Kids take over Poole Museum

Since 2012, Poole Museum has staged an annual Takeover Day when youngsters take on a range of real day-to-day jobs. The event is not only a great way to engage with youngsters, but also for raising the museum’s profile within the local community.

Takeover Day (ToD) is a national initiative run by Kids in Museums, and they provide resources and support for running the events.

Here Rebecca Rossiter, Public Programming and Learning Manager, explains how they run the event, and what they’ve learned over the years.

“Takeover Day isn’t about a group of young people coming to do extraordinary things at the museum. It’s about offering an authentic experience…”

Six local young people, typically age 12–16, spend the day at the museum doing activities such as:

  • Front-of-house: running the reception desk, handling shop transactions, answering the phone, patrolling the museum.
  • History Centre: Dealing with enquiries, giving tours and object talks.
  • Marketing: Contributing on social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook Instagram).

“I learnt how to be more confident.”  Year 7 student

 

  • Engage with young people, but also build relationships that last beyond the event, for example, participants joining our youth groups or volunteering.
  • Raise awareness of the museum in the local community, amongst schools and with other museum partners and organisations.
  • As a partner in the Wessex Museums National Portfolio Organisation (NPO), it helps us fulfil the NPO aim to ‘Increase our engagement with formal learners, particularly Years 7 to 11’.

“It was really fun and exciting. Thank you!” Home-schooled student (12)

 

Before:

  • Coordination is led by the Learning Assistant.
  • We make contact with local secondary schools by emailing Heads of Year and History Coordinators. We follow up with phone calls. We also contact our local Youth Development Worker, past work experience students, and members of our Young Archaeologists’ Club.
  • We have a standard information and permission letter for schools which summarises what ToD is about and allows recruits to request a day off school.
  • We offer training sessions to the students in advance of the day – planned over several weeks (one whole day is too intense).
  • We use a young volunteer to provide additional support for the participants. He’s a great role model and mentor, and helps bridge the gap between staff and young people.
  • We brief staff and volunteers and provide them with a timetable.

During:

  • The participants work in pairs, taking turns to do shifts on the front desk, in the History Centre and on patrol.
  • They do social media updates, working with a marketing officer.
  • We have a pizza lunch with staff when they can ask questions about the jobs we do here. This is also important to give a bit of ‘down time’.
  • Eight schools have been involved.
  • Over 50 students have participated.
  • We’ve generated excellent social media engagement on the day.
  • We’ve had recognition and national publicity from Kids in Museums.
  • We’ve developed a model we can share with other museums.

“I really liked it and I’m grateful that you picked me, thank you.”  Year 7 student

Internal:

  • Capacity – museum staff are always really busy. So we now try to get everyone to commit to the day well in advance and block it out in their calendars. This is backed up by management support for the event.
  • Marketing resource is always a challenge especially promoting the event to young people beforehand. We’re trying to utilize other staff members and volunteers who can help.

External

  • Recruitment of young people is the biggest issue. This is partly because we’re competing with curriculum and exam pressure at schools.
  • The secret is to find key contacts in schools who can really see the benefits. In 2018, we were fortunate to have a very keen Head of Year teacher who invited us to run an assembly at school which generated a good response.

“We’ve generally been very lucky with the support we’ve received across all the museum teams. It’s a case of all hands on deck!” Rebecca Rossiter, Public Programming and Learning Manager

  • The museum is quiet in November so we use a ‘rent-a-crowd’ approach, using volunteers as the audience for the tour and talk activity.
  • In 2018, we worked with a younger age group and some of the tasks were challenging for them. With hindsight we’d have done more training, and adapted the tour as they struggled with speaking to a large group of adults.

“It was really fun and gave me a good work experience.” Year 7 student

 

  • Plan it well and communicate with staff to try and get commitment across the whole team.
  • Use the training days to get to know the group and tailor the programme accordingly. It’s also a chance for them to build confidence and get to know each other.
  • Keep it simple – it’s not about a group of young people coming to do extraordinary things at the museum. It’s an authentic experience and a real opportunity to engage with visitors in the museum and online.

Look at the Kids in Museums website where you can find advice, resources, case studies and templates.

Rebecca Rossiter, Public Programming and Learning Manager
Tel: 01202 262623
[email protected]

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