Almond Valley

Study Visits for Primary Schools

Almond Valley is a charity that exists to promote learning. We particularly welcome study visits from schools in which the experiences enjoyed at Almond Valley add value to specific studies carried out in the classroom. We offer a range of curriculum-linked discovery sessions and other learning experiences, exclusively for such learning visits, and a specially discounted entry price.

Groups that qualify for this subsidy are charged at £5.00 per child, with one accompanying adult free for every seven children (for primary classes), or one supervisory adult free for every four children (for nursery classes), and any additional adult charged at £5.00

Such discounted study visits are available:

  • Only to teacher-led outings from primary schools, or nursery classes operated as part of a primary school and sharing their premises. All other types of pre-school group should use the groups visit booking form.
  • Such study visits must be pre-booked, include at least 20 children, and take place mid-week during term time.

Throughout term-time, we offer a choice of "discovery sessions" on topics that link to the Curriculum for Excellence and are intended to support classroom studies. Such sessions require the full attention of children and need to take place in small groups away from other distractions. The spaces in which these learning activities take place have a limited capacity, hence the need to restrict the number of adult helpers attending these.

In addition to the discovery sessions, there's programme of activities and arena sessions which allow larger groups to meet many of the farm livestock and learn about activities on the farm. These public sessions may be shared with a number of other groups, and need not be booked in advance.

Sorry, we can't accept group bookings until Covid restrictions are further relaxed.

Your Choice of Discovery Session

Discovery Sessions are hands-on learning activities that can be linked to curriculum studies and are delivered by an experienced demonstrator. Sessions usually involve groups of 15-20 children and last about 20 minutes. Large parties are therefore split into a number of sessions. Children can only receive a single discovery session during the course of their visit.

Little Creatures

A gentle introduction to the smallest creatures at Almond Valley, including rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks. The session can be adapted to suit children of all ages and will address science outcomes related to classification of living things by comparing and contrasting their various characteristics.

My Big Responsibility

A closer look at many of the small animals, focusing on the care that's needed to ensure that they remain happy and healthy, then reflecting on the responsibilities of keeping a pet. The session can address learning outcomes related to social responsibility, including the importance of good hygiene.

Meet the Animals

Our animal house is home to many farm animals, which normally include goats, sheep, cattle and horses. Meet the residents, and consider the characteristics that they share, and what makes them different. This activity is suitable for primary school children aged 5+, and can address learning outcomes related to classification and characteristics of living things.

Farming Life

A further opportunity to encounter many of the larger farm livestock, and consider their role on the farm. This experience can be applied to studies of where food comes from, or to reflect on how agricultural practices and farming life have changed through the years

What’s Hatching?

A study of growth and life-cycles examining fertile eggs from a range of birds on the farm. We will consider development inside the egg, the hatching process, and how young birds change as they grow up. This session is suitable for primary school children aged 5+ and can address learning outcomes related to life cycle and reproduction.

Harvest and Garden

Available only during the Autumn term this offered a hand-on exploration of our field crops, orchards, polytunnel and wartime garden to support historical themes or study of diet and sustainability issues.

Shale Oil Stories

For West Lothian schools, we offer special sessions in the museum that explore the history of the shale oil industry, community life, and other local history themes. We're happy to adapt these to focus on a particular community or a particular interest of a class.

What Happens Next ?

Complete the on-line form then press the submit button to send it off to us. We'll check things over and e-mail you a confirmation of booking, usually within 24 hours. Please estimate as accurately as possible, the number of people in your group and provide a realistic arrival and departure time. If any of these details change significantly after you've submitted your booking, please let us know on

About four weeks before the date of your visit we'll e-mail you a timetable for your visit, indicating how your party should be broken down into smaller groups to suit discovery sessions and other booked activities, and providing details where each group needs to be at a particular time. You may wish to appoint someone to be in charge of each sub-group.

Practical Matters

On arrival, the group leader should report to reception and let us know the precise number of adults and children in their group. Payment can be made by school cheque or credit card, or alternatively we can invoice local authority organisations. We will then direct the rest of your group onto the site, using a side entrance if things are busy.

Almond Valley normally opens at 10am, but an earlier arrival can be arranged if required. We find that the majority of school visitors choose to arrive between 10.00 and 10.30 and depart between 13.30 and 14.00. There is a range of covered (although unheated) spaces on the site suited for eating packed lunches. We can reserve picnic space at appropriate times if this is required.

Health and safety is our paramount concern, and we take every practical measure to minimise any risk associated with animal borne infections. There are ample toilet and handwashing facilities with soap and hot water, and do everything practical to promote good hygiene practice. We encourage all teachers and leaders to study Health and Safety Executive advice on farm visits (which can be downloaded from this site), and ensure that those in their charge follow good practice.

We advise against reliance on hand sanitiser gels, as these do not provide the same level of protection as traditional supervised handwashing. A recent risk assessment is available to download, and we would be happy to arrange free admission if a teacher wished to visit to conduct their own risk assessment

There's much to engage, explore and encounter on the Almond Valley site and plenty to enhance the learning value and enjoyment of the trip. There are also a number of optional activities that require advance booking. The "Oilshale Adventure Zone" is a rough-and-tumble indoor play area best suited for the over fives. Play sessions can be reserved at no additional cost, subject to availability. There are also other play facilities, included the sheltered "Paraffin Works" that are available to all. "Morag's Meadow" is a heated soft play space suitable for children aged 3 to 8 years old. Soft play sessions can be booked at £1 per child. Tractor and trailer rides operate only for pre-booked groups during termtime. The short trip around the cropping field costs 50p per person.On selected dates there are train trips on our narrow gauge railway, at a cost of £1 per person, advance booking essential.

Almond Valley has ample free coach parking.

wash your hands The goat gang Chick time Lamb's bottles Caring for goats