Involving young people in heritage education – a case study
I have just returned from the 3rd International Conference on Heritage and Sustainable Development, known as Heritage 2012, which was held in Porto, Portugal.
Over 250 delegates attended, and Abi Hunt from University Centre Peterborough and I and two trainees had the pleasure of showcasing Peterborough.
Abi and I jointly wrote a paper entitled ‘Sustainable Development through Heritage and Education: The New Peterborough Effect’. This paper argued that engagement with heritage by educational establishments such as colleges and universities is an effective tool for transforming the lives of young people. We presented the paper together with Phil and Richard, two of the young people who had completed the course. It was important to make sure that their points of view and feedback on the project were heard, as their group was instrumental in helping to write the paper. The experience really boosted the students' confidence. Richard said afterwards that he was glad he didn’t ‘bottle it’ when it came to speaking and answering questions.
The case study, which our presentation focused on, was the ‘Care and Repair’ project, initiated in 2009 by a partnership of Opportunity Peterborough and Peterborough Regional College with funding by Big Lottery Awards for All. It has continued to be fully funded by Peterborough Regional College as part of their Rural Skills courses. Young people receive training in shortage traditional skills, such as dry stone walling, which contribute to the character of the Peterborough area. The students get out into the rural areas of Peterborough Unitary Authority to practice ‘dying arts’ as the students call them.
Since the initial programme, over eight cohorts of young people have taken part and benefited from this project. The programme has had an 80% retention rate. This retention rate refers to previously disengaged young people, continuining their edudcation and training by for instance going onto full time courses in construction and landscaping amongst other routes. Fingers crossed, Phil and Richard are soon to take the next step, proving themselves in the job market.