Museums and Schools Programme

The four year programme is supported by Arts Council England (ACE) and funded through the Department for Education as a response to key recommendations from Cultural Education: an independent review by Darren Henley.

In 2012, regional and national museums formed 10 partnerships to work with local schools and increase the number of pupils receiving high-quality educational visits. The programme aims to reach schools in areas which have the greatest need and to spark young people’s curiosity and encourage a lifelong passion for culture and learning.

Children on a school trip listening to a volunteer

As part of the Museums and Schools programme, the SS Great Britain Trust partnered with the Science Museum in London to create new and exciting opportunities for local schools.

During the first three years of the project the Trust welcomed 8,283 pupils, from 124 schools in the Bristol area, to Brunel’s SS Great Britain. Pupils benefited from opportunities to:

  • Visit with their class and discover the story of the ship, what life was like for passengers and crew and more about the engineering talents of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Attend summer, family events designed to celebrate their transition into year 7
  • Explore their inner Brunel with the Trust’s award winning game: Full Steam Ahead
  • Share their experiences and enjoy a free return visit with their families.


Find out more about the national Museums and Schools programme and case studies from the SS Great Britain Trust’s project and other participating regions here – GEM Case Studies: Museums and Schools Working Together publication (PDF download)

Full Steam Ahead Game


In 2013, the Trust joined forces with Aardman Animations to create Full Steam Ahead, a new, interactive and educational game. It was designed to encourage pupils’ determination and resilience and to show them how to persevere, problem-solve and learn from their mistakes; just like Isambard Kingdom Brunel!
Full Steam Ahead game played on a tablet in the dry dock
The game takes players through a series of eight shipbuilding challenges, based on those that Brunel faced throughout his career. Successfully completing the challenges earns the player more money and stars, enabling them to progress through the game, buy extra ship parts – such as engines, propellers, sails, coal and paddles – and create the ‘ultimate ship’. Pupils are encouraged to create a ship that can cut through rough seas, carry more cargo, go the furthest distance and even destroy opponents in tug-of-war battles.
The game is FREE for anyone to download as an app.


Schools can unlock a special classroom version with immediate access to all the levels, unlimited money and ship parts using the code 1843SCHOOLS.