New Curriculum prompts Learning Programme changes
With children all over the country starting the new history curriculum, as schools return from the summer holiday break this week, innovators at YAT’s JORVIK Group of attractions are rising to the challenge to launch a host of new learning programmes.
The new history curriculum takes the emphasis off ‘traditional’ favourites – such as Victorians and World War II – in favour of covering both history and pre-history, with lots of focus on the period before the Norman conquest of 1066. “This brings the Viking era – particularly the two hundred year period from 866 to 1066 – to the fore, putting the period covered by the JORVIK Viking Centre at the heart of the curriculum,” comments education officer, Frances Bennett, “but given that JORVIK was built on the back of decades of archaeological expertise from the York Archaeological Trust, our expertise stretches back much further to cover over 2000 years of history and beyond, into prehistory with the Bronze Age and Stone Age.”
Indeed, alongside the existing visitor attractions which are a favourite for school visits – JORVIK Viking Centre, the hands-on archaeological DIG, medieval Barley Hall and the two new medieval attractions, the Richard III and Henry VII Experiences – the education team will embrace a new opportunity in the Yorkshire Wolds, Octon Old Farmhouse near Driffield, to offer schools a tour around the site of a prehistoric settlement. The medieval farmhouse itself was restored in a project supported by York Archaeological Trust and Natural England in 2013, and will be used as a base from which schools can explore the local landscape, including the location of both a Neolithic henge and a Bronze Age hillfort.
“This is a superb resource for schools in North Yorkshire and the East Riding, and its additional opening for summer schools in 2015 is perfect timing for teachers who are looking for interesting ways of bringing the new curriculum to life,” adds Fran. “Visitors will have access to a wide range of supporting resources to prepare for the visit, and to extend the learning beyond the visit itself.”
The work of the JORVIK Group education team is not limited to supporting visits to its attractions. “We know that school budgets are stretched, and increased travel costs are reducing the distance groups are able to travel for a day out, so we frequently send Vikings or Tudor characters to visit schools around the country, drawing on the expertise and resources of York Archaeological Trust to bring history to life within the classroom,” explains Dr Chris Tuckley, head of interpretation for the JORVIK Group. “We’ve created virtual outreach projects that use technology to enable our archaeologists and historic interpreters to talk directly to schools using webcams and interactive whiteboards, which means that we can talk to schools anywhere in the world in an accessible and cost-effective way. For children, actually being able to question a Viking about their day-to-day life is a wonderful way of adding colour to the new curriculum.”
Schools can also borrow resources to help with their historical studies, covering a wide range of topics, from life in Roman Britain to exploring archaeology. “The new history curriculum should be lively and engaging, but many teachers may be exploring eras that they have never taught before. If we can make it easier for them, and enthuse the next generation of historians, we’ll accomplish one of our greatest education goals,” adds Dr Tuckley. “We have also been working closely with teachers, and have a programme of professional development that sits alongside our child-focused programmes to ensure that the teachers are confident delivering every aspect of the history curriculum.”
For more information on educational visits and resources, please visit www.thejorvikgroup.com and click on the ‘education’ tab. The education team also has its own blog, www.jorvikgrouplearning.wordpress.com