Two education assistants, Mike Mount and Alison Mercer, making an Anderson Shelter as part of Life on the Homefront week

Colchester and Ipswich Museums

Melanie Hollis, 15.03.2012
At Colchester and Ipswich Museums service we pride ourself on our approach to maximising the skills of our gallery services colleagues.

We have 22 education assistants who, in addition to their daily cleaning and security duties, are trained to deliver our formal learning programme.

New recruits are appointed specifically with this element of work in mind and undertake a training programme designed to develop group management and questioning skills, ensuring a consistently high standard of delivery.

Since 2008 we have also used our education assistants to deliver part of the informal learning programme. Particularly in Ipswich this strategy has several advantages:

  • Using and developing the skills and knowledge needed to deliver schools sessions. For example, group management, audience inclusion and adapted delivery, communication and time-keeping;
  • The activities and events budget can be stretched further resulting in an increased number of activities throughout the financial year;
  • Deepened knowledge of and access to our collections for education assistants and visitors.

Education assistants have led craft activities, object handling sessions and gallery tours, have have supported freelance-led activities, dressed as costumed characters and delivered talks to our adult audiences.

Most colleagues have been able to transfer their training and skills to other elements of their work, and many are now more rounded members of the front-facing team that our visitors encounter when they pass through our doors.

Melanie Hollis is the learning officer at Colchester and Ipswich Museums


Colchester and Ipswich Museum service