Inspiration, identity, learning: the value of museums, second study

In 2006, RCMG was commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the (then) Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), to evaluate their programme of partnerships between national and regional museums in England.

Background

The programme was designed to increase and deepen relationships between museums and schools and to strengthen relationships between museums and communities. The emphasis of the programme was on quality and innovation rather than an increase in volume of use and, as a result, museums, schools and communities were able to try new things, take risks and explore possibilities in a way that would not otherwise have happened. In total, twelve national museums with over fifty regional museum partners were involved in seventeen discrete projects across England. The projects were complex and multi-faceted with a number of partners and a range of activities.

Key findings

The key findings from the evaluation highlight that the programme was highly successful, with:

  • A strong emphasis on working towards social inclusion
  • Effective and deepening partnerships between the educational sector and the museum sector
  • Powerful learning outcomes for pupils including evidence of increased attainment
  • The potential for strong partnerships between museums and communities
  • An increase in participants, museums recording contacts with 47,511 pupils and 23,786 community participants across the programme

These encouraging findings suggested that museums can play a significant role in national life through contributing to state educational provision and through shaping and strengthening self-identities and increasing inter-cultural knowledge and tolerance.

Links with other RCMG evaluations

The findings from this research study were considered in relation to findings from three previous evaluations undertaken for DCMS and MLA:

Together, the four studies give an overview of the impact of museum education capacity-building programmes over the past five years with data collected from 64,063 pupils and 3,579 teachers, and additionally from community audiences.

Outcomes