Thursday, 12 February 2015

Formal Training Days: Skills for the Future Museum Education & Outreach - Neil Stevenson, Project Co-ordinator

Since 2011 the Education departments across Oxford University Museums and Collections have welcomed 16 museum education and outreach trainees as part of the Skills for the Future programme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Each trainee completes 3 placements across the University museums, which includes 3 from the following: Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, Museum of History of Science, Joint Museums Office, and Botanic Garden and Harcourt Arboretum.

Trainees follow a training plan, and via on the job training develop the skills, knowledge, and experience needed to move into a successful career in museum education and outreach. In addition to this trainees attend formal training days, peer learning sessions, regular 1:1s with the project coordinator and plan, deliver and evaluate an independent project.

Formal Training Days

Formal training is provided through a series of training days organised by the project co-ordinator with the support of Heads of Education. The training programme is developed to provide the trainees with theory and examples of good practice relating to a particular theme or audience linked to museum education and outreach. The content of the training is aimed at a level appropriate for the trainees and for those in the early stages of their career. The days also provide an opportunity for the education staff to showcase their work, as examples of best practice, to a wider audience.

Neil delivering a session on working with Secondary Pupil Referral Units

In addition to the Skills for the Future trainees, we open the training days up to a wider audience. On average we have between 25 to 30 people attend each training day. These include education professionals and volunteers from museums across the South East, including The Oxfordshire Museum, River & Rowing Museum, Maidenhead Heritage Centre, Jane Austen House, Museum of Oxford, Bletchley Park, REME, Vale & Downland Museum, Roald Dahl Museum, and The Story Museum.

Training Days cover the following themes:

How People Learn
Learning from Objects
Audiences: Families
Audiences: Early Years to Key Stage 2
Audiences: Key Stage 3 to Post 16
Audiences: Adults
Audiences: Communities
Audiences: Volunteers
Communicating Science

The training days consist of:

A series of 45 minute presentations by speakers from within the Education Departments across Oxford University Museums and Collections, showcasing their work, providing case studies, and crucial tips for success. Sometimes we invite speakers from other museums within Oxfordshire.
At least 2 workshop style activities 
Opportunities for group discussion and questions
Opportunities for networking

Gallery activity during EY-KS2 training day

The following shows the programme for a recent training day focusing on Secondary to Post-16 audiences 

HLF Skills for the FutureTraining Day: Working with Secondary to Post-16 Audiences in Museums and Collections

Friday 9th January 2015


Venue: Annexe, University Museum of Natural History/Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford



Tea and coffee

10.20 -10.40

Welcome and Introduction

Janet Stott
Head of Education, Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Secondary at the Pitt Rivers Museum
Andrew McLellan
Head of Education, Pitt Rivers Museum
Digital Sketchbooks
Helen Ward & Adrian Brooks
Deputy Head of Education Ashmolean and Art Education Officer Joint Museums

Post-16 Learning in Museums
Chris Parkin
Lead Education Officer, Museum of the History of Science
Classroom Management – A chance to consider the challenges posed by secondary school audiences in museums

Sarah Lloyd
Secondary Education Officer, Oxford University Museum of Natural History



Working with Secondary Pupil Referral Units

 Neil Stevenson
HLF Skills for the Future Project Co-ordinator
Neil Stevenson

Very often topics covered during the training days inspire the trainees so much that they ask if they can discuss these in further detail during one of their peer learning sessions. The training days may inspire them to read around the subject or to think about their own experiences linked to what was discussed. They then bring these thoughts and experiences and discuss as a group. 

The training days have proved to be a successful part of the traineeship. They provide the trainees with a basic understanding and framework for working with specific audiences, inspire them to think about doing things in creative and inventive ways, provide an opportunity for education staff across Oxford University Museums and Collections to share their knowledge and showcase their excellent work, and to invite and welcome a wider audience to Oxford find out more about Skills for the Future and the work of the education teams.

Feedback from current trainees:

‘They have given me an excellent insight into the work of education officers, from tips of technique, problems that arise and how to overcome them and generally the multifaceted role of a facilitator. They also helped me meet a wide range of people from the sector and to network and make contacts. I remember being inspired on my very first training day to do with object handling, and it was this experience that encouraged me to pursue a career as an educator.
I find them incredibly relevant to my own learning and it helps me to make connections with my own experiences in order for me to progress professionally.’
Hannah Eastwood, HLF Skills for the Future trainee

‘The training days are a fantastic opportunity to share ideas, such as how to engage a variety of audiences with sometimes challenging collections, to create unique and inspiring learning experiences’.
Jenny Hulmes, HLF Skills for the Future trainee

Training days are an essential part of our HLF skills for the future traineeship. We are here to learn as much as we can from actively participating in our placements, but it is the training days that shift our brains to be looking at the bigger picture. Working in a museum or a collection is more than just the delivery. We have to think about our programmes in education on a much bigger scale as they are far reaching. It is at the training days that we get to hear about all of the wider aspects of planning programmes at different museums and collections.
Corie Edwards, HLF Skills for the Future trainee

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