News & Opportunities
Museums pick up tips on how to work with schools
On Thursday 20th November 2014, a group of museum staff and volunteers came together for the 'Working with Schools' training day (as part of the Kent-wide 'Building Engagement' Programme), led by Museum Education Consultant, Judith Carruthers.
It was a busy day, with lots to cover, and so we started with a warm up exercise identifying what we think makes a good school visit, and what the barriers for schools might be. The group flagged up the importance of the 'hands-on' element that museums can offer, and that schools come to museums as they see us as the experts.
We talked about charging for visits and was encouraged by Judith that if a museum has a quality offer, then don't be afraid to charge; ask for a fixed fee per visit instead of per child. More tips included, making booking forms easy and provide guidance for assessing the risk of your site.
The group then learnt more about the jargon that is used in schools, such as SMSC, EYFS, and the difference between a free school and an academy. The concern over Safeguarding issues was raised and whether volunteers should be DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checked or not.
Roz Meredith, Learning Officer at Maidstone Museum gave us a short presentation on how they have tailored their existing offer to meet the new National Curriculum requirements. This was a great opportunity for participants to find out about how a busy learning programme is developed and managed in one of our county's larger museums. Leanne MacDonald from Artswork and Emma Crook from Royal Opera House (our Kent bridge organisations funded through Arts Council) also joined us and shared information on teaching schools and Arts Award.
Above all, museums need to ask themselves why they want to attract schools; is it to support the local community, and the school is a key part of this community; is it to increase your visitor/user numbers; or is it out of an obligation because you feel you should? Can you physically accommodate full class groups; do you have enough staff/volunteers to support a visit? And always keep evaluating and updating your offer, making it relevant, in order to keep your teachers and young visitors engaged.
- "One of the best [training days] I have attended and I learnt a lot. Very well pitched and delivered by Judith. There was a lot to take in but it's all there to be looked at and mulled over. Also a great bunch of small museum people, a joy to be with." (participant)
For lots of useful resources and links, visit the 'Working with Schools' resources page.
Don't forget, museums in Kent & Medway are entitled to apply for a 'Building Engagement Support Package' to help them develop their offer.