How the project began

The beginning

In 2006, the British Library invited Hull Museums Education and Harewood House to be partners in a new project, Campaign! Make an Impact. At that time, the project used collection material relating to the abolition of the slave trade to inspire Key Stage 3 students into participating actively in citizenship. Three schools, one in London and two in Yorkshire, were selected, each working with a Creative Practitioner/ artist.

The first stage of the project was to use the collection material to study the abolition of the slave trade. Students visited the museums involved and children in Yorkshire took part in a recreation of debates around slavery. The event took place in the Guildhall in Hull, and the Yorkshire based children all took part, with children in London watching online. The debate ended with all students participating in a 19th century style vote. It also featured on local television news. Students learned campaigning skills and worked on their own campaigns about issues that affect them today; it was vital that students chose something they cared about. Recycling, human rights, and the lack of out of school activities and sports facilities were all important issues to these young people. They planned and ran their own campaigns with input from Creative Practitioners, eventually producing a series of short films and a graphic novels.

The true success of the project, however, was the impact it had on children who participated, particularly those from more economically deprived backgrounds. The headmaster of Winifred Holtby School, Mr Liddle, described the results as “phenomenal”. Students aspirations and self esteem had increased; they wanted to change things they thought were unfair, and they now knew how to do it. On average, the students were now more likely to take GCSE history and to visit a museum.

Further development

The project had developed an innovative way of working, and further funding in 2007 gave the opportunity to refine and develop it further. A three partnership approach was maintained, this time inviting Hull Museums and the Thackray Medical Museum, with each school and museum partner focusing on a different campaign: suffragettes, public health, slavery and racism. Creative practitioners were recruited, and students produced campaigns on a range of subjects including knife crime, bullying, child abuse, litter, after school clubs, racism and social cohesion. 

Creating the Model

A further year’s funding enabled the ideas behind the project to be consolidated into an easy to use working model for both history and citizenship. Further pilots took place to test its use at Key Stage 2 and Extended Schools. A new pilot showed how a non campaigning subject, such as the Holocaust, could be used to look at human rights and citizenship issues, and so act as a platform from which develop campaigns.

The model is now available for any school, museum or archive to use and is being rolled out in a national programme 2009/11. The aim is to get museums, archives and schools to work together to inspire young people into modern day campaigning and so raise self esteem.

Young people’s campaigns can be viewed in the Creative Campaigns section.