Open accessibilty tools

Cleveland Ironstone Mining

Exhibition title: Cleveland Ironstone Mining Exhibition

School: Priory Woods School and Arts College, Years 7-11

Topic/theme: Mighty metals: a cross curricular topic across developmental stages

Curriculum areas covered: All of them!

What we did to find out about our topic and create our exhibition: We organised an introductory assembly to think about places in our local area. We explained where we would be going and some of the things we would be learning on visits and back in school. All of our Upper School students with severe learning difficulties visited Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum, over the course of three full days. Each teaching group then followed up the visits with activities relevant to their needs, including other out-of-school visits. The learning that took place over the following weeks was all reflected in our exhibition.

Our exhibition included:

  • 100s of photographs of us researching our exhibition, playing in a silent loop on a large screen
  • A second screen showed three short videos, the first was of places in our local area with a soundtrack of metal instrument compositions played by two students. The second was students signing to, and reciting a story of a mine worker. Lastly, a photostory of students with complex needs exploring mining related objects, sounds and textures with an accompanying song about the local area
  • Photographs of students dressed as miners, with speech bubbles containing facts they had learnt from the visit to the museum
  • Photographs of visits to the York Railway Museum (iron mined in Cleveland was used to make railways all over the world), the Transporter Bridge (also made from local steel) and a large display of photographs of students with profound and multiple learning difficulties enjoying sensory experiences that recreated being in a dark, cold mine
  • A display of artefacts from the museum, with brief descriptions of each one, using symbols to aid understanding/reading
  • A display book showing students experiencing live Face Timing someone crossing over the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia. The iconic bridge was mined and made in Middlesbrough.
  • Childrens work included:

  • Models, including a very large model of the Transporter Bridge and papier mache miners’ helmets, as the original helmets were actually made of papier mache!
  • Food: students made a big ‘train cake’ in cookery lessons and baked bread for visitors to taste with a label saying that miners’ families made lots of bread as it was cheap
  • Poems about ‘My Middlesbrough’, displayed with a student-produced map of the area>
  • Written information to accompany photos
  • Drawings and paintings with accompanying descriptions
  • An especially fabulous set of tracings and paintings of the horses used in mines
  • We added interactives like:

  • A photograph matching game
  • Jigsaws of things made from iron and steel
  • Artefact matching pairs – matching photographs and descriptions
  • A large railway floor map, made by students, used by visitors to play with trains
  • Candle outlines where visitors could leave feedback about the exhibition
  • Image courtesy of Priary Woods School and Arts College

    How our students benefited from taking this approach: They absolutely loved it! They loved working together for a common goal and the responsibility of working in the exhibition with their ‘Museum Staff’ lanyards and flat caps on! They took a lot of pride in their work and enjoyed seeing what other students had done in their teaching groups. They learned information and retained lots of it. But more importantly for our students, the whole experience helped staff to focus learning on their core communication, independence, physical and thinking targets.

    How I used the toolkit: The toolkit was good for images that I used during our introductory assembly and for some initial ideas about what sort of things to include in the exhibition. It was also useful for starting points for class-based activities and I learned a lot about our area that I could share with the students.

    Top tips for other teachers:

    “It’s a lot of work but incredibly satisfying and rewarding”
    It took me well out of my comfort zone, but I am so very glad it did. It increased all of our knowledge of, and pride in, our local area.

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