacher Preview Visits
Visit organisers are offered a complimentary visit wheneverThe Centre is open. This is highly recommended as an opportunity to familiarise yourself with the facilities and to discuss a future visit. Where possible, please phone in advance to make an appointment and we will endeavour to have a member of staff available to answer your questions. Please identify yourself on arrival and sign in at reception.