Education On the Road: An Anglo-Saxon Experience

8 March 2024

The Learning Team at Ipswich Museum are currently working hard behind the scenes to design the new school workshops and refresh old favourite ones, ready for delivery when the museum reopens next year. In addition, we are also currently developing learning sessions that we can take out ‘on the road’ to our local schools while the museum remains closed. In this way, the children can still have access to our wonderful collections to enhance their learning. So, the museum goes to the schools while the schools can’t come to us! For the first of these sessions, we worked with Stone Lodge Academy to create sessions for pupils with learning difficulties in specialist education, based on the topic of the Anglo-Saxons.

Prior to delivery, the students had sent us specific questions that they wanted to ask, some of which really got us thinking! Our resident Anglo-Saxon enthusiast and Visitor Services staff member, Tim, translated them into the runic alphabet and prepared images to help to answer each of the children’s question.

We arrived at the school with a collection of props, reproductions, artefacts and, most importantly, Tim dressed as an Anglo-Saxon. Many students were surprised and fascinated to see an Anglo-Saxon character come to life. They listened brilliantly and asked great questions. We passed around some objects including a replica helmet and shield, an approximately 1000-year-old spear head, shield boss and a comb from the museum collection, along with some replica jewellery.

The students were particularly excited by the explanation of how to use a sword, a knife, a shield and a spear in battle, and being shown what the best combination was (a spear and a shield, in case you were wondering).

We delivered four 30-minute sessions with a range of year groups. We also had a chance to get feedback from school staff about what worked well from their perspective. The students were able to have an informative and enjoyable experience and the staff commented that some individuals who were usually very shy gained the confidence to ask questions or to come up to us at the end to look at the rest of the artefacts we brought along and to chat. They were thrilled to see the level of participation that these sessions elicited.

Going forward, we will make a few tweaks to the specialist provision offer based on our learning at Stone Lodge, and then we aim to develop a workshop to take to mainstream schools later this academic year. Keep an eye out on our social media channels to find out when we’re taking bookings!

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