Forget Hampton Court, visit local shops instead

Helen Ward

A new website has been launched with ideas on creating themed lessons inspired by buildings.

Engaging Places encourages pupils to look beyond castles and palaces and discover the potential in local shops and their own schools.

The site includes resources, case studies and a network of teachers and cultural organisations. It fits in with the move towards themed learning in key stage 3 - which is also proposed for primaries under the latest curriculum review.

Bill Dewberry, head of the faculty for inclusion at Chingford Foundation School in north-east London, said: "It's about rekindling something that has been lost in quite a lot of schools - getting out into the environment and seeing things.

"At the moment people are reticent to do school trips. We feel we are on a bit of a mission to bring trips back.

"In Year 7, pupils learn about place and location, they do shopping surveys and building surveys. This site can help teachers with ideas of places to go and what to do there. It is about doing more than the obvious."

Engaging Places, which is managed by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (Cabe) and English Heritage, is government funded. It was launched at the Bett education technology show in London's Olympia on Wednesday.

It is also linked to the Learning outside the Classroom manifesto, which aims to give all children the chance to learn outside - either in the school grounds, in the local area or on residential visits.

Matt Bell, director of campaigns and education for Cabe, said: "We are trying to break the myth that learning about buildings means going to Hampton Court.

"There is a lot of teaching potential in looking at your high street. The recession probably makes it even more topical, pupils can see the impact of it on their local area.

"We want to give young people the critical skills to understand and analyse the places where they live and learn.

"Learning outside the Classroom is talking about the potential of what to do. Engaging Places shows teachers how to do it."

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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