Projects, events and news from the University of Cambridge Museums
“They are beginning to see the opportunities available to them and that they have a place in the cultural world.”
Christine Brierly, teacher at North Cambridge Academy
University of Cambridge Museums has a long term strategic relationship with North Cambridge Academy, a local secondary school. One of the many strands is the ambassador programme, where young people apply to become ambassadors. The aim is for them to learn as much about the museums as possible & then to share that information with their peers, teachers and family. They usually spend a year doing each project.
The eight museum ambassadors have recently worked together with six of the University Museums to create an A3 booklet that enables young people to gain a Discover Arts Award (a nationally recognised qualification). The ambassadors worked with museum educators to design a series of activities based on Museum collections and award criteria, as well as trying to make it fun for Year 6 & 7 pupils to complete. They enthusiastically shared their ideas and tried new things in order to design the book.
“It is exactly like we hoped it would be”
The ambassadors worked with illustrator/graphic designer Dominic Mckenzie to create the booklet. They shared their own ideas, and met with the designer to give feedback on his initial ideas, resulting in the colourful and fun booklet.
“It was fun, visiting all the museums. We all decided together what to include as it was the right thing to do. I like how modern it is”
The booklet was piloted with 70 primary school pupils as part of a transition project. The transition from primary school to secondary school can be challenging for young people, and North Cambridge Academy and it’s feeder primary schools work with the University of Cambridge Museums to try and make this transistion as smooth as possible. To enable children from different primary schools to meet and feel included, summer school days are organised where Year 6 primary school students come together and work on a project, like the booklet.
The Museum Ambassadors were each put in a primary school group to support the teachers and students. There was a real buzz throughout the day, with the primary school pupils incredibly excited to use the booklets and visit the Fitzwilliam Museum, Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Sedgwick Museum and the Polar Museum. The 70 pupils will return again on their first day as Year 7 students at North Cambridge Academy to complete the booklet, visiting the Whipple Museum and the Museum of Classical Archaeology. One of the students visiting from Shirley Primary School told his teacher “It was the best day of my life.”
“They saw the project through from beginning to end over a year. They developed resilience when making decisions about what to include. They shared ideas and had to decide what made the book and what didn’t. They don’t normally get to do that in school. I saw an increase in confidence and resilience. They’re so proud of what they achieved and surprised that they managed it.”
Christine Brierley, teacher at North Cambridge Academy on the impact of the project on the Museum Ambassadors
This wonderful booklet proves just what young people can achieve, and I was overwhelmed by the Museum Ambassadors’ hard work and commitment to the project.
The project was a huge undertaking for the young people and wouldn’t have happened without the support from learning staff across the University of Cambridge Museums. Thank you for all the time and support you gave the Museum Ambassadors enabling them to create such an incredible booklet.
Marie Kennedy, Children & young people Widening Participation Officer, University of Cambridge Museums