UCL East


UCL Culture's museum-schools programme builds relationships with schools in east London

2 July 2019

In UCL Culture we’re building relationships with schools in advance of UCL East opening so that we have an established, positive, community with which to work long-term.

Pupil at UCL Culture museum-schools workshop

Words by Celine West, Head of Schools Engagement, UCL Culture 

Headteachers in the area reported to LLDC that their priorities are teacher retention, and activities that could address pupils’ fall in attainment at key moments such as the transition from primary to secondary school. We want to collaborate with departments, as well as the other East Bank partners, to create projects that can address these, alongside introducing UCL to young people and helping raise attainment in older pupils.

We set up a museum-schools programme in 2017, working with academics and students to use UCL’s collections to enhance learning in secondary schools in the East Bank boroughs. Funded by UCL Access & Widening Participation, we run hands-on workshops in schools and at the museums, as well as CPD events for teachers.

We have one part-time member of staff who created the programme and established new school relationships. For the first three years of the programme, we have this set of projects:

Bio-robotics with the Grant Museum of Zoology and Computer Science

Printmaking with UCL Art Museum and the Slade

Creative writing with the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology and the English department.

UCL students and academics are involved in running all the workshops with young people and teachers.

More info about these is on our website, and detailed in a report on the first year of the programme here. We recently put on an exhibition in the Cloisters of students’ work from the printmaking project, which the young people were immensely proud of. The exhibition helped parents, and teachers, see the benefits of working with UCL and strengthened their links to the university.

We have also created special projects such as Institute of Education student volunteers working with a primary school on creating aspirations, exploring ways of using the museums that resulted in them turning their school into a temporary museum.

Alongside this, we have a longstanding outreach programme in Newham. We have been running object-based classes in primary schools since 2012 and have visited a third of all the schools, often returning every year, reaching 7000 children in that time. These are predominately Archaeology-based workshops that give the children the rare opportunity to handle objects from UCL’s Ancient Greek and Ancient Egyptian collections, which they are invariably very enthusiastic about.

In 2018 LLDC piloted a summer school for 13-16 year olds with sessions run by many of the East Bank institutions, which we took part in with another Petrie Museum workshop. You can see a short film about the summer school here. This year the expanded two-week programme includes new sessions we have developed in partnership with Anthropology and the V&A, exploring why we collect and the future of collecting.

Sara Rayment, a student on the MA Museums and Galleries, has written about a workshop UCL carried out with students in Waltham Forest, where they turned their school's art room into a museum of objects. You can read the article here

Pupil at bio-inspire robotics workshop

UCL Culture Schools Engagement Team

Celine West, Head of Schools Engagement celine.west@ucl.ac.uk

Emma Bryant, Schools Engagement Manager: Museums (for UCL East) e.bryant@ucl.ac.uk

Sarah Hutton, Schools Engagement Manager: Museums s.r.hutton@ucl.ac.uk