Engaging Places Puts Heritage And Architecture On The Curriculum

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 28 May 2008
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photograph of the interior of a modern glass building with a cathedral seen through its large glass frontage

Appreciating new and old architecture will be put firmly on the curriculum with the help of Engaging Places. Photo shows the Forum in Norwich. © Norwich City Council

Children will be encouraged to connect with their local heritage and architecture as part of the school curriculum with the help of the government initiative, Engaging Places.

Exploring the monastic ruins of Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire or interacting with the futuristic design of Leicester's brand new John Lewis could be on the books alongside studying the layout of the local high street under the new scheme, which will be practically supported by major organisations from September 2008.

English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) have joined forces to trial and develop practical ways in which to help children understand why buildings and places matter. Engaging Places will link in with the 'Find Your Talent' programme recently announced by the government, which aims to give pupils five hours of cultural experiences a week.

a photo of a row of warehouses painted in bright red and yellow

© Marketing Birmingham

"The built environment touches us all every day as we walk to the shops of travel to work or school," said Culture Minister Margaret Hodge. "Buildings and public spaces are not just bricks and mortar, but help to define our history, our identity and the bonds which make us feel part of a community or a place."

"By encouraging teachers to engage with their built surroundings, schools will help young people have a better understanding of what makes a good building or a great public space."

A national partnership of leading cultural and education organisations chaired by Anthea Case, Chair of Heritage Link and CABE Commissioner, will develop a network of practical support for schools over the next three years to realise the aims of Engaging Places.

photo shows a stream with an old abbey in the background

Fountains Abbey © NTPL/Andrew Butler

An online resource developed by Culture24 providing a national database of heritage/built environment curriculum materials will also help teachers.

"Young people care a lot about the design of products they use in their daily lives, like iPods and mobiles, but we want them to find the same kind of pleasure and intrigue from thinking about the design of buildings and spaces," said Matt Bell, Director of Campaigns and Education at CABE.

"We are determined that Engaging Places will be the first port of call for teachers all over the country who want to use the built environment to deliver the curriculum in a creative and inspiring way."

Engaging Places will be funded by DCMS, CABE and English Heritage.

More on the venues and organisations we've mentioned:
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