Reading and writing are at the heart of our ability to communicate and make sense of the world. Lacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life. As a child they will struggle at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and as a parent they will struggle to support their own child’s learning.
Literacy attainment in Leeds school children is currently below the national average and as a national museum with our home in Leeds, we want to make a difference.
In partnership with Leeds Beckett University, the Royal Armouries is pioneering a new literacy programme, which combines the immersive and engaging learning environment the museum offers with our experience of storytelling and live performance to provide an unforgettable learning experience to deliver long-term benefit to Leeds school children…Our project aims to combine all three approaches to deliver long term benefit to children and young people in Leeds.
Our vision is that every child will be able to access our museum learning experience regardless of socio-economic background. This literacy programme would provide a learning experience teachers can build on, giving them more resources to draw from, enhancing their skills and allowing us collectively tackle literacy attainment in Leeds.
Inspired by one of the Royal Armouries’ greatest treasures, the I.33 manuscript, the Mightier than the Sword literacy project aims to support the development of primary school pupils’ literacy and oracy skills through unforgettable museum and classroom learning experiences, using innovative drama techniques, interactive storytelling and world-class artefacts to inspire writing, discussion and reflection. Central to the project are our storytellers and the I.33 manuscript – the manuscript is one of the oldest and most enigmatic treasures in the Royal Armouries archive. This beautifully illustrated manual of swordsmanship, is dated to about 1310 making it the oldest known European fighting manual anywhere in existence. It features a rare sight in a medieval fight manual: a woman named Walpurgis. The Storytellers will skillfully bring this magnificent manuscript to life and involve the students in telling the previously untold story of Walpurgis. Using spoken language, drama and creative writing skills, pupils will be inspired to create their own hidden stories.
We aim to work with approximately 720 young people over the duration of the project (an average of 60 per school) who will benefit from working with a Project Officer, Storyteller in Residence, freelance professional storytellers and museum workshop facilitators as well as the core Royal Armouries Education & Events team. Working with Leeds Beckett University, an in-depth evaluation report will be produced, to influence and enhance the provision of formal education throughout the wider heritage sector.
The project will impact on pupils’ attitudes towards writing, transforming it into something exciting which they are motivated to do. The workshop will touch on gender identity, patriarchy, bullying and mental health helping pupils improve their emotional literacy, reflected in their confidence, social engagement and interaction, and approach to creative writing.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
We know that the biggest barrier to schools accessing learning experiences outside of the classroom is financial; the cost of school trips puts a strain on schools and parents.
The Royal Armouries is a charity, and we need your support so that we can provide this free programme to disadvantaged children who are least likely to be able to access opportunities to learn outside the classroom.
We are looking for companies and business owners to partner with the Royal Armouries to help us deliver this vital project to help young children in your community. Your financial support will help us to cover the costs of storytellers, learning resources and travel bursaries to ensure that all schools can not only access the programme for free but do not have to find budget to travel to the museum. We would also like to offer groups of colleagues from our corporate partners a unique ‘hands-on’ volunteering experience, working closely with the children during the workshop and help our education team deliver the project. This could be encouraging children to debate about weapons, women and society, opening up conversations about gender inequality and the patriarchy, or helping children in and out of medieval armour, and demonstrating medieval fencing techniques. As a national brand, Royal Armouries can offer brand accreditation online, on/off site marketing collateral (print & AV), inclusion of partners in events, VIP openings, prize giving and acknowledgements and hosted events at the Royal Armouries to launch the partnerships.
If you would like to learn more about Mightier than the Sword and corporate partnership opportunities, please contact Rebecca Lowe, Corporate Partnerships Manager, for an informal chat. Looking forward to hearing from you!