Member Focus: Leeds Museums and Galleries

Member Focus Leeds Museums and Galleries Sep 21
Leeds Museums & Galleries’ Primary School Membership Scheme met schools’ needs during the pandemic, forging surprising opportunities for the museum and school partnerships. It’s evaluation report ‘A New Way of Working’, shines a light on the unexpected impacts of the Membership Scheme and the opportunities that lie ahead.

By Emily Nelson, Learning & Access Officer, LMG

Leeds Museums & Galleries’ Primary School Membership Scheme met schools’ needs during the pandemic, forging surprising opportunities for the museum and school partnerships. It’s evaluation report ‘A New Way of Working’, shines a light on the unexpected impacts of the Membership Scheme and the opportunities that lie ahead.

In September 2021 Leeds Museums and Galleries Learning and Access team launched a new report – ‘LMG Primary School Membership Scheme: A New Way of Working’. The report is the result of a 2 year external evaluation project aimed at really getting to the bottom of the Primary School Membership Scheme, its impact, and the way it is valued by our member schools. However, in the circumstances of the pandemic, which struck only a few months into the initial evaluation, it became a real opportunity to track the way that LMG has pivoted how it works with schools to respond to their needs, and the impact that this has on the relationships between member schools and Leeds Museums.

The membership scheme has three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. All members receive loans boxes of real artefacts from the museum collection, object handling training for teachers to ensure the teachers are confident in handling the objects safely, and curriculum support. They also receive credits towards workshops, assemblies and access to special projects through the year. The membership scheme provides a hands-on way of teaching and learning, making it fun and engaging for both teachers and children, and enhancing cultural capital. As part of Gold membership, schools also have access to 6 hours of bespoke CPD.

The New Way of Working report specifically focuses on LMG’s Gold Members. Over the course of the pandemic, the way that LMG’s Membership team worked with our Gold members really grew and changed in response to their needs, and as a result our ability to understand and support all of our members has also developed into a new way of working. What started as one school asking us to deliver specific training and support them to feed local history into their Medium Term Plans grew into co-writing new curriculums with our schools that were locally and micro-locally rooted, diverse, and authentic to the school. This helped us to have conversations with our schools about using their CPD hours strategically, with a mix of whole school training and in-depth topic work with individual year groups.

With the launch of virtual workshops, and shorter object-based virtual drop-ins (which will continue post-pandemic) our members were also able to access the museum collections in a way that they never had before. This really enabled us to bring to life our vision for the membership as a holistic, whole school scheme which helps schools to embed cultural capital through local history, objects and experiential learning, and virtual access to the collections. We’ve been able to really understand what our schools value and need from us and have grown our offer to provide this.

The New Way of Working report follows the growth of our offer and the impact it has had. It sets out a framework for the future that we hope any museum or cultural organisation might find useful. To top it all off, shortly before we launched it, we were honoured to receive the Museums and Heritage Show Learning Outreach Award 2021. It just goes to show that positive change really can come out of adversity in some cases.

Find out more here.

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End of Year Message

And suddenly it’s December! As we wind down towards the end of the year, it feels the right time to reflect on what has been achieved this year as a partnership! We have continued to strengthen work in our priority areas: Youth Voice, Skills and Progression, Advocacy and Comms, and Health and Wellbeing.

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