A closer look at: South West Heritage Trust

The South West Heritage Trust is an independent charity committed to protecting and celebrating Somerset and Devon’s rich heritage.

As well as the widely-praised Museum of Somerset and the current redevelopment of the Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury, the Trust manages state-of-the-art facilities in Taunton and Exeter to care for the extraordinary archive collections of the two counties.

The Trust also provides essential advice about the historic environment and manages historic sites.

Offer for children and young people

Learning at the Museum of Somerset is very much an all inclusive experience, for all ages. 0-5 year olds can take part in ‘Toddler Explorers’ which include fun museum trails. 5-11 year olds can also take part in these museum trails, as well as special events, history days and special exhibitions. Older children can appreciate the museum talks as well as the other activities offered by the museum.

Offer for schools

A great many museum sessions are available for schools, including Saxon Somerset, Monmouth Rebellion, A Roman Way, Digging Deep in the Bronze Age and Stone Age Somerset. Sessions available in-school includes Toys and Games, Wartime Somerset, Fossils and Dinosaurs and Rocks and Fossils. School and museum sessions have a range of exciting hands-on activities, including object handling, using replicas and dressing up. Some museums sessions also involve re-enacting to tell important stories of the past.

Somerset schools are provided with an exciting and unique learning experience which will enhance and enrich classroom learning. Special sessions and activities are available depending on exhibitions and they also offer an annual Take One project for Somerset schools. The project enables children to explore one object from the museum collection. These take place in school but can include a visit to a heritage site. The project includes a teacher training event and an event to display children’s work at the Museum of Somerset.

For children aged 11 and older, a series of short talks and guided trails are available for schools on museum sites. Talks include Tales of Taunton Castle, The Romans in Somerset, Religion and Somerset, and Significant Victorians.

Schools can also borrow a wide range of real and replica objects to support creative learning in school. All available packs contain a selection of items, including genuine artifacts, models and interesting objects. Many packs also contain information for teachers, including relevant historical knowledge and ideas for teaching history. In addition to history packs the loans service offers a range of packs for geography, art, religious studies, science and many cross curricular themes such as ‘communication’.

Archive sessions are available in school and at the Somerset Heritage Centre. An archivist can visit schools to deliver a tailor-made session that supports your class topics. Previous topics have included World War One, transport, crime and punishment, and the Victorian era, as well as an introduction to archives.

Quality principles and impact measurement

The learning service is reflective and feedback forms are available for all activities. Those taking part in sessions or using resources are actively encouraged to provide feedback and are able to complete forms in their own time. Completed feedback forms are shared and acted upon regularly.

As well as qualitative information they also collect quantitative data. Information on the number of students and number of sessions for the different sites and departments of the South West Heritage Trust is collected.

Further development plans for CYP offer

The South West Heritage Trust is continously looking to improve its loans service, including the implementation of a new database system.

They also constantly assess the range of learning sessions on offer, improve them and introduce new sessions to meet needs, e.g. changes in the national curriculum.

They will be planning the learning requirements for the redeveloped Rural Life Museum during the course of 2016. They also plan to develop our reminiscence work with older learners.

The South West Heritage Trust is also an Arts Award Supporter.

Find out more about the Trust by visiting their website.