Over the past year, our Education Team reached thousands of students across the country by quickly adapting to lockdown with their expanded online content. As students start to return to the classroom, we’re reflecting on the team’s achievements.
Faced with the interruption of onsite classroom learning, the Education Team developed live online taught sessions, pre-recorded assemblies and a family events programme, reaching more students than ever before.
In the autumn term of 2020, they taught 4,555 students, a 480 percent increase from the same period in 2019. These workshops enabled them to reach schools across the country, not only those who could travel to Kew. As a result, over 51 percent of students taught in the autumn term were from schools outside London.
In addition, classes were specifically designed for special educational needs and disability (SEND) schools and delivered virtually to students both in school and at home, allowing a greater number of pupils to experience historic documents in an environment where they are most comfortable.
Rachel Hillman, Education Operations Manager, said: “After working hard to turn our onsite taught sessions into online workshops delivered via Zoom, we have been overwhelmed by the positive response we have received. By adapting to the limitations set by the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to produce a bigger and better online programme with new content, while reaching more students than ever before.”
From Tudor kings to rebellion in the Caribbean, the sessions span time periods and provide an introduction to the breadth of documents in our collection. For Black History Month, the team developed a brand new online workshop and assembly on The Mangrove Nine, which encouraged students to examine different perspectives on this ground-breaking case. For LGBTQ+ History Month, an assembly called Hidden Love explored the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in the 1930s.
Jess Angell, Head of History at Cambourne Village College, said: “We are always trying to find new ways to engage our students in history and your sessions certainly did this! In a year when we cannot offer our usual extra-curricular opportunities your sessions have been even more powerful. The sessions really were a highlight for both staff and students.”
Alongside bookable lessons, the team also uploaded a range of online sessions for Key Stages 1 to 5. To help with home-schooling, they launched Time Travel TV, a pre-recorded weekly broadcast examining documents in the archives aimed at children in Key Stage 2. They also introduced History Hook, which provides students with mini video clips to encourage greater engagement with Key Stage 3 resources. Combined, these free online videos reached over 20,400 views from April to December.
As students begin their return to school, a host of educational resources can be found on our website. The team will continue to deliver workshops virtually, both to classrooms and students at home. For more information, please click here.
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We are delighted to announce Emmajane Avery as our new Director of Public Engagement.
As Director of Public Engagement, Emmajane will be responsible for leading our Public Engagement Strategy and developing on site, online, and off site learning and engagement programmes for the public and wider educational audiences. She will also be responsible for marketing and communications, customer relations and maintaining service excellence at The National Archives. She will take a key role in the ongoing redevelopment of the public spaces at Kew, online public engagement growth as well as moves towards greater offsite activities in the community.
Emmajane has 20 years’ experience in the museum and cultural heritage sector and holds an MA in Museology from the University of East Anglia (Sainsbury Centre). She was formerly Director of Learning and Visitor Experience at the Victoria and Albert Museum. As a member of the V&A senior management team she was involved in delivering a range of major capital projects, and part of the team which received the Art Fund Museum of the Year award in 2016.
She has also held posts at the Wallace Collection, Tate Modern and the Ashmolean. She has extensive experience of developing learning programmes for all audiences, digital learning and visitor experience. Since 2017, she has been the Chair of Kids in Museums, an Arts Council funded charity which seeks to make museums, galleries, historic sites and archives as accessible as possible to families and young people.
Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Emmajane to The National Archives’ team and am looking forward to all that she can add to our growing public programmes. She brings fantastic depth and breadth of experience from the museum and cultural sector, which will enhance our ability to open the collection to new audiences.
‘In 2019, we made a commitment in our strategy Archives for Everyone, to make our collections as welcoming and accessible as possible to all communities, and it was her demonstrable commitment to this goal that makes Emmajane the perfect match for this role.’
Emmajane takes up the post following the retirement of the previous post-holder, Caroline Ottaway-Searle, who oversaw the creation of the Public Engagement directorate and developed a strong public engagement programme and inclusion ethos at The National Archives.
Emmajane Avery said of her appointment: ‘I’m excited to join The National Archives in this vital role at such a pivotal moment for the organisation and the sector. I have great admiration for The National Archives as a national institution and for its strong commitment to public engagement.
‘I am looking forward to working with colleagues and partners to build on the remarkable achievements of recent years by adding a new chapter to its history.’
Further information on The National Archives’ leadership and strategy can be found here.
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Today we are delighted to announce the winners of our first ever creative writing competition for school pupils at Key Stage 2, 3 and 4. Applicants were invited to write a short story describing life in a Victorian workhouse or an experience of the Poor Law and the three winning stories from each Key Stage are:
Outside by Florence Coen
The Darkest Day by Matthew Porter
Boy of the Workhouse by Rebecca Turner
The Kindness of their Hearts by Olivia Wyatt
The Life of a Workhouse Girl by Sandali Dharmarathna
Master’s Rule by Isaac Kim
Hope by Izzy Doyle
The Master’s Entertainment by Madison Connor
Danger in the Dark by Millie Logue
Based on real letters from our new themed collection, Workhouse Voices, the winning entries have now been published on our website, alongside some of the historical documents which inspired their work. Each winner also received a £25 book token and a selection of items from The National Archives Shop.
Clare Horrie, Education Web Manager at The National Archives, said: “We were thrilled by the response to our competition and enjoyed reading the hundreds of fantastic stories we received. Thank you to everyone who entered and congratulations to our deserving winners.”
Entries were judged by a panel from the Education Service at The National Archives and special guest judge, acclaimed children’s author, Sharon Gosling. Judging criteria included realistic characters, good background details on the workhouse system, interesting use of language and dialogue which reflected the time in which stories were set.
To see our full range of free education resources, visit the Education and Outreach homepage.
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Today, The National Archives launches Becoming the Inclusive Archive, a fresh approach to inclusion and a step towards achieving goals set out in the 2019 strategy Archives for Everyone.
In that four-year strategy we stated that we would:
- Remove barriers to access, participation and understanding
- Harness talent from diverse backgrounds
- Be bold, active and outward-looking.
Becoming the Inclusive Archive was approved in January by The National Archives’ Board after a period of development and discussion with key internal and external stakeholders. Its four key workstreams of workforce, audience, practice and position, reflect The National Archives’ comprehensive approach to inclusion.
The plan aims to strengthen and accelerate work and activities already in progress, as well as incorporating new projects being developed in partnership with The National Archives’ Trust, greater accessibility in digital services and archive sector initiatives. It also includes the commitment to work more closely with partners and friends, within and outside of archives, other cultural heritage organisations and bodies, and representative groups and communities.
Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives said:
‘In 2019 we made a commitment to become in every way an archive for the future. A key part of this strategy is our commitment to make our archives truly accessible and inclusive for all, whether that is on site, online or out in our communities.
That mission now feels more important than ever, as we seek to manage and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on access. So Becoming the Inclusive Archive sets out a practical approach, based on what our staff, audiences and communities have told us is important to them. This new plan marks a key step in our progress towards that goal.’
Becoming the Inclusive Archive also serves as a catalyst for us to find new ways to connect people with archives, for example, with our new online events and exhibitions, while bearing in mind the current restrictions.
Vicky Iglikowski-Broad, Principal Records Specialist – Diverse Histories at The National Archives said:
‘Our archive is a real treasure trove of stories from a thousand years of our history. People are often surprised at the diversity and range of our collections and so my colleagues are working to engage with audiences who wouldn’t necessarily think that our archives have something for them.’
We will share how we put Becoming the Inclusive Archive into practice on our website and social media channels.
Current restrictions and access
The National Archives’ on site public services are currently suspended due to nationwide COVID restrictions. Our teams are working remotely, and on site where necessary, to support our statutory work and online public services. Digital downloads have been made free of charge for a limited period to improve access to the collection whilst our reading rooms are closed. Follow us on social media or watch our online news for updates.
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We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sonia Cargan as a new non-executive member to The National Archives’ Board.
Sonia takes up her post this January following a competitive recruitment campaign. Currently Chief Colleague Inclusion and Diversity Officer for American Express, she is responsible for leading American Express’ global strategy for inclusion and diversity and has previously led the company’s human resources functions across Europe and Asia.
She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (UK) and was named one of Black Enterprise’s Most Powerful Women in Corporate Diversity in 2019.
Lesley Cowley, Chair of The National Archives’ Board, said of the appointment: ‘In advertising for this role, we sought an exceptional candidate who can bring the strategic support, challenge and scrutiny appropriate for a publicly-funded body and who also brings particular experience in equality and diversity.
‘We are delighted to have identified a candidate in Sonia who combines these strengths and I look forward to welcoming her as a member of the Board.’
Jeff James, Chief Executive and Keeper of The National Archives, also welcomed Sonia, saying: ‘Sonia joins our Board at a key moment, bringing an impressive record of achievement and international leadership in organisational development and diversity.
‘She joins a strong and dedicated leadership team, committed to navigating through the present period of operational challenge to deliver our strategic vision, Archives for Everyone.
‘Central to that strategy is our commitment to becoming an inclusive archive and I’ve no doubt that her experience will prove invaluable in guiding our progress towards this goal.’
Sonia Cargan said of her appointment: ‘I’m excited to join The National Archives’ Board at this important time. I’ve been impressed by the organisation’s ambition and its board level commitment to diversity and inclusion as absolutely central to achieving its goal to become an archive for the 21st century.’
We are also pleased to confirm the reappointments to our Board for a further term of Baroness (Ros) Scott of Needham Market and Mark Richards.
Further information on The National Archives’ Board is available here.
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Our Collection Care and Licensing, Publishing and Digitisation departments have received £264,000 in funding as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)’s Capability for Collections (CapCo) fund.
The CapCo fund is a landmark £15m investment in the arts and humanities that will help secure the future of the UK’s galleries, libraries, archives and museums. The investment will transform the heritage sector’s ability to generate research and create marketable products, by supporting the back of house spaces that drive the success of these institutions and the staff who maintain them.
The funds we have been awarded will be used for an urgent upgrade of core equipment for our digitisation programme, and the Heritage Science and Conservation Research Laboratory in our Collection Care studio.
The purchase of a microform scanner and a sheet-fed scanner will ensure that we continue to provide rapid and wide-ranging digital copying services for the records in our collections to readers across the globe. A critical upgrade to our multispectral imaging system and the acquisition of an open-geometry micro-Raman analyser will complete the suite of portable analytical instruments in our studio, securing its status as a vital research hub for archival and library heritage science research and innovation in the UK.
Dr Valerie Johnson, Director of Research and Collections at The National Archives, said: “We are delighted to have won funding that will enable research, and help us to share our collections and expertise with readers at The National Archives and colleagues across the cultural heritage sector who work with documentary collections.”
The AHRC Capability for Collections fund is part of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) World Class Labs funding scheme, a £213m investment in all disciplines from physical sciences to arts and humanities, made through eight research councils. The purpose of the funding scheme, which was announced by UKRI on 6 January, is to expand and upgrade existing research infrastructure to help UK researchers tackle major challenges.
Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said: “AHRC are proud to support the CapCo Fund as a landmark investment in our galleries, libraries, archives, museums and special collections. Our Collections organisations form the backbone of our heritage economy and act as a vital resource and source of inspiration for many diverse researchers.
“AHRC recognises that investment in maintaining and improving research facilities will support and maintain these organisations in a vital way at a time when they are most vulnerable.”
See the UKRI announcement for more information: https://www.ukri.org/news/ukri-invests-to-upgrade-uks-world-class-research-infrastructure/
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