Heritage education brings out the best in children and deepens classroom learning

Alongside these opportunities for informal learning, most museums and heritage sites work closely with schools and colleges to help children and young people learn outside the confines of the classroom. Museum pedagogy is based on enquiry, observation, dialogue and a direct physical relationship with objects and spaces. Some children find this liberating; all find it different.

In museums and heritage sites children and young people enter into an unaccustomed relationship with adults too. New demands are made of them; there are fewer or different rules. In breaking free from the routine of the classroom, they have to take responsibility for their own behaviour and learning.

This can often mean that they feel more confident about discussing complex and sensitive issues or trying out a new activity. It may be difficult to prove a conclusive correlation between museum learning and academic attainment. But what is not in doubt is the beneficial impact of learning in heritage settings outside the classroom on the factors that underpin learning, such as cognitive ability, confidence, motivation, problem-solving and communication skills.

“We identified that for many children there was limited experiences outside the home or community…  This is at odds with the broader experiences that more affluent families can provide for their children, which may include swimming lessons, visiting restaurants and going to museums. When we were considering the way in which we would use the EYPP funding, we saw the challenge as being able to provide depth of knowledge, broader experiences and develop children’s cultural capital.”

Lisa Clarke, Headteacher, Comet Nursery School and Children’s Centre, Hackney
National winner of 2017 pupil premium awards

“We must ensure every child can achieve their creative potential, whether that’s as an artist, scientist or an engineer. Our strength as a society and as a competitive economy depend on it.”

Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England
March 2017
Announcing plans for the Durham Commission on creativity and education

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