Museum’s Schools Programme

David Livingstone Birthplace’s exciting schools programme takes pupils on an adventure around the museum, learning about the multi-layered histories linked to the famous Scot. 

Through the lens of David Livingstone, the museum’s schools programme teaches pupils all about the life and history surrounding the famous Scot. Each school group will explore Livingstone’s story and learn more about the people who helped him on his travels.

David Livingstone, who was a Scottish physician and pioneering Christian missionary, became a life-long abolitionist and well-respected explorer in Africa. The museum offers visitors a more in-depth perspective on the story of Livingstone, using its globally significant collection to reframe Livingstone’s achievements, his failures, and the opportunity his story holds to encourage a deeper understanding of marginalised histories and Scotland’s role in slavery and colonisation. 

The museum uses Livingstone’s story to help schools teach anti-racism and colonial history. The workshops at the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum can be an aid in educating school children about the important topics surrounding Scottish colonial history. Through each workshop children will gain an understanding of Scotland’s history, including its historical role in empire and colonialism.

The museum’s learning team has spent the past four years thoroughly planning the programme by taking part in outreach sessions with schools, piloting sessions and learning from teachers what would be the most useful to them and their pupils. The learning team worked alongside partners including WOSDEC, who are a Development Education Centre working to ensure all educators across Scotland have access to high-quality Professional Learning opportunities, and a University of Glasgow student placement.

The programme welcomes school groups of all ages and abilities, offering workshops and tours linked to the Curriculum for Excellence and Sustainable Development Goals. Between January and June 2022, the museum welcomed 555 school pupils from around 20 schools.

Elena Trimarchi, Learning Manager at the David Livingstone Birthplace Museum, said: “We are really excited about continuing to work with schools to address the important topics relating to our museum collection. Museum objects have the power to ignite curiosity and critical thinking through linking people, histories and places. We are continually reviewing and adapting our learning programme to offer pupils the chance to learn about society today through looking at the past.”

Opportunities on offer as part of the Schools Programme

Curious Club

Suitable for: P1-P3 Length: 60 minutes 

Come on an adventure around our museum, learn about home life in the past and journey with us
to Southern Africa. Your class will learn about the people who helped Livingstone on his travels, have the chance to dress up as a roarsome lion, play music and take part in storytelling.

Industrial Revolution, the BIG questions 

Suitable for: P5 to P7 Length: 90 Minutes 

Use our museum collection to answer the BIG questions about the Industrial Revolution. Consider how people all over the world were (and still are) affected by the innovations to technology and industry during this time.

Agents of Empire? Christianity, Commerce and Critical Thinking 

Suitable for: S1 to S4 Length: 90 Minutes 

This workshop includes original source analysis, class debate, object handling and zine-making activities. We will discuss the role of missionaries and explorers in Western expansionism, and the colonial project of the British Empire.

Coast to Coast Handling Box 

Suitable for: P4 to P7 

Cost: £60 for three-week loan 

Explore the theme of navigation through our handling objects, maps, games, and activities. The box includes quality replicas of tools Livingstone used to navigate the continent of Africa.

Digital workshops 

Virtual Object Handling 

Suitable for: P2 to P4 Length: 30 minutes 

Engage with real objects from the museum collection, using them as a tool to explore the geography, culture, and languages of Africa, and how these link to cultures in Scotland.

David Livingstone & Global Scotland 

Suitable for: P5 to P7 Length: 45 minutes 

Look at Scotland’s connections with countries in Africa through object handling, original source analysis, historical investigation, and class debates.

COP26 Legacy and Climate Activism 

Suitable for: S1 to S3 Length: 45 minutes 

Discuss the outcomes of COP26 and encourage your class to consider their own role in the climate crisis. Finish by making zines! We will provide a materials list that you can make available to your pupils.

Introduction to Cultural Careers 

Suitable for: S1 to S6 Length: 30 minutes 

Inspire your pupils to consider the cultural sector
as a viable, attainable, and attractive option for the future. We go behind the scenes and show what it’s really like to work in a museum.

This session is developed with Scottish Government’s career education standard in mind.

Sensory Museum Tour 

Suitable for: ASN/ASL secondary schools Length: 60-90 minutes 

A sensory museum tour, inspired by Livingstone’s childhood in the mill. Followed by an object handling session, your class with learn about the journey of cotton from seed to cloth. The final activity is a musical instruments session, join in!

If you would like to find out more about the schools programme at David Livingstone Birthplace please visit


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