The University of Leicester's Department of Museum Studies addressed a high profile conference at London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
Professor Eilean Hooper-Greenhill, and Jocelyn Dodd of RCMG (the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries in the Department of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester) have been evaluating a government-backed project entitled the Museum and Gallery Education Programme.
At the London conference they delivered the results of their findings to a distinguished audience which included fellow speakers, Baroness Ashton of UpHolland, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Early Years and School Standards, Bamber Gascoigne, Co-founder of HistoryWorld.net and author, broadcaster and publisher, and Mark Taylor, Director of the Museums Association and Chair of the Campaign for Learning in Museums and Galleries.
The Museum and Gallery Education Programme is a programme of 65 individual projects representing the first major commitment to the educational potential of museums and galleries by DfES (formerly DfEE). Projects were based on creative partnerships between museums and schools, and many also involved individual artists, media producers, parents, community members and museum workers. The majority of them were designed for Key Stages 1 and 2.
The £3 million project offered funding from £112,000 to £3,000 to museums and galleries taking part, enabling organisations to offer more ambitious projects than they might generally manage.
Among the evaluation findings, the Leicester researchers found that children who find difficulty with classroom learning often responded very well to the educational opportunities offered by museums, and gained confidence and focus.
Teachers also became more confident about fresh ways to work in the classroom, recognising the range of ways in which museums and galleries could be used. Being cross-curricular, the programme exposed both teachers and students to new ways of thinking and learning.
The projects offered students a range of experiences from the wider world, many of which would normally be well outside their everyday lives. Children found that immersion in the museum activities helped them to forget some of the challenges and difficulties of the outside world, engaging instead in exploration, self-expression and the excitement of discovery.
Communication became more effective and attitudes to school work frequently improved.
Looking to the future, the evaluation recommended:
Professor Hooper-Greenhill commented: "The Museums and Galleries Education Programme has highlighted the power of museums and galleries in the learning process. The evaluation finds clear evidence of enhancement of the national curriculum and increased motivation to learn."
A Good Practice Guide based on the evaluation research will be available from February 26th, 2002. A limited number of free copies with be available through RCMG and electronic copies available on WWW.TeacherNe.gov.uk
The success of the MGEP has led to a further phase of the programme to begin in 2002.
Note to editors: Further information is available from Professor Eilean Hooper-Greenhill and Jocelyn Dodd, RCMG (Research Centre for Museums and Galleries), Department of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, telephone 0116 252 3995/3963, facsimile 0116 252 3960, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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