Your Collection: V&A East in Schools is a V&A East community engagement programme initiated by our director, Gus Casely-Hayford. As part of our ambition to open pathways into the creative industries and revolutionise access to our collection, we will be bringing objects from the collection, your collection, out to schools in east London in new and unprecedented ways.
“Objects are glorious. I have spent my life dedicated to promoting and protecting them, but they are always made richer when animated by people’s love and passion. That is the driver of our V&A East schools programme, to take small numbers of truly special objects out to the schools of east London.”Gus Casely-Hayford
East London is one of the most vibrant and creative areas of the UK, if not the world. Our surrounding boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Newham and Waltham Forest are economically, culturally and socially diverse. Around 45,000 of 1.2 million residents work in the areas’ thriving creative industries, however the boroughs’ diversity is not reflected in the workforce. As the fastest growing sector of the UK’s economy, the creative industries offer myriad job opportunities.
Making and creativity are also valuable tools for personal and collective agency; from voicing and influencing opinions through creativity to addressing the major issues of our time through design. We are working with our communities to address inequity and create change by holding space to engage with objects, creative practice and making. We want to activate the collection as a sourcebook that sparks change, innovation, and creativity for the future.
Creating the Your Collection programme
Programme development for Your Collection began in January with a teacher advisory workshop. We spent an inspiring and productive evening discussing everything from the V&A East project, the urban regeneration of east London, school curricula and teaching in the aftermath of Covid to future careers and representation in the creative and cultural sector.
Together we identified the cornerstones for this project:
Powerful collection stories
“[Include a] Controversial object, [the] equivalent of like a Benin bronze or something like that. Having that conversation with them [students] like should we even have this? Inviting them to criticise you as an institution would be great. I think they would love having their voices heard like that.” Cassie Cramer, School 21, Newham
Legacy and ownership
“What’s really important is that they [students] feel they’re going to have a relationship with the institution, rather than somebody pitching in and out.” Leah Gilliatt, English Teacher, School 21, Newham
Career inspiration and creative opportunity
“They [school children] want to hear it from someone who’s actually out there and doing that already. I think it just gives them this kind of optimism and excitement that actually it feels real life. [We] need to prove to the students, but also their parents as well that there are jobs out there and this industry is constantly growing.” Ryan Mile, Curriculum Lead Art & Design, Big Creative Education, Walthamstow
Representation and pride in east London
“[Make a] connection between east London and the rest of the world because a lot of our students have been born outside the UK […] it gets them so excited when you show them that we value the history and the creativity of places where they have family connections.” Rebecca Pepper, History Teacher, Bow School, Tower Hamlets
Following the workshop, the V&A East team identified, researched and selected objects that resonated with teachers’ advice and guidance and that are being considered for display at V&A East. To begin with, we chose three pendants that each have unique and complex stories from around the world and from different moments in history. This is the first time in the V&A’s history that these objects will be taken into schools and colleges.
In June, we delivered our first workshop in Bow School. History teacher, Rebecca Pepper, reflects:
“One of our attendees said, ‘The best part was seeing things that are going to go into a real museum, and no-one else will see it the way we saw it today.’ Our students have been really positive about it. They were completely blown away by the West African gold. Thank you for bringing that, a real treasure! Having the career links was also really important for us as it is a big focus in our school.”Rebecca Pepper
How to get involved
Your Collection, V&A East in Schools is part of our wider learning and community engagement programme that takes us up to the opening of V&A East and beyond. We are developing and delivering our school and young peoples’ programmes in collaboration with our networks of community and creative partners including our teacher advisors, V&A East Youth Collective and creative sector networks. We hope to engage with as many schools as possible in the next few years, focusing on those within the four Olympic boroughs: Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Waltham Forest.
Your Collection talks and workshops
Our outreach sessions resonate across Art and Design, Design and Technology, History, and humanities curricula and sessions have been developed to support Gatsby benchmarks for careers education. We offer the following activities for delivery at your school or college:
- Assembly talk, unravelling stories behind the collection objects (20 minutes, up to 500 students)
- Classroom session, experience and discuss the objects up close (50 minutes, 30 students
- Follow-on workshop, Behind the Scenes at the Museum; hidden careers, skills, and work at the museum (1 hour, 30 students)
On Thursday 8 December 2022 from 5 – 7pm we are hosting a special teachers’ event at the Good Growth Hub on the Olympic Park. Join us for refreshments and a private viewing of the objects with V&A East Director Gus Casely-Hayford with opportunity to network and hear more about our engagement projects and V&A East.
How to book
We would love to visit your school so please get in touch to book a session, a place at the teachers’ event, or hear more about our community engagement work and collaboration: firstname.lastname@example.org