Museums and Schools Working Together, Musselburgh

Overview - posted June 2012
The Museum Service worked with the local Trefoil Guild, Musselburgh Museum Committee and local schools to find and recruit local people aged 60+ (Buddies) to work with four classes on a seven-week long role models' project. Both age groups working together undertook research throughout history to find out more about people the pupils were interested in and inspired by. On the opening of the museum’s new exhibition they presented their findings and their physical artwork was also displayed.

The aim of the project was to bring together children from schools in Musselburgh and members of the senior community in a jointly organised and delivered project, in an environment which encouraged sharing of ideas and discussion between generations.

Benefits for the Community
With the breakdown of families, and growing mobility of the population, generational isolation and fear of other generations is increasing. Museums are able to use their collections as a basis from which to develop projects to engage intergenerational groups, and this project illustrates how a well-planned intergenerational project can provide both short-term enjoyable experiences, and support the development of long-term improvement of intergenerational relationships within a small community.

This project also indicates how external partnerships (e.g. with GWT and with East Lothian Council Arts Service) can provide both financial support and additional expertise and other resources to support museum work.

The project allowed older people and local schools to benefit from training, resources and support by local professionals. This resulted in sustainable outcomes for the future of enhanced local identity, improved community relations and a new bank of skills. 

Benefits for the Younger People 
The younger people learnt about history and gained interpersonal skills. They also gained knowledge on topics such as internet use, exhibition duration, artistic presentation and oral communication. These in turn could contribute to the experiences and outcomes in the Curriculum for Excellence.

Teachers remarked upon pupils becoming ‘confident individuals’ due to feeling that they had been specially selected to take part in an important project and worked with other classes to do so. 

Benefits for the Older People
The older people gained valuable volunteer experience and learned new skills. They also gained knowledge on topics such as internet use, exhibition duration, artistic presentation and oral communication. The project gave older people the opportunity to reminisce and share their childhood memories with each class, as one participant says: ‘It made me feel young again’. 

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NFP):

Scottish NFP Objectives
The main NFP objective that this project contributes to is:

 Smarter will focus on improving literacy, numeracy and attainment and on raising and realising ambition for all.

These NFP objectives could also apply:

• Wealthier and Fairer will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish.  

• Safer and Stronger aims to help local communities to flourish and become stronger, safer places to live.

Scottish NFP Outcomes
Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens:  To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century. 

We have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others: Being part of a strong community gives us the support we need locally. It minimises crime, antisocial behaviour and their social and economic costs.

We have improved the life chances for children, young people and families at risk: Tackling risks early and building the resilience of children, young people and families will improve the educational, health and employment outcomes of our people.

Email: Sarah Cowie, Museums Education Officer, East Lothian Council Museums Service

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