About: Best Practice: SWiB Learning Policy
PLYMOUTH BARBICAN TRUST SOUTH WEST IMAGE BANK: ARCHIVE
The overall function of SWiB is to identify, acquire, conserve and make available photographic archives that illustrate the unique history of the Region and to provide primary sources for accountability and historic research in Devon and Cornwall.
SWiB delivers its services via a public searchroom, a multi-media enquiry, research and copy service and through the provision of learning events and activities (encompassing outreach, education and lifelong learning).
Vision of Learning
SWiB’s vision of learning is to use its collections and facilities to inform, inspire and entertain visitors, staff and the community.
The purpose of this policy is to detail the principles underlying the education and outreach work (generically referred to hereafter as 'learning'), carried out by SWiB, and to explain the methodology used to deliver the service. SWiB views learning activities as absolutely integral to its other functions, that is, the care and management of the collections within its custody.
Access to archives by the widest possible audience is the key aim of the service and a pro-active education and outreach is a critical element in delivering this.
The key objectives are:
- Wider, more socially inclusive access to archives and archival resources, on-site, off-site and online
- An improved public understanding of the role and functions of the SWiB, its collections and the varied uses to which they can be put
- To encourage new gifts and deposits of material to grow and enhance the collections
- The provision of learning resources for students and to embed primary source based learning in the curriculum.
- Co-operation and collaboration with other heritage establishments and educational facilities to help achieve the above.
Definition of Learning
Learning is a process of active engagement with experience. It is what people do to make sense of the world. It may involve an increase in skills, knowledge or understanding, a deepening of values or the capacity to reflect and appreciate. Effective learning leads to change, development and a desire to learn more (DfEE, Campaign for Learning, 2000).
National, regional and local policies and plans
This document establishes the framework within which learning is facilitated at SWiB. Other policies and plans which underpin or provide context for this learning policy include:
- SWiB Policy for Access to Archives, 2009
- SWiB Service Charter, 2009
- SWiB Statement of Public Access Policy
Regional and national documents
- South West Museums Libraries and Archives Council ‘Strategy for Archives in the South West 2004-7’
- Museums Libraries and Archives Council ‘Archives Development Programme: Priorities 2005-6’
- Archives Task Force report ‘Listening to the Past, Speaking to the Future 2004’
Aim 1. Create a welcoming environment that inspires and supports learning by developing staff and facilities.
- Improve the physical environment at SWiB by identifying and removing obstacles to learning.
- Improve the virtual learning environment.
- Create a learning focused volunteer/training space.
- Provide a variety of ways for people to learn about and use SWiB, considering various learning styles.
- Provide opportunities for staff training; recognise and celebrate their achievement.
- Provide opportunities for staff to contribute to learning planning and development.
- Demonstrate SWiB as a learning organisation.
Aim 2. Develop learning opportunities and resources to educate, inform and inspire new and existing audiences.
- Implement a programme of learning events and activities based at SWiB.
- Take information and resources to a variety of locations and audiences throughout the region to inspire learning.
- Develop partnerships, events and resources for formal curriculum based learning.
- Develop a rolling programme of short-term volunteer projects, both at SWiB and in the community.
Aim 3. Raise awareness of and stimulate interest in archives and SWiB.
- Promote SWiB and its resources widely to the general public.
- Develop a marketing and audience development plan.
Aim 4. Develop partnerships to deliver enhanced learning opportunities.
- Continue to develop partnership learning projects with local, regional and national organisations.
- Develop new partnerships with identified audiences
- Contribute to the development of the Community Archives Network and to any existing local, regional or national learning networks.
- Develop the use of external contributors to the learning programme (FOTONOW).
Aim 5. Maximise access to SWiB collections and resources by developing opportunities and services to meet audience needs.
- Improve engagement and consultation with current users and non-users of SWiB.
- Develop the use of ILFA evaluation techniques, user profiles and other relevant statistics.
- Improve learning resources and opportunities that take account of people’s needs and interests.
- Reflect the diversity of the local community in SWiB learning resources, activities and events.
It is the role of all SWiB staff and volunteers to engage with the learning priorities of SWiB and to embed this strategic priority in all work undertaken whether it is customer service in the searchroom, answering remote enquiries or attending an outreach event.
SWiB employs a dedicated Archive Manager whose role it is to create and deliver learning resources and carry out education and outreach activities. The Archive Manager works in close conjunction with the learning team from other establishments, supplying resources and delivering joint events.
The Archive Manager’s outreach and learning responsibilities is supported by a dedicated budget but will seek, where appropriate external funding to support relevant areas of their work.
Learning through SWiB can take place in a variety of contexts:
- Visits by school groups to SWiB to engage in classroom based learning
- Group visits to SWiB to learn more about the office and its holdings
- Providing a welcoming and satisfying experience for volunteers
- Offering a venue to work experience school and university students
- Offering consultancy and on-site training to other projects and community based initiatives.
- Taught sessions at schools and colleges (some supported by Museums, Libraries and Archives Council’s (MLA) Strategic Commissioning funds)
- Talks on the record office and its role to community groups
- Attendance by SWiB staff at external events, for example, local history fairs, such as Local Studies Day and an annual archives forum
- The supply of SWiB held material for exhibition at other venues at the request of depositors
- The provision of resources for students and teachers to download (planned)
- Up to date catalogues with detailed information about all of SWiB’s holdings
- Full information about SWiB’s service provision and the uses of archives and records; the terms of access to archives and information for depositors
- Projects, particularly digitisation to increase the amount of content for users to access both on SWiB and on third party websites.
Various monitoring and evaluation methods will be used to measure the achievement of these aims and objectives including:
- Recognising and Recording Progress and Achievement (RARPA) (for non-accredited community, adult and family learning)
- National Council on Archives Public Services Quality Group (PSQG) visitor surveys
- SWiB user statistical data is maintained for all contacts made during the course of learning activities. Monitoring of learning events is routinely carried out. Pro forma evaluation sheets are issued to all participants at events and later collected for analysis. Informal evidence, oral and written is also collected to help enhance and develop the service
- Externally funded projects will be monitored via their own internal procedures and SWiB will accord with these in order to demonstrate compliance with the terms of any grant aid.
- SWiB has sought to use the Generic Learning Outcomes structure as developed through MLA’s Inspiring Learning for All methodology (a framework to record and acknowledge unaccredited learning)
SWiB also seeks to promote its service to the public through a variety of means:
- Posters and leaflets
- Outreach projects
- Media outlets, for example, local press, radio and television.
- Other websites
SWiB works with a number of bodies in order to deliver its learning priorities. Principal amongst these are:
- Friends of Devon’s Archives
- Plymouth and West Devon Record Office
- Plymouth Central Library
- Royal Cornwall Museum
- Chris Robinson
The office is always keen to investigate new partnership possibilities where learning outcome potential is high.
SD / 19/08/2009