Oxford Brookes University PGCE students January 2014


For many years Oxford Brookes University has worked with the University of Oxford's Museums and Collections and a number of other heritage venues in the county to deliver out-of-school learning experiences for its trainee teachers.

This year we were approached to work with their Primary School PGCE students.  The participating venues were grouped together, to deliver sessions to groups of up to 30 students over 3 days:


The aim was for the students to experience all the venues in their cluster, and have the opportunity to explore how to use museums and collections to support their teaching of the humanities and arts curriculum.  During their time at our cluster of venues, the students were asked to work in small groups on the following project:

How to embed a museum or collection visit into you teaching

  • Choose a topic from the new history or geography curriculum (either Key Stage 1 or Key Stage 2)
  • Decide how your topic could be linked to one of the venues and plan a school visit
  • Think about pre- and post-visit activities - how would your class prepare for visiting the museum and how could you follow up a visit?
  • Prepare a 3-4 minute verbal presentation to explain how you would use your chosen venue to support your topic
  • Remember to include 3 "wow" moments (pre-visit, during the visit, post-visit) to keep the students engaged


Day 1 - University Museum of Natural History, Oxford

We began with a general introduction and tour of the museum, including the history of the museum and the story of the great evolution debate in the Huxley Room.  We then discussed the value of learning from objects, and showcased an object from each of our collections, to demonstrate how an individual object can be linked to many different elements of the primary curriculum.  There was then the opportunity for the students to explore some of the museum's objects, to consider how each one could be linked to the history or geography curriculum.



Day 2 - River and Rowing Museum, Henley

The tour of the museum focussed on how history and geography can be woven into school visits, using the museum objects as springboards.  It also included an introduction into how to manage groups in museum spaces, and how to interact with objects in glass cases.  We took a walk along the River Thames to hear how the programmes at the museum use the outdoor learning environment.  Students then participated in a screen printing workshop, to see how art is incorporated into one of the school sessions at the museum.  There was also time for the students to explore the collections independently.



Day 3 - Botanic Garden, Oxford

Students were taken on a tour of the Botanic Garden, to find out how this living collection can be used by visiting school groups to cover the history and geography curriculum.  After an object handling exercise, scavenger hunt and an exploration of the activity backpacks, students finalised their project presentations.



Day 3 - Sharing session at the University Museum of Natural History

On the final afternoon, all the PGCE students re-grouped to share their experiences of museums and collections, and to hear the plenary speech from one of their course tutors from Oxford Brookes.


Feedback from participants

Hands on, interactive, jam packed few days!  Looked at a range of subjects and inspirational ideas to use in the classroom.  Sensory hands-on approaches are much more effective than simply handing out worksheets.

Three days of interactive activities in three different locations which allows you to see how teaching can work in alternative environments.

I feel I will know where to start and be more creative when I come to plan a museum visit.

It gave the opportunity to explore the history and geography curriculum in a range of ways, and to understand how to use a trip to enhance learning and not just use it as an add on.

Good to see how you can relate the artefacts / plants / museums to the curriculum and how you can focus in on one element and make it a "wow" moment for the children's learning.

Great chance to learn outside of uni, gathered some great curriculum knowledge, general knowledge and experience on how out-of-school visits need to be planned and co-ordinated.

Very useful!  Provided a very thorough insight of what to consider when planning and executing field trips.  Very very good guide how to maximise / optimise learning as well as overcome barriers to learning.

Be proactive in thinking about how you would use the venues in your class, don't be directly only by the staff as there will be things that excite you and that's really important.  Sharing ideas of how to apply what we've learned to the classroom has been really useful.

I have gained a good understanding of how to use learning outside the classroom not only on trips but also in areas such as the school field and local community.  I think I would also be able to teach the practical activities such as screen printing and scavenger hunts and use them in my teaching to make it engaging for the children.  I also had never thought about the importance of independent roaming time on a trip and would definitely include that if I planned a trip.

A really important insight into how good these places are as resources, linking into the curriculum and simply just giving the children extra experiences in life and outside the classroom.