Heritage Schools is an educational initiative that enhances history teaching through local heritage. The program trains teachers on how to incorporate local history through cultural heritage with a multitude of activities in the existing curricula.
The project has seen great success and yields impressive results on cultural awareness among teachers and children alike, capacity building of educators and meaningful connection to history.
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Implemented in 8 regions in the United Kingdom, the program reached almost half a million children, while it continues to grow. The participants establish an active connection to the past and their local history. As it puts their local community on the map of national history, allows them to understand the subject matter comprehensively and be prideful of their provenance.
© Historic England employee, Europa Nostra
History is a fascinating subject, its’ success in imparting knowledge, however full the curriculum, lays solely on the educator. Proper learning and understanding of history is the pillar by which any society grows, as it builds individual and communal identity, respect and the wisdom to do better in the future. This program brings a variety of assets to the teachers’ toolkit that guarantees children properly learn, gain and maintain interest in history. To implement it, teachers undergo training on how to include and adapt their course using local heritage resources. Afterwards, they feel confident about their capabilities, can be creative with their teaching activities, develop new skills and learn about their local history together with their students.
There are over 40 activities that put history in the broader context of everyday life as well as build different skills, covering history, art, architecture, family history, photography, archaeology and more. Activities are both in the classroom and outside prompting children to explore and connect with their city.
One example: What did people do at the seaside in the past?
Where children examine a photograph, compare and contrast their experiences and deeply connect with life in the past; this simple, thought-provoking and creative tool encompasses a broad context of history through multiple facets.
Members of the community develop an increasing interest in their heritage, connection and engagement in local activities. Parents are more involved in their children’s education, as well as the community as whole show interest in the schools. Furthermore, heritage organisations, like local museums, become more relevant to the community and try to cater to the needs of schools.
Parents and children studying historic maps and photographs in the Enchanted Woodland exhibition at St Joseph’s Primary School, Middlesbrough. © Historic England
A heritage educational tool can be essential to local communities from both protecting cultural heritage perspective and strengthening their ties. The benefits of this particular program already show a significant impact on all aspects of life; education, cultural events, lifelong learning and local identity. The Heritage Schools have a comprehensive presentation of their work, activities and outcomes and can be a benchmark for communities to implement internationally, as it is inexpensive, improves learning and the only requirement is wanting to learn history together with your community.
Local Approach recommends this as a first step towards protecting any heritage asset. We look forward to reading about more similar programs worldwide.
Let’s learn to preserve our culture today!
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