Children discover Hackney in museum ‘takeover’

Anneka Hartley at the My Hackney Cardinal Pole exhibition at Hackney Museum Pic: Gregory Robinson

Artwork from pupils at a local school is on show at Hackney Museum in a programme to engage young people with the borough as they make the transition to secondary education.

Cardinal Pole school’s Hackney Museum Takeover is part of a project for Year Seven students. Claire Manning, a spokesperson for Cardinal Pole, said: “The idea is that students are used for project-based learning in primary school, and by undertaking a project which links across the wide range of subjects they study at secondary school their transition and ‘step up’ in education would be smoother.”

“This exciting event and collaboration aids students in developing skills and knowledge, and works towards Hackney Museum’s aim of incorporating the views of local residents, particularly young people.”

Some of Year 7 children work at the ‘My Hackney’ takover Pic: Cardinal Pole RC School

The project is in partnership with Hackney Museum, designed around the question ‘What is My Hackney?” to make it personal and engaging. This theme was made the focus of each subject studied by Year Sevens at Cardinal Pole, which is located in Homerton.

As part of their project, Year Sevens went on trips exploring the local area. These included a local church, the Olympic Park, Mare Street Market and the museum itself.

The launch event at Hackney Museum yesterday is the culmination of the My Hackney project.

A select number of Year Sevens used the skills they learned to become Museum Ambassadors. As Ambassadors, the students wrote captions for their chosen displays, took over the museum’s Twitter feed and gave personalised tours to visitors.

One of the children’s work Pic: Cardinal Pole RC School

Josie Stevens, 26, Hackney Museum’s School Officer, said: “In September, every Year Seven class at Cardinal Pole School visited Hackney Museum as part of their local history project, ‘What is my Hackney?’ Through various activities, the pupils were encouraged to think about the different ways that museums collect histories and share these with visitors.”

“The pupils were then invited to write their own captions for the object they found most interesting in the museum. A small selection of these are on display, for a limited time, to celebrate Kids in Museums’ Takeover Day.

“This project is my favourite kind of project working with our local communities is what being a local history museum is all about.”

“We have been working with young people that don’t feel like they are listened to by showing them that their voices are heard in the museum. They have all got a story to share.”

“It’s similar to the Mothers of Hackney exhibition, which is about mums in Hackney. The idea behind that exhibition was to give a voice to a group that are given a space in the museum.”

“It’s about ordinary, everyday Hackney people that make Hackney what it is.”

Stevens hopes the project will continue for many years to come.

Quotes from local children at the exhibition Pic: Gregory Robinson

Anneka Hartley, 36, lead practitioner for school literacy at Cardinal Pole, described the connection between the 70thanniversary of Windrush and the My Hackney Project. She said: “It was a happy coincidence.”

“We started doing a smaller version of the transition project last year. We mainly did it with English, Drama and History. The main thread running through all of those subjects was Windrush, which also ties our subjects together this year as well. We also looked at poetry and monologues related to Windrush.”

As part of their English lessons, Hartley showed the pupils extracts from the novel Small Island to connect stories of Hackney to Windrush. Its author, Andrea Levy, based the lead character on real-life former Hackney resident Eddie Noble, who came to Britain from Jamaica in 1943. Hartley said: “The kids are so drawn to Eddie Noble because he came from Jamaica, he was in the RAF during World War II and came over as part of the Windrush Generation. A version of his story is told in Small Island.”

The students then wrote stories from the perspective of someone emigrating to Hackney.

School children work for the exhibition-Cardinal Pole RC school

Hartley has worked at Cardinal Pole since 2009. She used to live in the borough, but could no longer afford its rising house prices. House prices have also had an effect on local children, which is one of the themes of the artwork in the My Hackney exhibition. She said: “Housing prices have shot up. The borough has changed because of gentrification, and that has obviously affected our pupils quite badly.”

“On the other hand, the pupils at our school are really ambitious, very passionate and full of things to say!”

Danielle, 12, a Year Seven pupil from Cardinal Pole, and her mother, who emigrated from Ghana over two decades ago, described ‘their’ Hackney: “There’s a lot of places to go.  There’s cinemas, swimming pools, there’s multiple things. You can never get bored in Hackney.”

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