Campaign! Make an Impact: history empowers students' own campaigns

By Rachel Hayward | 22 May 2009
Photo showing a group of teenagers in school uniform posing for the camera

(Above) Students from Primrose High School in Leeds, Skinners’ Company’s School for Girls in Hackney and Endeavour High School in Hull strike a pose for Campaign! Make an Impact. All pictures © Rachel Hayward/Culture24

News: The British Library and MLA's Campaign! Make an Impact launches May 21, 2009 and takes historical campaigns as inspiration for active citizenship.

Launched last night at the British Library in London, Campaign! Make an Impact is a free, cross-curricular national programme that uses historical campaigns to enable students to run their own campaigns about issues that affect them.

And now Campaign! Make an Impact is online and provides schools with a tried and tested package of materials based upon a three step model of successful campaigning: Historical Campaigns, Make Yourself Heard and Run Your Campaign.

A highly successful three-year pilot of Campaign! Make an Impact has already taken place. It has seen schools work closely with local museum and library collections to research historical campaigns, then bring creative practitioners on board to develop students’ creative campaigns with film and audio techniques as well as artwork.

You can watch an introduction to Campaign! Make an Impact on YouTube.

Photo showing three teenage girls in school uniform

(From left to right) Shannon, Stoney and Ebony from Skinners' Company's School for Girls in Hackney, London worked with the British Library and studied the campaigning tactics of the suffragettes.

They then went on to make a film against knife crime with film maker Dan Saul.

Endeavour High School in Hull studied the abolition of the slave trade with Hull Museums and created a campaign exhibition with films about racism and social cohesion.

Photo showing two teachers and two teenage students

(From left to right) Aqil, Laamar Dlaimi, Anne Hewitt and Sayed from Endeavour High School in Hull.

One of the most moving stories to have come out of the Campaign! Make an Impact pilots is that of Sayed (pictured above on the right).

Sayed escaped from the Taliban in Afghanistan, following the deaths of his close family. Sayed ended up making part of his journey to England hidden underneath a lorry.

Jane Avison from Hull Museums was full of admiration for Sayed, “I think the project helped cleanse him and encouraged him to deal with his experiences by telling his story. The students realised that the project gave them a voice and that they could make a difference.”

Sayed’s film was shown to the rest of the school. “They were very proud of us and it makes me happy.” commented Sayed.

Photo showing two young women smiling at the camera

(From left to right) Jane Avison and Sarah Howard from Hull Museums.

Students from Primrose High School in Leeds worked with Thackray Museum and explored their medical collection. Thackray Museum then organised workshops with creative practitioners for the students. One of the groups chose to campaign about bullying and made a huge wall piece installation with artists Burnett and Catt. This is due to go on display in the Museum.

Elee Kirk, Education Officer at the Thackray Museum, described how proud she was of the students from Primrose High School, “They produced such brilliant work and we really enjoyed working with them. It gave us as a museum the chance to explore new areas of our collection.”

Photo showing teenage girl in school uniform pointing at art work

Carly (left), from Primrose High School in Leeds spoke about the sense of empowerment the project had given her, “I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s a fun thing for you all to do together. I think I’m more confident now because before this project I wouldn’t be doing something like talking to people at a launch like tonight.”

Joe, also a student at Primrose High School said, “The best thing about my school is how multi-cultural it is and that you can mix with anybody. You know how youths can just be known for causing crime and nothing else? Well, I was really excited having our voices heard and putting the record straight.”

Photo showing teenage boy in school uniform

(From left to right) Joe, Aram and Carly from Primrose High School in Leeds.

As well as raising students’ self-esteem and skills, Campaign! Make an Impact even has an impact (excuse the pun) on students' options.

Photo showing teacher with teenage students

(Pictured left) Simon Jones, Head of History at Primrose High School, spoke about the rise from twelve to thirty-three students opting to take GCSE History next year and commented that the hands-on activities of Campaign! Make an Impact had helped to enthuse and inspire the students about the subject.

“It really wasn’t any more than normal planning to fit the Campaign work into the curriculum," he continued and added, "We were able to just slot in the input from the museums. We’re now looking at a similar approach to other units such as the one we cover on the Holocaust.”

Grants are available and CPD days for trainee teachers, teachers and museums will take place in order to support future Campaign! Make an Impact work. For more details on how to get involved, check out Campaign! Make an Impact.

Campaign! Make an Impact is a partnership between the British Library and MLA (Museums, Libraries and Archives) Council.

Roger Walshe, Head of Learning at the British Library, praised the students involved in the Campaign! Make an Impact pilots for what he called their fantastic work, "Campaign! Make an Impact is a unique and empowering learning programme that equips young people with the advocacy tools they need to make a difference in today's world. Our heritage collections can really illustrate the parallels between historical and modern campaign tactics and I encourage more schools and museums to go online and get involved."

Hedley Swain, Director of Programme Delivery at the MLA, also congratulated the students and noted, “This wonderful project shows that by using examples from history, young people can take power into their own hands. It’s reinventing material culture for a new age.”

Swain went on to praise Hull Museums and the other museums who had forged such exciting links with schools as a result of Campaign! Make an Impact.

Ali Bodley, the Project Manager for Campaign! Make an Impact, echoed Hedley Swain’s comments when she spoke of the students being able to “…take inspiration from historical figures and events and learn from them. And now they’ve developed their own creative and outstanding voices.”

Culture24 will shortly be bringing you more on the individual projects involved in the pilot of Campaign! Make an Impact.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned: