Back to school – GA’s future education resources
John Putley - Hub Facilities Manager writes -
One of the things I'm looking at during the enforced Corona virus lock-down is our education resources. I’ve been delivering learning and outreach activities for Gloucestershire Archives for about 10 years and am always thinking about our interaction with schools and how we can help teachers.
The biggest single problem that we (and most other heritage education organisations) face is finding out exactly what teachers want. Should we concentrate our efforts on producing ‘off-the-peg’ resources on topics or detailed lesson plans for curriculum subjects or simply provide thematic material that teachers can use as they want. Should we focus on primary (Key Stage 2) or secondary (Key Stages 3 & 4) or both (remembering that they are radically different in terms of curriculums). At the same time one has to remember how teachers are trained and what they are familiar with using, changing demands on teachers due to curriculum changes, OFSTED rules and regulations, the policy of individual schools and possibly the most dramatic of them all; the school secretary – that formidable creature who stands like Cerberus guarding the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving….. or to prevent anybody getting anything to the teachers!
In the past, most of our education material has been geared towards project-based education resources, whereby if we were involved with a project, we’d create a dedicated education resource for the project. An example is the education material developed for the Gloucester Rugby Heritage Project. To keep updating them requires a lot of input (and knowledge of teaching changes) which is difficult – and one reason why they have now been taken down from the rugby heritage website. Some well established heritage organisations can establish great ongoing programmes – but these take a lot of funding that smaller organisations can't match! A good example is the National Gallery’s Take One Picture scheme. This takes a picture from the gallery’s collection and uses it to inspire cross-curricular work in primary classrooms. Some years ago the MLA (Museums Libraries & Archives Council) funded us to see if we could develop something similar for archives, which led to our Take One Prisoner resource using a 19th century gaol register (https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/archives/learning-for-all/key-stage-2/take-one/take-one-prisoner-online-resource/).
Example of Take One Prisoner resources
This was very well received but still took some time and effort to create the basic resource. I recently found out that not only is this still popular but is used by the University of Gloucestershire in their teacher training programme. The university will be using it as a case study of how to use archives in education at a forthcoming teaching conference – which is extremely gratifying to know!
Example lesson plan
So, what is the best way forward? After much thinking and discussion, for the future we have decided to create thematic image banks for teachers to use. This seems to be the simplest and most useful way forward (which also matches feedback obtained from teachers). By providing images - by which we mean images of documents and photographs – we’re hoping to create something that teachers can dip in and out of, using the images in their classrooms with their students in whatever way suits them best. It will be easier to update and we can add themes when required. It also requires much less input from us as we won’t have to develop the resources but can instead focus on the broader themes. It will also enable us to offer resources for more than just history (geography and art are obvious examples) and should also prove useful for both primary schools and secondary schools. Obviously this will take a bit of time to do – especially currently – but as my old physics teacher Mr Phillips used to constantly say to us “There’s no time like the present! Get on with it!”
For more information contact John Putley - firstname.lastname@example.org