St John’s Eagles and Owls take over Reading Museum!

Date Created: 4th Dec 2017

Young people in front of a projector screen with a crowd of children holding up pictures

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The children from Eagles and Owls classes at St John’s Church of England School were practicing for their presentation as the guests arrived at Reading Museum on Takeover Day. There was an excited hush at the Mayor’s arrival, and the 60 or so Year 6 children sat remarkably still as one of their peers introduced the day’s session.

The presentation marked the end of a year-long project exploring the restoration of Reading Abbey. The children worked with museum staff (lead by Rebecca James, Learning Officer at Reading Museum and Town Hall), contributing their ideas about the conservation of the Abbey and its place within Reading’s past – and future.

They visited the Abbey in the summer term, returning to Reading Museum in September as reporters for the day. They found out about the Abbey’s restoration process, its history and architecture. Each guest at the presentation had their own personal information leaflet waiting for them, produced immaculately by the children. Knowing that they would be presenting on Takeover Day gave them permission to truly own their learning,

Stain-glass windows with Christian symbols and flag motifs with phrases 'Together we are stronger' and 'Do the right thing'

We were treated to a selection of on-screen News Night style interviews, to bring the rich history of Reading Abbey to life. Jeremy Paxman was replaced by King Henry 1, talking about how he built the Abbey in memory of his deceased son, or William the Mason, who fell from the scaffolding in 1137! Jane Austen showed up too – talking with fondness about her schooldays at the Abbey.

The children’s artwork was on display in the gallery. The sun shining through the windows of the exhibition spaces made the most of the pupils’ larger than life stained glass window designs showing their ideas relating to modern British values.

To round the presentation off, the Mayor, Councillor Rose Williams, handed out certificates to all children involved, whilst praising them for “making their own pieces of history” that morning. As she said, the children’s work with the Museum was about heritage being passed on to the next generation. The children will continue to take an active role in the restoration of the Abbey before it’s officially re-opened next summer, when I’m sure they’ll be taking over again!

Words: Julie Green, School Liaison Manager (for Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes)






Museums South East Bridge

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