Our primary school programs – Making History (Stage 1), Convict Times (Stage 2), and Then, Now and Tomorrow (Stage 3) – are an opportunity for your students to engage in enquiry-based learning, interact with historical artefacts and explore a former convict gaol and dockyard with a specialist education guide. Critically, or programs meet NSW Syllabus and Australian Curriculum Outcomes.
Each program is bookended by teacher-led pre- and post-visit lesson plans, forming an entire lesson sequence. Further, lessons include direct teaching and activities and meet the needs of different learners. These resources are emailed to your school at the time of booking.
Note: Our education tours will be available until 14 December 2023. We look forward to offering these programs again in February 2024.
What is history and how is it made? Making History develops Stage 1 student knowledge and understanding of historical concepts as they consider how history impacts their lives.
During this excursion, students will investigate and examine various ‘making’ practices from Cockatoo Island’s history - from Convict-made buildings to the dockyard and industrial precinct. They will learn that acts of making in the Past contribute to the community in the Present. Content assists students to connect the abstract idea of history with the practice of Historical Inquiry.
Students will consider:
Why were convicts sent to Sydney, how did they live, and how do we know? 'Convict Times' guides Stage 2 students to understand how past decisions and beliefs are still evident today.
Students will learn how global events led to the colonisation of Australia. They will examine the convict-made buildings, identify primary and secondary sources and consider why some events become well-known stories or folklore. Students will reflect on the early justice system and consider ideas of crime and punishment.
This Stage 2 excursion provides opportunities for students to learn why convicts were sent to Cockatoo Island and what their living conditions were like.
Students will consider:
How has Australian society changed over time and what remains from the past today? 'Then, Now and Tomorrow' examines society through the lens of Cockatoo Island’s layered history.
Students investigate the role of convict labour as a government resource and examine Past ideas of justice and reform.
Students then consider the significance of Cockatoo Island’s shipbuilding workforce to Australia’s World War II contribution. They will gain an understanding of past industrial practices and how underlying attitudes to class have changed work and safety standards over time.
Throughout the excursion, students will examine buildings, ruins, murals, and consider how primary and secondary sources work together to inform peoples understanding of the Past. Students will also learn about community action and its role in protecting vulnerable heritage spaces.
Planning to visit? Refer to the information below ahead of your trip.
Ferries: The easiest way to get to Cockatoo Island is by public ferry. The F3 and F8 services operate to Cockatoo Island daily, departing from Circular Quay and Barangaroo as well as from wharves along Parramatta River. For further information, including timetables, visit the Transport NSW website.
Opal cards: If your group is travelling to Cockatoo Island by ferry, each person will need to be in possession of an Opal Card with sufficient funds. Alternatively, you can pre-purchase Opal One Day Travel Passes for their entire group. To arrange Opal One Day Travel Passes for your group, visit opaldaypass.transport.nsw.gov.au.
On-street parking is available for cars near the ferry wharves at Woolwich, Greenwich, Chiswick, Huntleys Point, Drummoyne, Birchgrove and Balmain. The Clarkes Point Reserve Carpark (access via Clarke Road, Woolwich) offers parking for coaches and is a short walk from the Woolwich ferry wharf.
Our primary school programs contain stories (and may contain images and/or visuals) of deceased people.
Most areas of the island are wheelchair accessible; however, there is a steep incline from the lower island to the upper plateau, and – owing to the island’s industrial heritage – there are uneven surfaces as well as some buildings not accessible by wheelchair
Suitable walking shoes, sun protection, wet weather gear (if needed) and packed lunches.
If you decide to cancel a booking, please provide 48 hours’ notice to avoid being charged a fee to cover casual staff costs.
Bookings for our primary school programs will proceed regardless of weather conditions except in the event that ferry services advise against travelling to Cockatoo Island due to extreme weather conditions.
Interested in visiting Cockatoo Island as part of a school excursion? Here are some useful resources.