Hackney Schools Archive Project Is First Roots & Wings Winner

By David Prudames | 25 May 2004
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Shows a photograph of a group of children, accompanied by Arts Minister Estelle Morris and Loyd Grossman, gathered around a Roots and Wings banner which has been placed on some stone steps. A London street is visible in the background.

Photo: Arts Minister Estelle Morris and 24 HM Chairman Loyd Grossman, joined children from the shortlisted projects at an award ceremony at the Royal Society for the Arts in London. © 24 Hour Museum.

A project giving primary school children from the London Borough of Hackney the chance to create their own historic archives has been named the overall winner of the first Roots & Wings awards.

Organised by Curiosity and Imagination, the national network dedicated to providing interactive learning for children, Roots and Wings aims to celebrate projects that use heritage in education.

From a list of six heritage learning projects from all over the UK, a panel of judges selected the Travelling Archive Project as the overall winner.

"It’s absolutely wonderful for the children involved who completely rose to the challenge," Natasha Wolffe, Co-Director of Time and Place Projects told the 24 Hour Museum.

Shows a photograph of papers bound with ribbon, scrolls and books, which have been scattered on a table.

Photo: children from four primary schools in Hackney formed societies and created their own archives.© 24 Hour Museum.

"They were authentic archivists and did a fantastic job and all the teachers really supported us over a very long project."

The kids were encouraged to form learned societies and create journals, rolls of honour, certificates and portraits of members.

For two of the young archivists the experience of forming the Journey Society was "interesting and fun". Ending up as Roots & Wings winners was even better.

"I feel great," said Joe, who told the 24 Hour Museum that a visit to the London Metropolitan Archives gave his class of 30 a real sense of what they were trying to recreate.

"We were amazed at how neat their handwriting was," added Joe’s classmate Sunita. "Miss kept nagging us about how neat it was."

Shows a photograph Arts Minister Estelle Morris standing alongside two children, who are holding a certificate, and Loyd Grossman.

Photo: Joe and Sunita who took part in the The Travelling Archive project are congratulated by Estelle Morris and Loyd Grossman. © 24 Hour Museum.

Among the other projects celebrated on the night was a dance piece in which 50 14-16-year-olds were helped by the Rambert Dance Company to create an original performance inspired by the National Trust-owned Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.

The Children’s Express project, Our Roots, Our Heritage, which gave eight to 18-year-old journalists assignments to write pieces about heritage issues was also a winner.

Speaking at the ceremony, which was part sponsored by the 24 Hour Museum, Arts Minister Estelle Morris praised the efforts of the shortlisted projects and stressed the importance "of letting children have a sense of community and place in where they’re born and grow up and where their families come from."

In a world where more and more people are living and working outside of their native country, she added, "the need to give them roots is more important than it ever was."

Shows a still from The Accident, a silent film about a mining accient in 1900. It is sepia toned and features three children dressed in period clothes.

Photo: "it was interesting because instead of being modern days, it was back in the past" said Adam, a young star of a silent film made with the Tom Leonard Mining Museum. © 24 Hour Museum.

"We assume children will grow up understanding built heritage and the environment, but we wouldn’t say that about reading and writing," said the Minister.

"We can’t expect young people to grow up appreciating their built heritage and the environment unless we have given them the skills to understand that part of their community."

Her words were echoed by 24 Hour Museum and Campaign For Museums chairman Loyd Grossman, who said: "Heritage is not about the past, it’s about giving meaning to our communities now and creating a future."

A silent film about a mining accident in 1900 made by children from Hummersea primary school in Loftus with staff at the Tom Leonard Mining Museum was also among the selected projects.

Shows a video still of a girl standing against the background of a graffitied wall. She is in mid-speech.

Photo: young journalists from Children's Express have been producing articles about heritage issues including a piece for the 24 HM about the Empire and Commonwealth Museum in Bristol. © 24 Hour Museum.

"The kids were absolutely brilliant to work with," said filmmaker Neil Scarth. "They were really easy to deal with and really put themselves into the project."

"There were kids there that found out about their own personal and very close relatives during filming," he added, "It was fantastic to see them realise their own history."

The Tom Leonard Mining Museum in Cleveland is a purely volunteer-run organisation and Mick Benson, who led the project, said its inclusion showed the amazing things such institutions have been able to achieve.

He explained how in her speech Estelle Morris had spoken about "making a difference and changing people’s lives". "We are doing it," he said, "all we need is some support."

Roots & Wings is supported by the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust and Esmée Fairburn Foundation.

The selected projects in full:

  • The Travelling Archive, Time and Place Projects, London - to learn about the world of archives, children from four Hackney primary schools formed their own societies and created archives for them
  • Dance project at Kedleston Hall, Derbyshire - part of the National Trust's Redrow Schools Partnership Project, 50 14-16-year-olds worked with the Rambert Dance Company to create an original performance inspired by the house and its connection with India
  • Our Roots, Our Heritage, Children's Express - a programme of learning through journalism for children and young people, who've been writing pieces about heritage issues, including a number for the 24 Hour Museum
  • The Accident, Tom Leonard Mining Museum, Cleveland - pupils from Hummersea primary school in Loftus worked with staff at the museum to produce a silent film about a mining accident in 1900
  • Start Singing, Surestart: Carlisle South and Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery - children aged six months - four years used museum objects and costumes to bring nursery rhymes to life
  • The Touring Mackintosh Tea Room, The Lighthouse - primary school children created life size tea rooms inspired by the work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
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