Leeds' museums scoop euro award for work with schools
In September 2022, Izzy Bartley from the Learning and Access Team at Leeds Museums and Galleries (LMG), boarded the Eurostar bound for Luxembourg and the annual European Children in Museums Award.
LMG had been nominated for the Leeds Curriculum, a place-based curriculum enabling teachers in Leeds to teach across the national curriculum, but through a Leeds lens. The award judges had already spent a whole day at various LMG sites, learning about the curriculum, the drive behind its design, how it was developed, and the impact it’s having on children in the city.
The Leeds Curriculum was a city-side vision, spearheaded by Kate Fellows, Head of Access and Learning at Leeds Museums and Galleries. Kate explains; "Research has shown that children who access arts and culture at a young age are twice as likely to vote, three times more likely to go to university and more likely to report better mental and physical health as they become adults. So we know it’s vitally important. To create the Leeds Curriculum, we worked in collaboration with 40 cultural organisations and 30 schools across the city to identity, research and develop 50 stories that every child in Leeds should know about their city before they leave primary school. It was a long but rewarding process and involved lots and lots of tea and cake!”
Launched in 2018, the Leeds Curriculum is the only cross-artform, city-wide, free to access place-based curriculum in England. It’s a curriculum designed for the children of Leeds, designed to support them in feeling at home in the City. To borrow a First Nation’s proverb, we want to ‘give them roots to give them wings’.
Preliminary results from the research we’re carrying out on the impact of the Leeds Curriculum suggests it’s working. One third to one half of primary schools in the city are using some aspect of the Leeds Curriculum (that’s about 10,000 pupils). We’ve seen a 33% increase in children describing Leeds as ‘my home’ and an 18% increase in children saying that Leeds is ‘my city’. In 2020, the Leeds Curriculum won the Museum & Heritage Award (the ‘Oscars of the heritage sector’ for ‘Best Educational Initiative of the Year’.
So, what happened in Luxembourg? All the nominated museums from around Europe gave lively short presentations and then HRH Princess Sibilla of Luxembourg announced the winners.
The Leeds Curriculum had won! LMG were joint winners with Creaviva Children’s Museum, Bern. There was huge interest in the Leeds Curriculum from other organisations present, and in March staff from Bern will visit us in Leeds to see the work of LMG for themselves, learn more about the Leeds Curriculum and hand over the coveted Miffy trophy!
The (now) multi award-winning Leeds Curriculum can be found on MyLearning.org, a hub website hosting learning resources created by arts, cultural and heritage organisations from across England. Designed by teachers, for teachers, everything on MyLearning is free to access and use for educational purposes. It is managed by LMG, and it currently hosts nearly 300 learning stories and over 2000 images, along with videos, digital interactives, downloadable activity sheets and primary historical documents. In the last 12 months we recorded 250,000 page views.