Leeds Museums and Galleries, together with the Local Cultural Education Partnership, have launched the Leeds Curriculum, a new one-stop resource for primary school teachers across the region. Hosted online via MYLearning.org, the Leeds Curriculum features 50 ‘stories’ taken from the city’s rich cultural history which can be used by teachers to deliver exciting lessons in the classroom.
A true collaboration, the place-based initiative was designed by teachers and pupils from more than 30 schools, who drew upon information, resources and archives provided by over 40 different arts, cultural and community organisations across Leeds. The result is a series of 27 stories, exploring everything from the prehistoric Armley hippo through to Victorian-era crime and punishment and the development of innovation and enterprise.
An exploration of the arts and Leeds’s international communities feature heavily in the programme, which forms a key part of the ongoing Leeds Culture Strategy and is the first programme to grow out of the Arts Council’s Local Cultural Education Partnership.
Kate Fellows, Lifelong Learning Manager at Leeds Museums and Galleries hopes that all primary school children in the city will be able to benefit from the Leeds Curriculum. She said: “Other cities have created place-based curriculums before but never on this scale of collaboration. We are really leading the way forward. So much hard work has gone into developing and designing the Leeds Curriculum from everyone involved and I’m delighted that children across the city will now have access to a wealth of resources which will help them to discover more about their home.
“Place-based curriculums, like this one, are proven to raise attainment. Arts and culture are not an added extra; they are a fundamental way of delivering curriculum goals, helping with children’s health and wellbeing and helping to create well-rounded individuals. Research has shown that children who participate in the arts are three times more likely to get a degree and three times more likely to vote when they grow up.”
The Leeds Curriculum was unveiled during an event at the Leeds City Museum (14 June) attended by teachers from across the city, as well as representatives from the region’s arts and cultural organisations, who had the opportunity to test out the stories’ accompanying resources, curated by Leeds Museums, for themselves. The event also saw the launch of a redeveloped, national MYLearning.org resource website, an open platform for teachers which hosts the Leeds Curriculum.
The launch comes ahead of a meeting later this month (27 June) in which Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will discuss a proposal from the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group to continue with the Leeds Culture Trust, which was set up as a shadow organisation during the bid for Leeds to become the European Capital of Culture. Children and young people were at the heart of the bid and continue to be a key focus as the city moves towards the delivery of its own year of culture in 2023.
Sharon Watson, Chair of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering commented: “In the Bid Book for the Leeds 2023 bid we featured the theme of ‘Voice’. This focussed on activity relevant and beneficial to young people, a commitment which we plan to continue as the programme is developed for 2023.
“The Leeds Curriculum is a fantastic idea which will put arts, culture and pride in the city at the heart of our children’s education. They will get to grow up in city that offers them access to arts education as well as the greatest artists from across the globe mixing with our own home-grown talent, all ensuring they grow up with the confidence, skills, wellbeing and ambitions they deserve.”
Commenting on the project, Sarah Beckett, Cultural Education Manager at IVE, the Leeds-based VE is a social enterprise that is working to ensure a more creative future for businesses, teachers, children and young people via the Leeds Local Cultural Education Partnership, said: “I’m really impressed with the work that’s gone into creating the Leeds Curriculum which has involved resources and effort from organisations across the Leeds Local Cultural Education Partnership.
“The new curriculum gives a fascinating cross-section of the city’s history and culture from the prehistoric Armley Hippo to Houdini and Henry Moore. It’s a great opportunity for primary teachers, and of course their pupils, to discover creative, locally-linked routes into the national curriculum.”
Sallie Elliot, Head of Swillington Primary School added: “Every child and young person should have access to a high-quality arts and cultural education and all of the proven benefits it brings. As a headteacher, I think that the Leeds Curriculum is a fantastic idea and one which will benefit our pupils for years to come.”
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