2.0 Background to the Project

Key points
Build on earlier experiences and existing expertise.
Make an informed choice of potential project partners.
Target proposed audience accurately.

The MGEP was launched 'in response to a clear desire within government, education and the museum sector itself to use museums more fully to improve the quality of children's learning.' (Clarke et al. 2002, 4; also The Museum of Antiquities had already undertaken a successful project with a local high school which culminated in the creation of a Website, 'Benwell, Centre of the Universe', and wished to explore further the possibilities of information technology as a means of reaching and sustaining a new audience. The original bid for MGEP funding was for a three-year project but in the event the Museum was only awarded funding for one year, to commence in May 2000. This was sufficient to put the equipment in place and employ part-time Education and Computer Officers for the duration of the Project, although inevitably the funding short fall led to the truncating of some of the Project's original aims.

There are eleven First Schools in the Blyth Valley Schools Partnership in Northumberland. The town of Blyth owes its existence to the heavy industries, including ship-building and coal-mining, which formerly dominated the north-east of England. Since the collapse of these the town has had to diversify and is seeking to re-establish itself as a location for light industry. A consequence of the industrial collapse has been increased unemployment and social marginalisation within sections of the community. This reflects itself in some of the schools in the area and because of this they have been recipients of various government funding initiatives aimed at regeneration. One of these initiatives was the Project, through which funding was provided for Internet-linked computers in every school within the Blyth Valley Partnership. Teachers in these schools received support from seconded local authority advisors who helped them and their pupils to create school Websites and materials for use on computers, examples of which can be explored via the website. The previous experience of these schools in the use of computer technology and the fact that they were not already regular visitors to the Museum made them ideal partners for our MGEP bid.

The Project targets children in Key Stage 2 (seven to eleven year olds) since this is when schools are required to teach the Roman History of Britain as part of the English National Curriculum.


Last updated: Tue Aug 20 2002

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