Making an Impact – using archives in the classroom

Archivists tend to know their collections, if not inside-out, definitely extremely well; and there will always be that moment when he or she delves into the depths of the collection and pulls out a little gem of an item. But making the link from the wealth of resources available, to creating a productive resource for teachers can be a challenge. We don’t have the knowledge of the National Curriculum that is needed, and, despite massive progress in recent years, the Education Officer (which has become so central to museum services) is still very much a dream for most archives. That is why initiatives instigated by organisations such as the (shortly to be defunct) Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) have been so worthwhile. In recent years the MLA have created teaching packs, including using the Institute’s archives to support teaching Citizenship at Key Stages 3 and 4. The packs contain learning activities around various subjects including healthy eating, protesting and the use of the media.

Such packs were the predecessors to more recent programmes such as Campaign! Make an Impact. Run by the British Library and MLA, with funding by the DCMS/DfE Strategic Commissioning Programme, it seeks to use history to inspire young people into active citizenship. The project uses the records of past campaigners, such as the Suffragettes and supporters of the abolition of the slave trade, to show how ordinary people can make important changes in the world in which they live. Pupils are then able to put together their own campaign based on the skills they have learnt. Past campaigns by classes have focused on health, the environment and local issues, and in one area a group of primary school children even managed to convince its local council of the need for speed bumps outside their school – which now are in place. It may not be world peace but it is fantastic way to show pupils how their voice matters, and when used appropriately can bring about positive change.

With the government’s current review of the National Curriculum underway, initiatives such as Campaign! Make an Impact seem ever more important. The Institute’s archives are currently discussing how we can use our collections as part of the programme. In the meantime check out the Campaign’s resources for teachers or email us if you would like one of our citizenship packs. Here are a couple of images from our collections to get you started…

Press notice issued by the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment (STOPP)

Press notice issued by the Society of Teachers Opposed to Physical Punishment (STOPP) (STO/11/5)

Members of the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) campaigning in Lowestoft, 1914 (UWT/G/2/41)

Members of the National Union of Women Teachers (NUWT) campaigning in Lowestoft, 1914 (UWT/G/2/41)

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