English Heritage to bus school children to its sites

Thousands of state schools in England are to be offered free bus journeys to historic sites under a scheme announced by English Heritage.

It will use £120,000 a year to pay for several thousand coaches taking schoolchildren to its venues.

English Heritage said the move, to be funded by donations and legacies to the English Heritage Foundation, could benefit some 30,000 children this year.

This follows a "gradual decline" in school visits in recent years.

More than 10,000 non fee-paying primary and secondary schools in England would be eligible to apply. Admission to more than 400 sites in the organisation's national heritage collection are already free for schools.

According to figures collected by the public body, there were 478,500 "educational visitors" to its sites in 2002-3 - the vast majority of whom were schoolchildren.

However, the number of visits from schoolchildren in 2012 was just 345,000 - suggesting a drop of around 28 per cent.

English Heritage chief executive Simon Thurley said: "People are more likely to visit historic sites if they first visited them as a child," adding for children: "The cost of actually getting to them is beyond the reach of many."

The introduction of the scheme coincides with the centenary of the 1913 Ancient Monuments Act, which enabled the establishment of the National Heritage Collection.

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