Last week I spent time at St Katharine’s School, Southbourne helping Year 5 pupils learn about digital archives. The school is involved in the ‘Be the best you can be’ programme which focuses on helping young people discover their unique potential. The programme was launched at the school last autumn with a visit from the Olympic athlete Mark Richardson who spent time with each class talking about what it takes to compete for your country.
- Pupils searching the digital archives
The sessions I led were part of a week long programme of activities and learning opportunities for pupils. Other sessions were led by a graphic designer, a chef and a BBC News journalist. The sessions were not just about learning a new skill but also a chance for pupils to find out more about the skills and expertise needed if you aspired to work in that particular role. I was asked lots of questions about what a researcher does in a university and were else researchers might work. I was also asked why I wanted to be a researcher and what it was like to work in a university. The pupils had never seen a thesis before and asked me why I had done a PhD, why I was interest in that topic and what it was like to work on the same thing for a long time – it was just like being back in my viva!
Digital archives were used in my PhD and I really enjoyed sharing with the pupils some of the knowledge and skills I developed during my research. The first part of the session looked at what archives are and what they could tell us about past events or people. I picked digital archives that could be related back to current topics that Year 5 are thinking about and discussing in class. The second half was a hands-on session for the pupils to explore for themselves a number of digital archives that might help them with current and future project work. It was great to work with the pupils and really interesting to see what captured their imagination and there were some surprises!
The teaching staff also found the sessions very interesting. Through the sessions they discovered some new learning resources which they are going to build into their future teaching. I really enjoyed taking my university skills and experience out into the local community and sharing them with the pupils and staff from St Katharine’s School.