Tag archives: galleries

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Family learning in the cultural and heritage sector

I have been a family literacy tutor for many years, and my work in schools and libraries has made me a passionate believer in the value of family learning. I have experienced first hand the transformations that it can achieve for both children and adults. It is incredibly exciting and moving to watch skills and confidence grow. This family were dedicated attenders of a series of family literacy workshops I gave for Barnet Library Service. Their concentration says so much.

I love giving training on family literacy and on family learning more generally, and I am delighted there is so much interest in putting on family learning programmes and activities in the cultural and heritage sector. In addition to the important benefits to families that these initiatives bring, they are also excellent in terms of breaking down barriers and creating new audiences. My next openly available family learning course is on 17 November, run by Creating Capacity. We will have the opportunity to explore ways to make family learning a reality in museums, galleries, libraries, archives and other heritage organisations, and I will bring along lots of inspiring case studies. In the meantime, there is a very useful recent publication on the topic from niace, for anyone who has not already seen it.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Training courses on working with young offenders

A quick reminder that John Vincent and I are giving another course on engaging effectively with young offenders in Crawley on 29 September. The course is for people working in the cultural and heritage sector, including libraries, museums, galleries and archives. For anyone unable to make that date or venue, we are repeating the course in Leeds on 23 November.

There is more about our training on this topic on my website.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Broke, not broken: tackling youth poverty and the aspiration gap

This new report from the Prince’s Trust investigates the impact of youth poverty on young people’s aspirations and self-belief. It exposes a huge gap in aspiration between the UK’s richest and poorest young people. Young people growing up in poverty are four times more likely to believe that they will not be able to achieve their life and career goals than those from wealthy backgrounds. It is clear from the report that material poverty in young adulthood is not only strongly linked to poverty of expectations and life-chances but also to poor self-confidence and poor mental and physical health.

These are some other findings in relation to young people from the UK’s poorest families that are particularly significant for people working in schools, colleges and libraries and other parts of the cultural and heritage sector:

  • more than a quarter had few or no books in their home
  • one in three were rarely or never read to by their parents
  • more than a third did not have anywhere quiet at home to do their schoolwork and two-fifths did not have a desk
  • more than a quarter had no access to a computer and almost one in three did not have access to the internet
  • many have struggled with their education

The report contains a number of inspirational case studies: young people who with the help of the Prince’s Trust have succeeded in breaking the cycle of poverty. It concludes with a call to government and businesses to work more closely with charities to improve social mobility and raise aspirations more widely.

The report makes challenging reading. It will certainly inform my training, especially my courses on working with teenagers.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Supporting children with special educational needs in the cultural and heritage sector

It’s great to have a chance somewhat late in the day to reflect on a training course on engaging effectively with children with learning difficulties that I gave last week for Creating Capacity. The delegates were fantastic, and between them had very extensive experience of working with children and young people in museums, both local and national, archives, libraries and the cultural and heritage sector more widely. (Lovely to have Historic Royal Palaces represented.) We were able to explore the needs of children with learning disabilities in depth, and the barriers to access and learning that need to be overcome. The combination of the case studies that I had brought and the experiences of all the course members enabled us to identify the factors for successful activities and programmes. These came out as some of the most important:

•    partnership working
•    sensitive and non-patronising face-to-face communication
•    positive reinforcement and praise
•    simple language with no jargon
•    linking concepts to things children know and understand
•    active engagement
•    practical hands-on activities
•    multi-sensory approaches
•    activities that produce something tangible
•    flexibility
•    effective planning, monitoring and evaluation

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Working with teenagers in museums and galleries

I gave a course yesterday on engaging with young people for Creating Capacity. Although designed for anyone in the cultural heritage sector, in fact all the delegates were from museums and galleries, with responsibility either for learning or for audience development, so we were able to focus exclusively on those settings.

The discussions about teenagers’ needs and expectations and ways to meet them were fascinating. It was great to hear about fabulous initiatives from each of the delegates, and to have the opportunity to explore the success factors and the challenges, and the relative merits of one-off events and on-going projects. I found the debate about time-scales for the latter particularly interesting.

Not surprisingly, every successful event or programme we talked about – those the delegates had initiated, and the case studies I brought with me – featured active engagement by the young people involved, and a flexible approach that responded to individuals’ interests and skills. All also produced something tangible, either that the teenagers took away, or that could be shared with a wider audience. We heard about concerts of music written and performed by young people, about exhibitions curated by young people, about an online photography book, about animations shown in museums and online, about poetry slams and a whole lot more.

There were so many valuable discussions. The conversation about universal offers versus targeted promotions was an especially important one. Marketing and promotion were hotly debated. Social networking was seen as crucial, needless to say, but face-to-face communication scored very highly too. Everybody agreed the importance of partnership working. And under-scoring everything was the necessity for detailed planning and effective evaluation.

For anyone interested, there is more about my courses on working with teenagers in museums and galleries here.