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My Primary School is at the Museum

My primary school is at the museum tested the hypothesis that there may be beneficial learning, social and cultural outcomes for primary school children and their families when a significant portion of their learning takes place in a museum setting, as well as demonstrating the benefits for museums. 

Groups of pupils from two primary schools and a nursery, from Tyne & Wear, Swansea and Liverpool, were based at their local museum for up to a term between January and June 2016. 

My Primary School is at the Museum Tate Liverpool drawing

Museum-school forum and networking event, 7 March 2017

Following the publication of the My Primary School is at the Museum report (see below), King's hosted a museum-school forum and networking event on 7 March 2017. The findings of the museum-school forum have been published in a further report which can be downloaded here.

Museum School Forum -139Aimed at museum and gallery learning and education staff, school teachers and education specialists, the forum provided an opportunity to share ideas and discuss practical next steps for developing closer museum-school relationships, as well as networking opportunities with other learning and education professionals and a space in which to catalyse the creation of new museum-school collaborations.

The forum was attended by over 150 delegates from the cultural and educational sectors, charities and funders. There was an energised and engaged atmosphere at the event, with many stimulating conversations being created through the sharing of ideas and thoughts around museum-school collaboration.

Museum School Forum -158

Museums Association conference, 16-17 November 2017

171207 MA conf news

On 16 and 17 November 2017, the team behind the project headed to Manchester for the annual Museums Association conference. The three-day event is the largest of its kind in Europe and brings together museums and industry professionals to discuss the latest issues, discover new practices and meet the world’s leading suppliers and consultants.

Thursday saw the first session entitled ‘Out of the classroom, into the museum’, where Nia Williams (National Museum Wales), Russell Dwyer (St Thomas Community Primary School) and Sage Morgan-Hubbard (American Alliance of Museums) headed a panel chaired by King’s Dr Heather King. The hour-long presentation saw each representative talk about their personal experience of integrating primary school learning into the museum environment, offering perspectives from that of a school, museum and the American Alliance of Museums.

A follow-up session on Friday saw project evaluator Kate Measures (Heritage Insider), concept initiator Wendy James (Garbers & James) and Dr Heather King provide valuable insight to heritage professionals on how they can make their museums primary school ready. The discussions focussed on ten ‘top tips’ for a successful school-museum residency which were given out to attendees on a handy one-page sheet.

Read the full news article here

My primary school is at the museum report 

The findings of My Primary School is at the Museum have been published in a public report based on project evaluation commissioned from Heritage Insider Ltd. Download the report.

The report outlines the benefits for museums, schools, and children and their families, including:

  • For children: increased confidence as well as improved social and communication skills; greater engagement with and sense of 'ownership' of local cultural spaces and places.
  • For museums: a deeper understanding of younger audiences, enabling the development of more relevant, engaging programmes; an extended use of their spaces and collections.
  • Schools and teachers: examples of creative ways in which to deliver the curriculum and confidence using out-of-classroom spaces.

My primary is at the museum project film


Film produced by The Service Communications Co-operative, with additional footage from Jake Ryan, for the Cultural Institute at King’s College London.

About the museum-school residencies

The live project took primary school classes directly into museums for their day-to-day school programme. It aimed to create and evaluate a potentially symbiotic relationship between primary schools and museums that could develop into a new model of educational delivery. Such a hybrid model could potentially help to resolve the nation's shortage of primary school places, while simultaneously supporting resilient and sustainable operating principles for our museums. The museums’ collections were used to provide context for a range of school subjects. Facilities at the museums were arranged to enable children to absorb these local collections directly and indirectly with constant connections being made between objects and the curriculum.

Throughout the project, teaching followed primary education best practice and continued to deliver the requirements of the National Curriculum and the Early Years Foundation Stage statutory framework. The museum hosted the school’s day-to-day programme of lessons, including lunches and breaks, and offered a fundamentally different experience from the more usual occasional one-day visits.

The pilot projects and partnerships were:

  • Life Bank Nursery at Kensington Children’s Centre, a pre-school nursery (children aged 3 – 4), who were based at Tate Liverpool from 29 February to 11 March 2016.
  • A Year 5 group (children aged 9 – 10) from Hadrian Primary School in South Shields who were based at Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum in South Tyneside between January and March 2016.
  • A reception year of two forms (children aged 4 – 5) from St Thomas Community Primary School was based at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea for 2 five-week residencies. One form was at the museum from 22 February until Easter, and the second form in May and June 2016.

Find out more - visit our dedicated project blog

The project team have set up an online blog here to act as a one-stop shop for resources relating to the My Primary School is at the Museum project, and anyone looking for more information on running a museum residency. You’ll find top tips for hosting a residency, literature outlining the importance of museums to children’s educational attainment and personal development, and articles which follow the journey of the project from pilot studies to conferences.

Do visit the blog and sign up for updates to stay in touch with the project team.

You can read more about the project in our full report, a news story here, a blog entry by Wendy James, who conceived the project, and a blog entry by Laura Luxton, a teacher at St Thomas Community Primary School whose class took up residency in the National Waterfront Museum for five weeks. Articles have also featured in The Independent and Museums Association

My Primary School is at the Museum lunchtimeProject team

The project was conceived by Wendy James, Architect and Partner at Garbers & James Architects. Garbers & James is an architectural practice specialising in the public cultural sector and Wendy’s extensive experience is particularly focussed towards museums and education. 

Educational support and academic advice was provided by Dr Heather King in the School of Education, Communication & Society at King's, and Dr Jen DeWitt, previously of the School of Education, Communication & Society at King's and now at UCL Institute of Education.

Kate Measures, Heritage Insider, conducted an independent evaluation of the project.

Cultural Space Programme

This project was supported under the Cultural Space Programme. This programme enabled participants, made up of King’s academics and professionals from the cultural sector, to explore new approaches to the development of cultural organisations’ physical and virtual spaces in ways which empower them and their audiences, and informs research and teaching at King’s.

My Primary School is at the Museum Tate Liverpool lesson(All photo images: nursery school children at Tate Liverpool. Photo credit: Jake Ryan)

My Primary School is at the Museum is a collaboration between King’s College London's School of Education, Communication & Society and Kensington Children’s Centre and Tate Liverpool; St Thomas Community Primary School and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea; Hadrian Primary School and Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum (TWAM). It was conceived by Garbers & James Architects and delivered by the Cultural Institute at King’s.

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