John Lyon’s Charity awarded a grant of £60,000 over three years to the Victoria and Albert Museum in June 2011. The overall aim of the grant was to increase the number of secondary school students from the Charity’s Beneficial Area that were taking part in the Art, Craft and Design strand of the V&A’s Schools Programme. Research had shown that a relatively low number of schools in RBKC visited the national museums and cultural organisations on their doorstep.
The first step was the appointment of a dedicated Project Coordinator, who spent six months undertaking research into how schools were engaging with the V&A and into the existing provision of Art, Design and Technology in the target boroughs. Initial visits to school were organized in which teachers cited cost, cover support, transport and timetabling as key barriers in undertaking a museum visit.
As a means of overcoming a number of these barriers, it was decided that a programme of free outreach sessions would be delivered in schools, teachers’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events would be offered free of charge and workshops on the core Schools Programme at the V&A would be offered at a discounted rate.
The project has been hugely successful in developing relationships with schools. The appointment of a Project Coordinator has meant that the schools received a high level of personal contact and time could be spent discussing their individual needs.
Prior to the initiative (2009/2011) only 10% of schools in the seven target boroughs had engaged in the V&A’s Secondary School Programme. 85 secondary schools within seven of the Charity’s boroughs were targeted through these outreach sessions, CPD events and workshops and they have successfully engaged with 80% of them. 2,345 students have taken part in workshops and outreach sessions and 422 teachers have attended CPD events.
Throughout the initiative the V&A has kept a blog on the Charity’s website. This has provided an opportunity for the V&A to reflect on the successes and challenges of the project. It has also enabled arts education practitioners and teachers to interact with the initiative by sharing their own experiences and posting comments and advice. You can find the V&A blog archive here.