“Try not to have a good time – this is supposed to be educational.”

Charles Schulz’s views sum up the hurdle facing heritage officers when it comes to providing outreach activities for schools.
It’s a challenge for any setting to meet the expectations of children who view the words “school trip” as shorthand for non-stop entertainment, whilst at the same time reassuring teachers that enjoyment need not be a barrier to achieving national curriculum requirements.

During March, we ran 3 primary school sessions at Heritage Quay under the title “It’s never too early to think about University.” We wanted to raise awareness of our collections and promote aspirations of university amongst primary age children. Our objectives were to introduce the archive service, provide opportunities for handling original artefacts, and offer campus tours led by current students. All to be done in two and a half hours, and with maximum enjoyment had by everyone!

Our Rugby League collection provided the ideal starting point for activities to engage the children’s interest. Colourful Rugby international caps, gleaming trophies and the blood and mud stained England Rugby shirt belonging to Dai Jenkins, all helped bring to life Heritage Quay’s role in preserving this important aspect of local and sporting history. Meanwhile, other groups quizzed members of the Heritage Quay team about what happens in the search room, why the strong room is so cold and how you play music on a record player. Everyone enjoyed the curvy screen, and the campus tour also went down well, with the school students relishing the opportunity to ask student Ambassadors such questions as “do you get a free iPad?” and “Have you ever regretted your choice of university course?”

It’s early days, and similar workshops showcasing other collections and meeting other national curriculum requirements are under development. However, the pilot activities have gone down well, and even Charles Schulz might have been happy with feedback from the children such as: “It was such a great trip…I was learning and having fun at the same time!”

Trizia Wells
Heritage Quays, Learning and Engagement Officer

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