Thursday 2 November, 2017

Q&A: Hazel Basran, SEND Programme Manager, Museum of London

The Goldsmiths' Company has given a grant of £30,000 over three years to the Museum of London for the Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) Programme

What is the Museum of London’s SEND Programme?
The Museum of London SEND Programme offers students with a wide range of physical and learning needs the chance to explore our galleries and the city’s history. Students come to the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands from Special Schools and SEND Units all across London and beyond, and take part in workshops, creative activities, and object handling. Their experience is tailored to the particular needs of the students, to ensure they can get the most out of their visit, and have a truly memorable time at the museum. We also run outreach sessions for students for whom travel is more difficult, recreating something of the museum in their school.

Can you tell us about a particular story that made an impact?
For the last two years, with the help of the Goldsmiths’ Company, we have run six-week projects with several schools which begin with a visit to the museum and then each week we, and creative practitioners Artburst, help students tell a London story in a creative way – as plays or shadow puppet films. At the culmination of the project we held an awards ceremony so all the groups from different schools, and some friends and families, could come to the museum and see their films on the big screen in our lecture theatre. Each was awarded an ‘Oscar’, and seeing the pride the children took in their work was truly inspiring.

As one teacher said: “Thank you so much for this project and allowing us to be part of it, you really have made a difference to all of our children. One parent in particular who has not had very positive experiences with schools in the past was quite overcome by the whole event and could not stop talking about what an amazing experience it was.”

What do youngsters find most exciting/helpful about the SEND Programme?
Because every student is different, and can have very individual needs, everyone gets something different from their visit to the museum. When we ask them what they remember or enjoyed the most, their answers show the wide range of experiences our bespoke approach, and wide-ranging collections, can make possible. For example: “G enjoyed 'going back in time.'” “S enjoyed 'learning about the war.'” “R liked taking pictures of the boats for our animation.” “E liked the modern times building and development of London.”

How does the grant from the Goldsmiths’ Company help support the SEND Programme?
The long-term outreach projects supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company are particularly valuable because they combine visits to the museum and creative activities in school. Students can build up relationships with us and our Artburst partners, can become more confident, and can really engage with the subject of their project – London stories. According to a teacher “It takes time for our students to get used to new people or a new routine so having an extended project means that you can support students to move past this and achieve some learning in a new and safe environment.”

How do you see the Programme developing over the next few years?
Our programme is always in demand, and we hope to develop and expand it where possible. The outreach element of our programme will become increasingly important as we plan the move from our London Wall home, to a new museum at West Smithfield, so we hope to find new ways to bring the Museum of London to students over the next few years. We are also planning new workshops using our objects, and our paintings, prints and drawings collection, to inspire artistic responses in our students, enabling us to cater to yet more learning styles and abilities. We will always strive to create more opportunities for those with special educational needs and disabilities to discover and engage with this amazing city, and we look forward to working with the Goldsmiths’ Company in the future.  


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