Saturday, 23 May 2015

Working with Skills for the Future Museum Education & Outreach Trainees - Clare Coleman, Early Years to Key Stage 2 Education Officer, Ashmolean

It’s hard to believe that four years have passed since I met our first cohort of HLF Skills for the Future trainees. Having trainees around does create extra work but my overriding sense is that I have learned a great deal from them.  Their enthusiasm for learning and willingness to share ideas as well as question how we can best engage our visitors with our collections has given me the chance to reflect almost daily on best practice in museum education.

I feel really fortunate that I had the opportunity to work particularly closely with four of the trainees with primary schools over the course of the project. There have been many highlights. Many hours spent with Lea Kloppinger from cohort one thrashing ideas around and designing sessions and resources for a complex Philosophy for Schools project. Calm Carol Walthew stepping up as a fantastic assistant during our first ever BookFeast event – hundreds of children…all went smoothly. She had great design skills too! Mentoring Carly Smith-Huggins during her fabulous final project ‘Curious Curators’…So good that I have had to pinch that idea! I will always be grateful to Carly for the Curious Curators idea, and I am absolutely delighted that I now get to call her my colleague, as she works in the education departments at the Pitt Rivers Museums and Oxford University Museum of Natural History.  

Then, after a long absence from work, it has been a delight to get to know Corie Edwards. She has been generous with her time allowing me to observe plenty of her taught sessions and pick her brains about what she thinks has worked best in sessions I designed last September but have not seen until recently. Corie is a natural educator and has fabulous questioning skills. She is quick to build a rapport with primary aged children. They love her warm style and the way she values each child’s input. I have seen her grow in confidence in her delivery of a wide range of sessions ranging from British Prehistory, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Anglo-Saxons and creative writing activities during this year’s Bookfeast literature festival.

Clare (l) and Corie (r)

Soon we will be saying goodbye to this final cohort of trainees. As with the previous trainees, I will be truly sorry to see them go and wish them all the best in their future careers. And, sadly, we will also be saying farewell to Neil Stevenson, Mentor and Project Manager, without whom Skills for the Future would never have happened. An all-round good and a valued colleague!

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