Advice for Historic Environment Records and the new curriculum

After the meeting at The Hive a couple of weeks ago we started thinking about what Historic Environment Records (HERs) could easily do, with little resourcing, to engage with the new curriculum.

Our director, Kim Biddulph, worked for four years in Buckinghamshire HER during a project to get it online with images digitised and attached and associated articles and resources for teachers and the community to more easily use it. You can see the results at http://ubp.buckscc.gov.uk. The teacher information is out of date, now, as teachers will be after Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age information.

ubpFor HERs that aren’t online, or don’t have associated resources for public accessibility, here are a few ideas that could be done pretty quickly and cheaply.

1. Does your region have a research framework? If so, you should have county/district resources assessments that you could share as PDFs on your website. Ideally do a precis of the resource assessment and label them with “Stone Age”, “Bronze Age” and “Iron Age” terms. These are the terms used in the curriculum, these are the terms teachers will be searching for.

2. Teachers and pupils love images. You have amazing collections, particularly of excavations and aerial photographs. Nick an explanation of aerial photography from somewhere, e.g. this one from Cornwall, and add in your own images. Create a quick image gallery on your website of relevant excavations or sites. Label them with captions that give the bare essentials that a teacher would need to use them in the classroom.

3. If you use HBSMR, and it’s online, buy the Themes module and add some of the above detail directly into the database. This allows you to link these articles directly back to the raw data on a site. Obviously, there are some costs to this option!

Any more great ideas, do post in the comments below.

Busy minds come together in The Hive

The Hive in Worcester hosted a meeting of archaeologists and heritage educators today to talk about how we can all help teachers with the new curriculum. Attendees included Worcester museum educators (Kate Philippson), community archaeologists (Rob Hedge), and Archive and Historic Environment Record (HER) staff (Paul Hudson, Sheena Payne-Lunn) as well as Saray May of Heritage for Transformation, James Dilley of Ancient Craft, Catherine Parker Heath of Enrichment Through Archaeology, Deborah Jarman of The Inspiration Exchange and Giles Carey of Warwickshire HER. We were from Portsmouth, Buxton, Aylesbury, Warwick, Leominster and Worcester.

The first half of the meeting was about sharing ideas for engaging activities for teachers and students, including setting up simulated excavations of different types, object handling and image banks. We also talked about how engaged teachers were with this change, and it seemed as if most of the feedback we were all getting was that not many have though about it yet, what with all the other changes happening in the curriculum and assessment, to name just two areas in flux. We shared the results of our survey.

Matthew Pope of UCL couldn’t make it but sent some questions that galvanised the conversation, which was further energised by the arrival of Sarah May. The main idea is to create a possible framework of content and ways of teaching prehistory that can be shared with teachers. I’m sure this was said after we had to leave, but this should be developed in partnership with teachers learning how to do this in the classroom, many for the first time.

Thanks to Sarah May for being the driving force behind this meeting, The Hive for hosting and Rob Hedge for leading the meeting. Here’s to working together!