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Wednesday, January 6, 1999 Published at 10:32 GMT


Drive to make museums 'pupil friendly'

Museums will be encouraged to lend exhibits to schools

There is to be a £2.5m government initiative to encourage schools to develop closer links with museums and art galleries.

Some of the money will be spent on making museums and galleries more "pupil friendly" by the introduction of new attractions - with particular emphasis on "interactive" displays.

[ image: Charles Clarke:
Charles Clarke: "Education is a prime function of museums and galleries"
Grants will also be available for projects which involve schools borrowing works of art and other exhibits.

The £2.5m will be made available over the next three years.

The move was announced by the Schools Minister, Charles Clarke.

"Good museums and galleries provide an invaluable resource for schools," he said. "They can inspire children and bring the curriculum to life, developing new ways of thinking and learning.

"The new programme aims to exploit to the full the potential of as many museums and galleries as possible across the country."

Priority will be given to projects in these areas:

  • literacy, numeracy and science;
  • improvement of museums' learning facilities, to assist learning by children, and family learning;
  • developing museums' and galleries' work within schools, through loan services or other means;
  • using information technology to develop museum-school links;
  • the education of children with special needs;
  • employability and preparing young people for adult life;
  • training and development to enable museum and gallery staff and teachers to build more effective links.
Bids for projects, which will last up to two years, have to be submitted by April 1999.

Mr Clarke said: "Education is a prime function of museums and galleries and central to a great deal of their activity. It is the reason why many of them were established in the first place.

"This new programme will give them the opportunity to develop still further their role in supporting learning at school and in families."

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