Herts, Beds and Luton Education Forum
Learning Newsletter – April 2009
On the education front, we continue to welcome schools not only from Bushey and
Watford but over the Herts border in the Harrow area. Recently we have led two
sessions from a Harrow school on the aspect of ‘Still Life’ in Art Appreciation and next
term there will be two further sessions on ‘Landscape Paintings ’ This has given us the
opportunity to draw upon our considerable art collection.
One of popular visits continues to be our Victorian Experience, which includes all
participants dressing a la mode and enjoying working at Reveley Lodge, our
Victorian/Edwardian house; the climax is a Victorian tea complete with bone china.
On personnel matters:
• David Whorlow, who has been working 3 days at Bushey (as Managing
Curator) will be working one day less in Bushey, in order to spend more time in
developing the new museum in Borehamwood
• The Managing Director of Bushey Museum, Bryen Wood, who worked tirelessly
in the development and expansion of the Museum over many years died on
Thursday 26th March.
The Dacorum Heritage Trust
Victorian Sampler project – Between Wednesday, 28 January and Monday, 9 March
we worked with St Hilda’s school in Harpenden and Brockswood Primary school in
Hemel Hempstead on a 6 week cross curricular cross stitch Victorian project. Nina and
I visited both schools at the start of the project to run an introductory workshop about
Victorian life, using our handling collection and objects from our loan boxes and
introduce the project. Digital images of the samplers were left at the school to give the
pupils inspiration for their own work and children were encouraged to research
samplers on the internet and in books. DHT staff went to both schools twice after the
initial session to look at designs and help start them sewing and then to award
certificates for participating in the project.
Outcomes of the project
• Teacher from St Hilda’s has booked an archaeological workshop in September
to start her Medieval topic
• Teacher has agreed to be our pilot for any project on Victorians, Tudors or
• We are working on a straw plaiting project with this school to encompass the
history of straw plaiting in the area and millinery – we are researching the
possibility of making straw boaters for the children’s teddy bears as the final
• Brockswood Primary School would like to work with us again next year if she
has World War II or Victorians
Small Grants scheme
• Due to the success of this project and the potential to use it again next year we
applied to the Hertfordshire Museums Small Grants scheme for money to make
replicas of the 2 most fragile samplers in our collection and mount and frame
the rest of the collection. We were successful in our bid and Libby Finny has
agreed to mount our samplers and I am meeting with four of the Croxley
needlecrafters to discuss practicalities of making the replicas.
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We ran an Evacuation day for 57 year 4 pupils from a school in Tring on Friday, 13
March, the school arrived by train and walked up the hill to the Civic centre which we
had booked for the morning. As the group was so large it was decided to split the
children into 6 groups of 10 and have 6 stations running activities consecutively. Each
group was 20 minutes long and the signal for each group to move on was an air raid
siren which we had borrowed from the Museum of Technology. The activities were led
by staff and volunteers and were: large object handling (mortar bomb, wireless and
warden bicycle), making gas masks, ARP wardens and the blackouts, Air Raid shelter,
Government propaganda posters and listening to an evacuee who travelled from
London to Berkhamsted.
Outcomes of the day
• Front page in the Berkhamsted and Tring Gazette
• Booking from Grove Road to repeat the visit next year
• Greenway school wants the same visit for 90 pupils (2 sessions run for 45
pupils) in late April
Festival of British Archaeology
We are running drop-in family activities for the festival of British Archaeology on 2
Saturdays in July/August. We are using the children’s sections in the Berkhamsted and
Tring libraries and will take displays and objects about Dacorum’s archaeological sites.
We are liasing with library staff at present about the activity and materials we can and
Royal British Legion
In November we are working with the Berkhamsted branch of the Royal British Legion
on remembrance themed object handling sessions for brownie, guide, beaver, cub and
scout packs. DHT will provide the objects while volunteers from the British Legion will
talk about the importance of remembering and the significance of Remembrance day.
Each child will plant a poppy and decorate their pot using objects from DHT’s collection
Public consultation exhibition – 5-6 March we held a public consultation event about the
proposed refurbishment of the Museum Store, over the 2 days it was open we had over
200 visitors all of whom completed questionnaires about the exhibition and our plans.
Results of the questionnaires will be used in our bid to the HLF which we are working
January, March tours of the store were full – they were booked by groups who had
heard of the Store through our volunteers. April tour is booked by a WI group in
Chipperfield who have booked all 12 places.
Hemel Hempsted PROBUS group – 24 March we ran a trade and industry
exhibition/tour of the store for HH PROBUS group. We have 20 people attending all of
whom gave very popular and there were even suggestions of donations of artefacts to
the Museum Store.
Following a meeting in late 2008 with the Hemel Volunteer centre we have seen a rise
in the number of people contacting us wanting to volunteer. Nina ran a one day basic
MODES training course for 8 new volunteers who are now working on a complete audit
of the Store in addition to helping with our research and enquiry service.
Hitchin British Schools
The School’s programme was disrupted at the start of February due to the snow.
However, seven schools visited during the month bringing in 238 children and 33
adults. We are finding more and more that schools are not using the shop which means
income from school shop sales is sometimes very low. This is a sign of the times with
two schools cancelling their booking due to lack of parent contributions to run the trip.
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Our ‘Outreach’ programme will be offered to schools who cancel for this reason. March
continues to be as busy with schools participating in the Victorian programme and the
monitorial experience. This enables us to accommodate up to 120 pupils at one time!
Learning Links continues with Hitchin Girls School where the resources provided from
our archive have given an added dimension to the history unit for Year 12 enabling the
students to answer the question: What can information and the sources provided from
the British Schools Museum reveal to us about the role of working class women in
The Museum opened for the February Half Term for Family Events. A Maypole Dancing
workshop was fully subscribed and the 26 children were able to entertain their parents
afterwards with a demonstration of the dances they had learnt. We had a busy two
days as families visited the museum to find out what school was like in the past by
following our children’s Discovery Trail. Prizes were awarded for completed Trails. This
was very successful with many families participating.
The museum participated in events for the North Hertfordshire Book Festival hosting a
Premiere performance of a show in drama and song about the Waterways of Britain
Past and Present, entitled Where the Working Boats Went. This proved to be very
popular with a sell-out of 140 tickets. The Lancasterian schoolroom was an ideal venue
for such an event.
A number of talks and other events have taken place: one event was linked to World
War II where an evacuee experience was re-enacted; a talk was given on the setting up
of York Road and Weston Way Nursery schools (both of these nurseries were set up to
enable women to work in the factories for the War effort), while the reading scheme
Janet and John was the subject of another presentation. We have recently been able to
acquire a publisher’s copies of books and resources from this very popular reading
scheme of the 50’s and 60’s for our archive.
A massive second hand book sale (including an appearance of the “Star Wars Storm
Troopers”) was another great fund raising event.
As you can see the museum is very busy and our dedicated volunteers continue to man
every event to keep this museum financially sustainable; a hard task in the best of
We will continue with an active programme of events over the Easter Weekend when
we open for the season with an Easter Egg Trial.
Exhibitions to come – the beginning of April sees the touring exhibition,‘Victorian Child -
at Work and Play’ coming to the museum. From our own Jill Grey Collection, we will
present ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ an exhibition of children’s costume from the late
Victorian and Edwardian eras; and Noddy’s 60th birthday with displays of Noddy books,
toys, artefacts, etc.
Counters and Dice - a holiday activity for children - see website for details of this and
I am currently developing a WW2 session alongside a volunteer (and ex-teacher) which
we are going to be piloting during the summer term.
Humanities week at local primary school
I have been approached by the history coordinator at a local primary school to assist in
supporting their humanities week which will explore world cultures, and I have decided
to investigate our ethnography/world collections in order to do this, which will be really
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interesting and exciting, as this part of the museum collection has had very little
research done on it to date. I have organised to visit Northampton Museums to find out
about a similar project they had a few years ago to put together a world cultures loans
box, to talk about suitability of these collections for handling, both literally and ethically.
Local History study
I am working with another local teacher to develop a local history unit based on the
town of Hertford and its growth and change. It is hoped that this will culminate in the
development of a town tour and possible resources to support the unit of work.
Hertford Museum Roadshow
I am busy working on the events programming for the summer’s activities called the
‘Museum Roadshow’. We are hiring 5 venues, every Tuesday during the summer
holidays in and around Hertford. Each week will have a theme related to the museum
collections (Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, Dark Herts (Crime and Punishment), The
Home Front, Toothbrushes, The Victorian House) and also partner agencies (such as
Rockwatch, HALS and Herts Police who are all confirmed at present) who will also
contribute to making each community centre/church hall an interactive space for the
day. At each venue we hope to have a temporary exhibition case for a display on a
theme (and objects!), handling objects, exhibition panels, members of staff (or
volunteers) to talk about the specific collection, exhibition boards with timeline and
photographs of the progress on the building works and new exhibitions at the museum
throughout closure, teas, coffees etc, a shop, children’s craft activities to fit in with
theme, information about the museum; opportunities to volunteer etc and information
from partner organisations.
Presentation at History Coordinators conference
I recently presented to the History Coordinators conference in Stevenage at HCC
Development Centre. I talked about museum learning and also the changes happening
at Hertford Museum.
We now have a museum blog so if you want to find out more about the museum in
general, including outreach events and projects, as well as the redevelopment, here’s
the place to go: http://blog.hertfordmuseum.org/
12th/13th April – Jousting at Easter with “The Spectacular Knights of Royal England” –
Show times 12.30 and 2.30
2nd – 4th May – Hertfordshire Garden Show – the county’s number one garden show
7th June – Classic Motorcycle Show – the largest bike show in Hertfordshire
21st June – Fathers’ Day Cars in the Park – from British classics through Americana to
28th June – 31st July Zimsculpt Exhibition - the return of the magical experience that is
Zimsculpt – over 100 stone sculptures from Zimbabwe set in the glorious gardens.
Meet two of the sculptors. All pieces are on sale. Prices range from £10.00 to
First Garden City Heritage Museum, Letchworth
We have just opened our new exhibition, SCHOOL DAYS, which runs until 6th June,
and looks at education in the Garden City.
Our consultants, Pathways to the Past, will be completing their project at the end of
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April, so from May we’ll be offering a more comprehensive visit to local schools looking
to study their local area. The consultants have developed an outline for primary school
visits which includes handling objects, drama and arts and crafts activities making visits
more interactive and hands-on.
Plans are developing well for ‘Opening Doors’ week, a KS1 schools week to be held in
conjunction with Letchworth Museum. Cas Sanders has developed activities around
Edwardian life, such as washing, rag rug making and postcard & packaging design in
addition to playing with period toys. The classes will also have a class photograph
taken by an ‘Edwardian’ photographer, which they will be able to take back to school.
Slots are being offered to Letchworth schools for free, and we have filled all but the
Friday afternoon slot.
Our February half-term family craft sessions were well attended so we have decided to
hold them again in the May half-term.
We recently held our first over 50s event as part of our ‘Letchworth at Home’ exhibition.
Approx. 30 people came along to our Edwardian Tea Party to enjoy free tea, scones,
cake and cucumber sandwiches, in addition to gramophone music and a tutorial in
Edwardian flower arranging.
For the Museums at Night weekend, we will be opening late on the Friday and Saturday
nights. The Friday night will be aimed at adults; hopefully we will have a quartet from a
local school playing. The Saturday night will be aimed at families with activities and
Museum of Technology
We had a visit from Woolgrove School, the 8 pupils that came were so well behaved,
and going by the thank you card they sent us, they also had a great time, we put
several handling items out and that proved to be a big hit.
Jane and Fatima came to the museum and gave us some very valuable advice
regarding school loan boxes, the school data base and school visits.
Rosie and Ken enjoyed a very useful training session on Whiteboards. Learning about
the applications that the schools can download proved to be a complete eye-opener.
(I thought whiteboards were the same as blackboards only plastic).
The next day Brendan came to the museum and we had yet another training session
on getting our museum onto the E2BN gallery, after one hic-cup all went very well, and
we now have a good presence on the site, we are adding to that site when we have the
time and the museum web site is still undergoing changes, the ability to get opinions
from our web visitors is a great way of finding out a few more facts about the artefacts,
the comments usually start with “I’ve got one of those……” but on the whole we have
had some very good feed back.
The news that the museum had obtained the Hertfordshire Museum Grants award, was
very welcome, Rosie is having a good deal of fun putting two WW2 loan boxes
together, describing everything in the box on the teachers notes is a bit more like hard
work, we will take photos of the contents and then put everything onto a new web page,
which we are in the process of developing.
The new “Resources for Schools” page will show teachers the contents of the loan
boxes and have a link to the e2bn site. Rosie has done a good deal of research, via the
web, on what other museums have put into their WW2 loan boxes, they are all so
different, but now we have a very good idea of what to put into ours to create a great
The next thing to do is write to the local schools, and let them know what our new
service has to offer them.
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Meanwhile we have several visits booked, including an evening visit from a radio club
coming from Windsor!
Potters Bar Museum
Accreditation – we have almost completed the accreditation process, despite delays
caused by the closure of the MLA East of England offices, and our only outstanding
requirement is to receive a renewal lease of occupancy for our museum premises from
Hertsmere Borough Council.
During the last week of January, following a period of sustained heavy rain, the
museum was flooded making closure necessary for several days. Due to a blocked
drain, the flat roof became a pond which eventually reached a level where the water,
tainted with a mixture of pigeon mess, entered an air vent, broke through the ceiling
tiles and flooded the museum. The carpet was pungent! The necessary services were
brought in and the museum cleaned, dried and the ceiling repaired in just under a
week. Fortunately the flood did not occur overhead of any exhibits but one wall display
was slightly damaged.
There have been no school contacts during the bad winter weather, this is not unusual.
Members of the Education Committee have been invited to attend a history teachers
meeting in April to discuss possible spring term links.
In March, following recent co-operation between the two museums, two members of the
Potters Bar Museum were pleased to accept invitations to attendt the official opening of
the Mill Green Museum’s latest exhibition, ‘The Age of Steam’.
Our collection of 25 local history ‘home made’ publications has been added to with the
printing of the latest account by our archivist entitled ‘Reappraisal of the Battle of
Our website has now received a total of over 1300 hits in eighteen months.
A full programme of exhibitions has been arranged for this year, the next one opening
on Easter Saturday which will show prints by Liz Beardwell. She will also be
demonstrating the original Royston Crow Columbian printing press from 2-4pm and the
public can ‘Try & Buy’ a print for themselves.
The Schools Loan box has been used by two schools with the emphasis being on Toys
and a worksheet has been developed to support this. We hope that take-up will
increase when the proposed leaflet being prepared by Jane Munns and Fatima
Choudhury (Hub Educational Learning Officer) is circulated.
Fatima visited the museum recently to take us through the proposed changes to the
National Curriculum and gave us a very useful insight as to how our collection might be
The digital projector for which she obtained funding for us last year is being put to good
use and has recently supported presentations given by the curator about the Museum
and Royston Tapestry to societies based in Ashwell and Royston.
The Royston Time Trackers young archaeology group which meets every month had a
lively (and noisy!) session exploring how and why early man made different types of
sounds from natural resources. The curator provided several early musical instruments
including a genuine didgeridoo and the Time Trackers brought in a wide range of their
own instruments. Other sessions have included the use and identification of coins and
crop marks and the group is now preparing to take part in the Museum Family Fun Day
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on July 44h for National Archaeology Week.
The St Albans Museums Service
The St Albans in the Home Front exhibition at the Museum of St Albans is continuing to
prove popular with local schools and general visitors.
This exhibition ends on June 28th to be replaced the following month with , “Lost Rails”
as the new temporary exhibition.
Currently the education dept is planning 2 family events to celebrate the 500th
anniversary of Henry VIII’s accession to the throne – which should be fun. Also a
Roman Family fun day to celebrate the 70th birthday of Verulamium Museum has also
been planned for Sunday May 10th, 11am – 4pm. Should be a lovely event – there will
be gladiators, legionaries and Roman civilians demonstrating a variety of aspects of
military and civilian life.
Science week was very successful with school visitor figures of 542 children and 63
adults for the week.
Happy to report, very busy. Now booking into June and early July.
Education booklet 2009-10
I have just finished writing our Education Booklet for 2009 -10 and hope to have that in
schools by June of this year. New workshops added include ‘The Great Fire of London’
year 2 and ‘The New Town Debate‘ years 5 & 6. I also hope to be able to offer a
‘Remembrance WWI’ workshop for year 2 by November 09.
‘Pets’ opens 4 April until 6 June followed by ‘Super Heroes’ 4 July until 26 September.
The museum hosted a small display and talk for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans History
Month and there is interest in setting up an ongoing LGBT local history group.
Jeannot Posso, who had a photographic exhibition last year, is running a photography
project for young people at the museum.
Watford High Street Trails will return in June. Over 2,000 people have now been on a
trail and there’s been more interest since a double page spread appeared in the
We’ve been approached by Mencap to work on activities for people with learning
disabilities, starting with an evening visit to the museum for one of their groups.
2009 sees the centenary of the purchase of the first section of Cassiobury as a public
park and events are being planned to celebrate in partnership with the Parks
Department and Watford Central Library.
Watford Museum will be taking part in the Watford Live! Festival in June with a late
night opening of the museum.
We’re working with SW Herts Archaeological and Historical Society on an archaeology
event at the museum in September.
Art appreciation lectures have been hugely successful and a new programme for
Autumn/Winter 2009 has been confirmed.
As part of the FDMX project, West Herts College have funded a talk on the Golden Age
of Bollywood in March. Our Easter workshops are also taking a Bollywood theme.
Sarah was asked to speak at a seminar for Surrey and Sussex museums about
working with people with mental health issues and will also be speaking at the Share
event on Engaging the hard to reach.
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Hertfordshire Adult Learning Partnership (HALP)
The Family Learning Festival 2009 will run from 17-31 October - see www.cfl.org.uk
This includes half term.
HALP have been busy preparing their Adult Learning Week leaflets which will be
available from most areas in Herts after Easter. Please contact your local learning
partnership coordinator for copies, but many museums will receive these as in previous
News from East Herts: the Forge Museum at Much Hadham has reopenend after a
major refurbishment to its buildings and garden area. Attractions at this delightful rural
history resource include Tudor wall paintings and a working blacksmith.
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