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Our Approach

#393 Bringing History to life – Sidegate Primary with Ipswich Museum

What did we do?

Our first step was to create a baseline by gathering information through pupil perception and through questioning teachers about their confidence in teaching history concepts. We planned to work alongside an historian who, through drama and role play, took our Year 4 pupils back in time and bringing an energy and excitement to things of the past. We planned a directed time meeting to be hosted in the Ipswich museum, to overcome barriers for teachers and develop an awareness of the scope of potentially using this service with all children across the school. Furthermore, our selected year group worked alongside our partners at the museum to develop curation skills, This was then further developed through a shared afternoon experience of curating artefacts alongside parents. A museum area has been re-established in school where pupils become curators of their own ‘artefacts’ enabling them to articulate and tell their own stories during our recent Arts Festival.

We have further plans to continue work closely with Ipswich Museum and develop a partnership for teachers as well as ensuring families are familiar with the services on offer. This network has the potential to involve other schools. We will create a timeline throughout the school which will note historic figures linked to the curriculum in every year group and intend this to be interactive with QR codes enabling pupils to investigate further into facts about the past. This will be enhanced with continued work with colleagues form the Ipswich museum to hopefully develop a resident historian to interact with year groups. At our art festival a Viking visited for the day and pupils were able to interact with him and the artefacts he brought to engage interest and develop curiosity. We see the value in nurturing the skills of communicating the past in order to empower pupils to tell their own stories and be informed about the future.

People taking part:

90 Year 4 children

Parents at share afternoon session (approximately 1 adult per child)

Teachers at staff meeting at museum

Whole school plus parents involved at Arts Festival

Y4 spent the day with @IpswichMuseums  learning how to curate objects to tell their story. They have now proudly displayed their labelled items in our Sidegate Museum! Y4 children will teach other children how to curate on our Arts Festival day!


Summary of impact

At the beginning of the project, we sent our children a survey about history and one of the questions was if they had visited a museum before. The majority of our children had not visited a museum before. Taking our children to Ipswich Museum was a fantastic opportunity for our children and we can now say that all of our children have visited a museum. They were engaged throughout the day and were asking questions and seeking answers. Having the opportunity to hold a real life Anglo Saxon artefact in their hands was an incredible opportunity and many understood the significance of this. Mel from Ipswich Museum then came and did a workshop with our children which focused on curation and how to curate objects. Children brought in a special toy of their own and learnt what information needed to be given to tell the story of the toy for future generations.

The children learnt what it meant to be a curator and what this job involved. Many of our children didn’t know that this job existed, so to make them aware of these job roles for later in life was fantastic.

In the afternoon, the children’s parents joined us and the children showed their parents how to curate a kitchen utensil that they had brought in from home. The children were able to explain and articulate to the parents what information was important and they taught others how to curate. We gave the parents a questionnaire from the session and we asked if the session had inspired them to visit a museum this summer.

98% of parents said they would definitely be intending to visit a museum this summer. This has a positive impact by increasing the cultural capital of our children. To further this skill, we had children from Year 4 hold an activity in our Sidegate Museum for Arts Festival. Parents, visitors and children from other year groups visited the museum and our children taught them how to curate some stationery objects. They explained what curation means and showed them their own examples which have been displayed. They were then able to apply the skills they had learnt to new objects and learn how to explain the process to older and younger children.

The staff session at Ipswich museum allowed our teachers to learn about what the museum can offer to support our learning and curriculum. Many teachers said that they weren’t aware that the museum was open to year groups for free or that the museum offered experiences that link with our curriculum. Many teachers left inspired and the meeting opened up the discussion about the ways that the museum can support and enhance our curriculum from September.

We learnt the importance of building sustainable relationships with cultural organisations to ensure that these don’t become one of experiences, but can be built into the curriculum and enable quality first teaching to be delivered.

Are there parts of the project you will continue to develop and deliver?

Our Year 4 children became curators of our Sidegate Museum and showed other children in school how to curate objects.

An interactive timeline will be created in the school (this is scheduled for Autumn 1) Network being established with Museum, education partners and schools. Pursuing developing a resident historian to visit every year group throughout the school year. Further visits from Ipswich Museum in July to cover emotional design of museum displays and providing audio guides for a museum visit. We hope that some of our children can use the skills they have learnt to help to develop the museum next year.

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Alice Bloomfield, Sidegate Primary School