Beyond the classroom walls: museums and primary history


By Richard Woff, published 31st December 1996

Apart from the difficulty of getting hold of a hard copy of the new National Curriculum framework, museum educators have little to worry about in the results of the curriculum review. The framework reveals few changes that will affect what museums have been doing for the last eight or so years. Many museums, galleries and sites have developed resources tailored to the curriculum in a range of different ways. The clearest is where the content of a collection or the nature of a site fits neatly with specified content in a programme study. Thus museums in Cirencester and York have produced materials which fit well with the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings unit, while Hampton Court Palace and the National Portrait Gallery have exploited the presence of the Tudors. Where content is less precise, museums have nevertheless been able to utilise their collections creatively. Good links between schools and museums have been built up around the local study requirement. At Key Stage1, handling collections, replica clothes and period environments have been used to help young children to get a sense of the real nature of old objects, to compare them with modern equivalents and to develop a very immediate understanding of differences between life then and life now.

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