About Making a Mark
Making a Mark was a partnership project between eight Tees Valley museums and the National Portrait Gallery. It was part of the Museums and Schools Programme 2012–16 funded by DfE. The funding was extended on an annual basis until March 2018. The programme enabled regional museums to develop educational opportunities for local schools by working closely with national museums. It aimed to increase the number of high-quality educational visits by schools in areas that had lower than average cultural engagement. This work was closely supported by the Arts Council and regional bridge organisations.
Each year mima worked with a local school, training all the staff in Arts Award and then co-planning a Making a Mark Arts Award Discover programme based on their exhibitions. In each year of the project over 200 students achieved their Arts Award Discover, with the aim that the school continues to run Arts Award in the future.
Making a Mark has worked with over 300 schools and delivered well over 50,000 visits across the partner museums. In the first three years, each class that took part visited for three sessions, enabling a deeper relationship to develop and for a greater impact on students’ work. Since April 2015, schools have been free to choose how many sessions students participate in, but Making a Mark continued to encourage the idea of at least two led sessions for schools using the programme. We feel that this extra time was important in enabling us to offer high quality, active and creative learning experiences.
Our evaluation has shown that almost all teachers who took part felt that the programme had made a real difference to students’ interest in their school subjects and raised their awareness of their local heritage. Encouragingly, strong feedback from teachers also indicated that Making a Mark had directly impacted on the quality of students’ work.
Our feedback from students was that Making a Mark visits made them feel happy, excited, interested and amazed. They enjoyed being active in their learning and loved learning so many new things.
Beyond its direct work with schools, Making a Mark also engaged families through school holiday passport programmes and events, provided a programme of teacher twilights and planning support sessions and enabled participating museums across the Tees Valley to borrow significant works relating to the project to create displays from the National Portrait Gallery collections. Making a Mark provided a set of online resources for any schools interested in using an identity-based approach to exploring local history. A toolkit was provided for teachers to enable them to create an exhibition in their own school. We called this approach Museum in your Classroom and teachers who tried it told us that it was a great way to motivate children to learn.