Transforming the use of cultural resources in education

Teaching history with 100 objects, map resource showing objects from 40 museums across the UK. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

Teaching history with 100 objects, map resource showing objects from 40 museums across the UK. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

TES, the largest network of teachers in the world, is launching a project to help transform the education landscape by giving teachers unprecedented access to the world’s very best cultural and online teaching resources.

TES is joining forces with the British Museum, the V&A, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Arts Council England and has the potential to make a significant impact on the status of cultural education in the classroom by placing a wealth of digitised materials into the hands of teachers everywhere.

The partners have made a strategic commitment to work together from June to ensure that hundreds of thousands of images, videos, classroom resources, artist and maker’s guides, archive film clips and celebrity interviews, professional development materials and lesson packs will be accessible through the TES Resources platform, the largest, busiest and fastest growing online classroom resource bank in the world. Over 1 million free and paid resources are currently downloaded from the platform by teachers on any given day.

About the project

The pilot will go beyond the hosting of existing and new materials on the TES platform, focusing on increasing the quality and usefulness of cultural resources in schools. It will look at ways of curating bundles of resources around subject specialisms, for example Shakespeare, and testing directly the impact they make in the classroom through data and dialogue with teachers.

Each participating organisation will be focusing on a key area. The British Museum has an acclaimed object-based approach to teaching and learning and focuses on history from many perspectives; the Royal Shakespeare Company excels in theatre and performance-based explorations of Shakespeare texts and has highly regarded professional development resources for teachers; and the V&A specialises in art, design and many aspects of technology, with materials that act as ‘rocket fuel’ for illustrating creative processes and practice.

Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Musuem said, “The British Museum is committed to showing how object based learning can bring history to life, as we have recently demonstrated in the ‘Teaching History with 100 Objects’ project supported by the Department for Education. Our 100 resources which are based on fascinating objects from 40 museums across the UK will now be able to be part of TES Global in this extremely exciting new pilot project, as we seek to make a reality of our ambition to engage all children with museum objects which tell both local and global stories.

Catherine Mallyon, Executive Director and Gregory Doran, Artistic Director, Royal Shakespeare Company, said: “Enabling greater access to our work for more teachers across the UK and around the world is hugely important to us. We know that Shakespeare has a very special place in the lives of young people not just in this country but in territories all over the world; our research with the British Council suggests that 50% of school children in the world study Shakespeare in any given year. TES is already a vital distribution channel for our resources and we are looking forward to growing the range of materials available to teachers and students as well as deepening our online engagement with them.”

Martin Roth, Director of the V&A said: “It is so important that every child is taught the basics of design and making. Technical skills and knowledge of the designs of the past are fundamental in understanding how to turn wonderful ideas into reality. Design greats, like the late Alexander McQueen whose retrospective we have just opened at the V&A, spent long hours absorbed in the riches of the V&A’s collections and combined this with a complete mastery of his craft, learning his legendary tailoring skills in Savile Row. Britain’s creative industries are world class but in order to maintain that position we need to foster and support the next generation of designers and makers. The V&A is the nation’s resource for art and design, founded to inspire creativity and that is why we are so pleased to be part of TES’s pilot project to help and encourage cultural education in the classrooms and further extend our reach to TES’s vast network of teachers.”

Peter Bazalgette, Chair, Arts Council England said: “A strong cultural education is fundamental to supporting creativity, innovation and free-thinking and is the incubator not just for great minds but is central to our thriving creative industries.  This pilot, from such a well-trusted source as TES, is an exciting step-change in how teachers might access some of the wealth of resources that are on offer; from some of the country’s most inspirational arts and cultural organisations.