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LAINet news from Clare Barnes: Hampshire Solent museums and the new Primary History curriculum

Clare Barnes, Learning Officer at the Mary Rose Museum and a member of the LAINet (Learning Access and Interpretation Network) steering group, provides an update on what LAINet has achieved over recent months to help museums rise to the challenge of the new curriculum, and forthcoming opportunities to get involved:

Museums across the region have been looking at opportunities to engage with the new History Curriculum which will come into effect in September 2014. Many museums have had to rethink their programmes as a result of the new chronological approach which sees much of the primary history content finish at 1066. However, there are still opportunities for thematic work post 1066 and an emphasis on local history. For most museums primary children are a key market and after the initial shock of change, education teams around the region are gearing up for September 2014. Unsurprisingly, this has been an important subject of discussion at recent meetings of the Hampshire Solent Museum Learning, Access and Interpretation Network (LAINet). 

We have been very grateful that Pat Hannam, County History Inspector, has been working closely with LAINet to help museums prepare and continue to offer curriculum-linked experiences that are not available in school. In order to meet primary teachers in person, a small team representing museums in the area attended the recent annual Primary History Leadership Conference held at New Place, Shirrell Heath. Using the LinkedIn LAInet group, representatives from the Mary Rose Museum, the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson and Manor Farm & Country Park teamed up to showcase the exciting possibilities on offer.  We all agree that schools working in partnership with museums can transform pupils’ learning. There is no substitute for experiencing history first-hand! Every museum on show brought something different to offer teachers to assist them in integrating museum visits into their planning for the new curriculum.

At the Mary Rose Museum, the opening of the new museum provided a chance to rethink the programme. Despite initial dismay at the proposed changes last year, we have refocused our activities in line with the new curriculum to allow teachers to use the museum in different ways:

  • as a case study in thematic work post-1066
  • as a local study for Portsmouth and Hampshire schools
  • for cross-curricular work in maths, science and literacy

Keeping the best elements of our past programmes, we are confident that we can continue to provide high quality visits which will enrich the curriculum.

Eileen Clegg, Education Officer at the Royal Armouries Fort Nelson, tells us that the new National Curriculum provides an exciting opportunity to review and refresh the education offer across the museum’s three sites (RA Leeds, RA Tower of London and RA Fort Nelson). Education at Fort Nelson will continue to play to the site’s strengths, focussing on its unique location and collection and delivering workshops that cannot be replicated anywhere else, including in the classroom! Key concepts such as chronology and historical enquiry will be taught as pupils embark upon a journey through time, told through the building itself and through its incredible collection of artillery, as well as revisiting local favourites like Florence Nightingale. There is also a strong cross-curricular element at Fort Nelson, as pupils can learn about the science behind the siege weapons in our unique workshops.

Manor Farm & Country Park has also been looking at the new curriculum as an exciting opportunity to evaluate their current educational offer and improve and extend their educational activities. Katherine Gardiner, Heritage & Community Engagement Officer at Hampshire County Council, said 'Victorian & Wartime farm activities have always been popular and will continue, but from September 2014 new programmes for KS1 & 2 will be introduced.'  

  • Then & Now: Focusing History and Science, this programme will look at the local environment and explore the changes of farming history at Manor Farm.
  • Field to Fork: Discover how sustainable the farmland fields and the animals help provide food for our table. This programme will also look at the wider context of the farm in supporting wildlife and the wider countryside. This programme covers Science, DT & Geography.  

If you are interested in finding out more about museum learning in the region and are not already a member, join the Hampshire Solent Museums LAINet LinkedIn group online (To request membership, click Join and your request will be reviewed by the group manager).

Book a place at the next event ‘Museums and the New Curriculum’ at SEARCH, Gosport on 29 April 2014. Organised by Chris Elmer, this afternoon session will bring together museum professionals and teachers to discuss how we can help each other.

Clare Barnes, Learning Officer, Mary Rose Museum