HC Deb 19 July 2004 vol 424 cc48-9W
Ann Keen

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what discussions her Department has had with heritage organisations on their educational programmes and initiatives. [183435]

Estelle Morris

DCMS has been working on a range of different projects with various Heritage organisations in order to embed core policies at the heart of their activity to increase access and engagement, especially to children and young people, and to those who feel excluded from enjoying the historic environment.

English Heritage"s (EH"s) educational programmes and initiatives are included within its Funding Agreement with DCMS, which includes agreement to:

  • implement a new Education, Events and Outreach Strategy
  • increase the number of educational visits to EH sites from 478.5k to 508k per annum
  • increase the resources available to schools and to independent learners
  • assess the extent of informal learning currently achieved and inform future activity
  • initiate with others the national coordination of traditional building skills training

EH has set up a new outreach team to engage audiences who have traditionally felt excluded from visiting the historic environment. This will include working with the Civic Trust to develop Heritage Open Days.

In August 2003 DCMS/DIES set up a Joint Advisory Committee on Built Environment Education (JACBEE) to improve the profile and use of the built environment as a learning resource for all. JACBEE will be making its recommendations to Ministers later this summer.

The Department has also supported the Attingham Trust's project to assess the provision of learning opportunities in the historic environment sector. The report titled Opening Doors: Learning in the Historic Environment was published in June and surveys education and interpretation in historic buildings and sites today in the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

In partnership with DfES we have also been developing a new Museums and Galleries Strategy to unlock the full potential of museums and galleries to support education and learning. This process has involved discussion and consultation with the museums and galleries sector on the content and priorities for the strategy. The strategy is due to be published later this year.

On 25 March 2004 we hosted a World Heritage Site Education Conference at Kew Gardens to provide a forum for site managers and education officers at UK World Heritage Sites to share best practice and experiences. We are currently developing an action plan for an overall World Heritage Site Education programme.