Discover Layers of History on School Trips to Krakow

A beautiful and history-rich centre for music and art, Krakow is one of Poland’s oldest cities and presents a fascinating location for school trips. With records of its existence as a trading town dating back to 966 CE, it grew in size and influence to become a flourishing city in the ninth century, and was the capital of Poland for a time. It is full of stories, from the legend that it was founded on the cave of a dragon slain by an ancient king, to the memories of the tumultuous 20th century. If your students have been studying the history of Europe, there are few better places to explore the impact that the events playing out across the continent have had on people’s lives. Here are some of the places that should feature on every itinerary.

The Old Town

The perfect place to get started on school trips to Krakow is the Old Town, or Stare Miasto in Polish, where students can soak up the atmosphere and get a feel for the historic features of the city. As the oldest part of Krakow, it offers insight into the beginnings of this fascinating place. Surrounded by a ring of parkland where the city walls and moat used to be, it feels almost like it belongs to another time altogether, and is packed with interesting sights. Wawel Castle, set on a hill overlooking the Vistula River, is considered the highlight, while the impressive 13th century Town Hall Tower, the 14th century cloth hall (known as the Sukiennice), and the many picturesque squares and pretty churches are all interesting in their own right. The Krakow Historical Museum is located here, providing the perfect way to put the sights into context.


The Old Jewish quarter, known locally as Kazimierz, is perfect for school trips: a vibrant neighbourhood packed with caf├ęs, galleries, and interesting shops, creating a lively atmosphere that students will enjoy, alongside plenty of history to keep them informed. The district, originally a town in its own right, was founded in 1335 by its namesake, King Kazimierz Wielki, and over the centuries developed into an important centre of Jewish culture. Its history took a darker turn under Nazi rule, when it was all but destroyed, but in the last few decades it has flourished once more and is now home to the annual Jewish Culture Festival, as well several worthwhile museums.


While on school trips to Krakow, students can also visit one of the most infamous sites in world history, Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp where thousands were killed. Today, the site remains as a memorial, open – along with its attached museum – for visitors to explore, and is considered by many who have seen it to be a chilling but important experience.

Tracing Old Scottish School Records

In search of old school records from Scotland

I am searching for old school records (1840s-1860s) in order to find out which school my ancestors attended. I understand that it was not compulsory for parents to send their children to school until 1872 but surely there must be records somewhere in Scotland which references to the pupils.

My great grand parents are Robert Stewart who was born at Old Kilpatrick in Dumbartonshire in 1842 and Margaret Cochran(e) who was born at Helensburgh in 1834. Robert’s parents were William Stewart and Ann Livingston(e). William was a cooper by trade and taught the trade to Robert.

This is what I know about researching school records;

School Records

Finding out which school your ancestors attended will take a bit of research. This will need some map reading to find out which school was closest to where your ancestors lived.

The Education Act of 1872 required all children to attend school and it can be difficult to find school records prior to this date. However you may find log books, admission registers, or photographs which do exist somewhere. There are also teacher’s diaries which may be helpful, at least provide interesting reading.

Glasgow kept very good records as they were progressive school boards.

Scotland Street Museum has a good collection of information on a number of different schools.

A register of senior appointments and staff are available, and worth a look.

The teacher training college at Jordonhill has records which may be worth checking out if your ancestor was a teacher.

Tracing the name of a school master in the records would be comparatively easier than finding the names of the children. Parish school masters were nominated by the landowners and the minister of the parish. It was then up to the presbytery to make the final decision to ensure that the nominated person was qualified for the job. The Heritors Records is likely to contain the record of the appointment. This information can be found in the HR repertory,

Finding records of school pupils is difficult, however some may be noted in school log books and they had to be at least 13 years old. Such information would be held by the Scottish Record Office. Many records disappeared or were destroyed after schools closed. Some surviving registers are still kept by the schools themselves while others are held by authority archives. You can check out the Scottish Archive Network catalogue for your ancestor’s school.