How education group visits work
This information is only relevant for Home Ed groups booking onto our term-time education programme. Don’t worry about this if you’re coming on one of our dedicated Home Educator days!
- Education visits are organised in terms of groups
- Each group can have a maximum of 30 people
- Each group will follow its own separate itinerary on the day
- If your group has booked any interactive workshops as part of your visit, these will be booked in at specific times
- Each group will also have a 30 minute lunch slot in one of our indoor picnic areas, booked at a specific time
- We will send your group’s itinerary to the person in charge of booking your trip, at least 2 weeks before your visit. Please speak to them if you have not received your itinerary by this time.
- If you are bringing more than one child, they may be in different groups. Please be aware that different groups will probably be having workshops and lunch at different times.
Please note that apart from any booked workshop sessions, your time exploring the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre will be self-guided.
Phone free zone
Jodrell Bank is a live radio observatory. Mobile phones interfere with our radio telescopes, which are in use 24 hours a day. We therefore operate a radio-quiet policy and require that all visitors set their phones to flight mode, or switch them off.
During a visit:
- Mobile phones must not be used on site for calls, texts, internet, Bluetooth, or other wireless communication, for any reason.
- Mobile phones must not be left switched on, unless they are on flight mode.
- If you may need to be contacted during the day, please give out our main reception line: 01477 571 766. Our staff will then relay the message to you.
- If you need to make a call during your visit, you are welcome to use one of our landlines; simply ask a member of our staff.
- You are welcome to use your mobile to take photos; provided it is set to flight mode.
Did you know: The Lovell telescope is so powerful, it could pick up a mobile phone signal on Mars!
What to bring on the day
||A copy of your itinerary, or booked workshop times. If using a mobile device, please ensure you download your itinerary for offline viewing, and set your phone to flight mode
||A time keeping device. You are welcome to use your phone as a clock, provided it is set to flight mode
||If you wish to make use of our exhibition worksheets, please print these out and bring them with you (see ‘worksheets’ below)
||If you wish to make use of our lunch storage trolleys, we recommend reusable lunch boxes to cut down on single-use waste! Please note, our lunch trolleys are not big enough to hold full group set of backpacks!
||Part of the Discovery Centre is outside, so please bring weather appropriate clothes.
Please note that apart from any workshop sessions you may have booked, your group will be self-guided around the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre; we cannot offer tour-guides.
To help guide you around our exhibitions, we have created a set of worksheets that you can download, print, and bring with you on the day.
Structure of the day
Dedicated Home Educator days
Please make a note of the time and location of any workshop sessions you have booked. Other than these sessions, you are welcome to explore the Discovery Centre in a self-guided manner.
Term-time education group visits
The person in charge of your booking will receive a detailed itinerary (as well as a map of the site) before your visit.
Each group (up to 30 people in each group) will follow their own separate itinerary during the day. Please note, if you have children in different groups, workshops and lunch will likely be at different times.
During your trip your group will be timetabled for:
- Any workshops you have booked
- A lunch slot
- Any remaining time in our exhibition spaces (self-guided time)
It is important that you are as prompt as possible for your workshop sessions and lunch slot as other groups are also likely to be scheduled in during the day.
We will try our best to work around any unforeseen circumstances during the day. This may include altering your itinerary. Please note that if your group’s arrival is delayed, we may need to shorten your workshop sessions, depending on other factors.
Examples of a typical timetable can be seen below:
Getting to us
- The postcode to use for Sat Nav is SK11 9DW (do not use SK11 9DL, as this will lead you to the wrong entrance)
- Our entrance lies on Bomish Lane, just off the A535
- Please note there are no direct public transport routes to Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
- For more details, please see getting here
Car park charges
Dropping off/picking up only
Any parents/guardians dropping off or picking up children (i.e. not parking in the car park), do not have to pay car park charges.
Please collect a ticket from the machine upon entering the car park. You can stay for up to 20 minutes in the car park without the need to validate your ticket at reception. Scan your ticket at the exit barrier to leave the car park.
All cars parked in our car park for longer than 20 minutes are subject to the Discovery Centre’s car park charges. Please pay for your parking at reception.
There is no parking charge for:
- Minibuses and coaches
- Jodrell Bank annual pass or local pass holders
- Blue badge holders
However, you will still need to collect a ticket upon entering the car park, and get it validated (free of charge) at reception. When leaving, please scan your validated ticket at the exit barrier.
Upon arrival, please head to the reception desk to sign in.
You will be provided with wristbands. Please keep these on during your visit as they indicate you have paid. If you wish, you can store any lunch bags in one of our storage trolleys.
Please note, we cannot allow arrivals to the Discovery Centre before 10am. If you arrive early, you are welcome to wait on our picnic benches in front of our entrance building.
Dedicated Home Educator days
There will be plenty of indoor and outdoor picnic space available on the day for you to eat any packed lunches you bring. Please note, some of our indoor spaces may only be available at certain times. You will be given this information on arrival.
You are welcome to store items throughout the day in our schools lunch storage shed, but please be aware this will be left unlocked.
Term-time education group visits
You will be allocated a time slot in one of our indoor picnic areas.
- Upon arrival, you can deposit lunches in one of our lunch storage trolleys, which are stored near reception.
- We recommend that you bring lunches in reusable lunch boxes to cut down on single-use waste.
- The University of Manchester is dedicated to reducing single-use plastic waste – please help us!
If your group would prefer to eat outside, we have plenty of outdoor picnic spaces available around the site which you are welcome to use.
If you are wanting to purchase lunch, the Planet Pavilion café is open from 10am to 4.00pm.
Please be aware the café may be busy between 12-2pm.
For more information please see our café page.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has been designed to be accessible to all. We try our best to meet all requirements, but if you have a query, please contact us.
For those with limited mobility and wheelchair users:
- All our buildings are fully accessible
- Accessible toilet facilities available in all buildings
- Exhibition areas and interactive displays cater for wheelchair users
- Workshops (including the Inflatable Planetarium) are fully accessible
For those who are deaf and hard of hearing:
- Induction loops are fitted in exhibition and education spaces
- All our video exhibits are subtitled
Dedicated Home Educator days
If anyone in your group has any additional needs that you think we need to be aware of, please let us know by emailing us.
Term-time education group visits
As part of the booking process, we ask the person in charge of your trip about any relevant Special Educational Needs.
If you are unsure whether any SEN requirements relevant to your party has been passed on, please speak to the person in charge of your trip.
Since SEN requirements are sensitive personal information, we ask not to be told any names. However, it is helpful to know which group SEN requirements relate to.
What's on site
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre consists of:
- Three buildings: the Planet Pavilion, the Space Pavilion, and the Star Pavilion
- A large outdoor area surrounding the Lovell telescope
- 35 acres of gardens, including a playground
Click here to explore our interactive map.
At the heart of Jodrell Bank is the giant Lovell telescope, which has been doing world-class radio astronomy since 1957. You can learn more about the Lovell telescope here and you can keep an eye on it here.
In our interactive exhibitions your learners can find out how the Lovell telescope works and about some of the objects in space it observes. They can also learn about the planets in our Solar System, plus they can put their space questions to our expert staff!
- We are open to the public from 10am to 5pm daily, so you will likely be sharing our exhibition spaces with members of the public and any other visiting education groups
- The Lovell telescope is sometimes undergoing maintenance from our engineers during the day; during these times it will not be observing or moving.
- Visitors are not allowed into the observatory building or up the Lovell telescope. The observatory is a working environment and the Lovell telescope is in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
This is the first building you will enter upon arrival. It contains reception, the café, the gift shop, and the Jodrell Bank Orrery; a giant clockwork model of the moving Solar System.
Although the sizes of the planets and Sun are not to scale, nor are the distances between them, Orreries correctly show the relative time planets take to orbit the Sun. When moving, one Earth year in real life equals one minute for the Orrery.
Please note your time here will be self-guided, however an Explainer will usually be present under the Orrery to answer any questions. You can also use the Planet Pavilion section of your worksheets.
This building contains our main interactive exhibition, along with two teaching spaces; the Classroom and Events Space.
Please note your time in the exhibition area will be self-guided, however an Explainer will be present to answer any of your group’s questions. You can also use the Space Pavilion section of the worksheets to help you.
The Space Pavilion exhibition includes:
- A live data feed from the Lovell telescope (please note: this is in the form of a data plot and not an image of what the telescope is ‘seeing’)
- A hands-on model of the Lovell telescope
- Interactive interviews with some of the scientists and engineers who work at Jodrell Bank
- An infrared thermal camera
- The gravity well; a hands-on model of a black hole
- The ‘Big Bang cone’ playing the ‘sound’ of the first 100 million years from real data
- A usable, see-through Newtonian telescope
- Information about the biggest telescopes around the world and some of the astonishing images they have created
- Much more!
The Star Pavilion contains a teaching space and indoor lunch area. There is no exhibition area in this building.
The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre has a number of outdoor exhibits and activities.
Since this is outside, please bring weather appropriate clothes in case the weather is inclement.
Our outdoor exhibits include:
- The Telescope Pathway: Follow the path around the base of the Lovell telescope. Information boards along the way tell the story of the construction of the Lovell telescope and provide information about some of the objects it observes.
- Outdoor interactive exhibits: Find out more about Jupiter’s rotation, plus experiment with gravity just like Galileo!
- The Whispering Dishes: These demonstrate, using sound, how the curved shape of the Lovell telescope amplifies faint signals (please note the Lovell telescope is not actually detecting sound, but radio waves – a form of electromagnetic radiation, similar to light).
Gardens & Playground
Jodrell Bank contains 35 acres of gardens, which include two national collections. The gardens also include our outdoor Play Area, and apiary (bee hive)!
Please allow at least 30 minutes to explore the gardens and/or play area, as it is a bit of walk from the rest of the Discovery Centre.
Please note that the gardens close early during the winter months and that if the weather is severe (e.g. strong winds) the gardens will be closed all day.
This information is relevant if you have booked any of our interactive workshops as part of your visit.
Our education workshops last 50 minutes.
- All Inflatable Planetarium sessions occur in the Events Space in the Space Pavilion building.
- Other workshops will either be held in the Star Pavilion or in the Classroom/Events Space in the Space Pavilion.
- Please check your information for the times and locations of your workshops.
Please arrive promptly for any booked workshop sessions, as other groups will likely be booked in before or after your group.
You are more than welcome to take photos during workshops, however video recording is not permitted.
If you should require first aid during your visit, please contact a member of Jodrell Bank staff. There are always first aiders on site during opening hours and our staff will be able to provide assistance. Our site is also equipped with two automatic defibrillators.
Please do not use your mobile phones. Mobile phones cannot be used on site for any reason. If you need to use a phone, please see a member of our staff, who will show you to one of our landlines.
Your role on the day
Children must be accompanied by responsible adults for the duration of your visit. Please note that parents/guardians remain responsible for children whilst at Jodrell Bank.