All eyes on the internet
However unenthusiastic a child might be about school, I bet none would turn down an offer like this," says Jessica Stokes, a teacher at Bannockburn primary school in Plumstead, south London. The apparently irresistible offer encompasses two of the most popular ways of learning: a fun day out and working on the computer. Both are the bread and butter of Kids Link London, a London Tourist Board initiative that twins primary schools and London visitor attractions with the aim of producing a "child's-eye" visitor guide on the LTB's website.
So far 70 schools are working in tandem with sites as diverse as city farms, HMS Belfast, the Tower of London and the Florence Nightingale Museum. Each enjoys a free visit to their designated attraction. For Jessica Stokes's Year 4 class, this meant the London Eye, where they were treated like royalty - by-passing queues and having access to the VIP lounge where an executive met them to answer their questions.
Visit completed, work begins in the classroom on contributions to the on-line guide. As the framework for the web page is already laid out on the tourist board's site, "technical" work amounts to little more than filling in the blanks.
Six primary school teachers helped draw up the classroom activities, with English featuring prominently in three princpal ways: under factual writing children are required to describe what the attraction has to offer; report writing is used as a means of describing their day out and what they thought of it; and by writing a poem about it they enter the realms of creative writing. Jessica Stokes helped compile the guidelines for report writing.
Pupils have eagerly embraced the project - even those whose enthusiasm is generally low. Miss Stokes found the scheme made parts of the curriculum more accessible. "The essential skills are there," she says, "The grammar, the spelling." The children took extra pride in their work because they knew it would be going on the internet. The project has also helped in teaching children of differing ability and offered teamwork opportunities.
Although Kids Link is only available to schools in the London area, the principle could be adopted elsewhere by liaising with a visitor attraction with a view to contributing to their website. The London Tourist Board suggests the following selling points and tips: it is great publicity; it would probably the first children's guide to the attraction; attractions' staff hear children saying exactly what they think; it could contribute to the attraction's educational package.
Kids Link London: www.londontown.comkidsFor a booklet about the scheme contact Rebecca Kane, tel: 020 7932 2000, or e-mail: email@example.com