Schools move lessons to local museums for learning experiment

Two primary schools and a nursery will have groups of pupils based full-time at their local museum for up to a term

Children have been learning alongside ancient artefacts and innovative artwork as part of research to investigate the benefits of going to school in a museum.

Three schools have moved classes into their local museums to test whether it will boost pupils’ learning and also attract a new audience of visitors to museums, as part of a project run by King’s College London.

Two primary schools and a nursery, from Tyne & Wear, Swansea and Liverpool, will have groups of pupils based full-time at their local museum for up to a term. The project – “My Primary School is at the Museum” – bases whole classes in museums for their day-to-day programme of lessons, including lunches and breaks, to give children a completely different experience from the more usual occasional museum visit. 

Katherine Bond, director of the Cultural Institute at King’s, said the project would also investigate whether museums should become classrooms for more children, given that many areas were short of school places and some museums faced closure because of funding cuts.

Scott Brown, head of Hadrian Primary School in South Shields, which has moved its class of 29 nine- and 10-year-olds to Arbeia Roman Fort in South Tyneside, said: “I think the project has had a massive impact on children. It has really opened their eyes to what history can provide, not only in education but also in terms of stimulus and entertainment.”

Fifty children aged four and five from St Thomas Community Primary School in Swansea will be based at the city’s National Waterfront Museum. Their teacher, Laura Luxton, said she had already noticed benefits to the children. She said: “They are getting so much out of it. Their social and speaking skills have improved in such a short time.”

Nursery pupils from Kensington Children’s Centre in Liverpool were based at Tate Liverpool and enjoyed touring the gallery for inspiration for their own artwork. Lindsey Fryer, head of learning at Tate Liverpool, said: “Once people are through the door they can see it is for them.”