Ave Arbeia: How the Roman Fort is doing wonders for South Shields

Hadrian Primary school children take part in a project at Arbeia Roman Fort
Hadrian Primary school children take part in a project at Arbeia Roman Fort
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A project between a historical site and a South Tyneside school has been praised by a top university.

The findings from the My Primary School is at the Museum project involving Arbeia Roman Fort and Hadrian Primary School have now been published by King’s College London.

Anglo-Saxon King of Northumberland King Oswin at Arbeia Roman Fort. King Oswin

Anglo-Saxon King of Northumberland King Oswin at Arbeia Roman Fort. King Oswin

It reveals that through the project youngsters gained confidence and enhanced social skills, and teachers, museums and parents also benefited.

The project saw a Year 5 class take their day-to-day programme of lessons, including lunches and breaks, into the museum at Arbeia Roman Fort for one term at the beginning of this year.

Against a backdrop of threatened museum services and shortages of nursery and primary school places, the project was designed to explore the idea of co-location.

The findings are also pertinent to the debate about how schools can nurture creative, flexible and confident thinkers at the same time as ensuring children are ready for tests and exams.

While it is recognised by most that cultural learning experiences benefit children, the current model remains one of infrequent day trips that, for many schools, have been reduced in recent years due to financial challenges.

Virginia Wilkinson, learning officer for Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, said: “My Primary School is at the Museum has been a fantastic opportunity for Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum to reconnect with its most local school and for the children and teaching staff to regain a sense of ownership and identity with what is after all their own heritage.

“We have already forged new ways of collaborating with schools to use the museums and their collections more comprehensively to teach much more broadly across many areas of the curriculum in addition to the Roman topic.”

The pilot test was also carried out in Liverpool and Swansea to see if the national curriculum could be delivered in a museum setting and the findings demonstrate that not only is this possible, but the resources of a museum have the ability to enhance and enrich it.

The key findings included children becoming more confident and effective communicators, developing new social skills, better relationships between schools and parents, children enjoying memorable learning experiences and students having a growing enthusiasm for other cultural organisations.