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Project Title:The National Trust Education Programme - Phase II
Contact:Mary Salter
Address:Rowallane House
BT24 7LH
Telephone:01238 510721
Fax:01238 511242


The National Trust is fully committed to the use of its properties for educational activities and works with 37,000 pupils each year, one third of which are linked through the Community Relations Programme (the recently renamed Cross Community Contact Scheme). Such groups from both traditions across the province are introduced to their shared cultural heritage and involved in co-operative group work at the key sites where National trust Education Officers operate. Only two sites had classroom space for 60 children and Teacher Resource Books existed for only four sites. With demand increasing and expanding the Trust required:

a) an Education Officer at Mount Stewart
b) another six Teacher Resource Books
c) Three equipped Education Centres for:
......i) The Giant's Causeway
......ii) Florence Court, Co. Fermanagh
......iii) Castle Ward, Co. Down

a) Mount Stewart is the closest Trust mansion to Belfast and teachers and their pupils regularly visit it. Curriculum based programmes were required to meet the needs of KS1, KS2 pupils and those linked through the community contact scheme. The appointment of an Education Officer has led to:
* the development of three interactive programmes based on the Northern Ireland curriculum
* the training of a team of National Trust guides to work with the groups
* the development of costume and handling collections and co-operative group work appropriate to each age group
* the production of relevant work sheets for on-site work and follow-up activities back in class.
The numbers visiting the property have continued to increase and at the end of 1996, 97% of teachers rated their visit as very good (category 1).

b) Further resource books will be produced to allow teachers to prepare their pupils effectively for visits to the Giant's Causeway, Castle Coole, Strangford Lough, Mount Stewart, Ardress House and Patterson's Spade Mill in conjunction with Gray's Printing Press and Wellbrook Beetling Mill. Each will outline the site's relevance to the Northern Ireland Curriculum, the essential information required by teachers and numerous suggestions for pre-visit and follow up work suitable for single or linked classes.

c) Co-operative group work can only be effectively undertaken where a dedicated workspace is available for school groups. The two existing education centres have proved invaluable as they have allowed the Trust's Education Officers to undertake group work away from the mansions and their precious and often cluttered interiors, to extend the properties educational potential beyond history and art and design into environmental studies within the estates especially in the months when the mansion is closed to the public. They have contributed greatly to the Trust's work with linked groups and as a result a further three weeks were to be established where most needed. The first, based at the Giant's Causeway is nearing completion and will be a fully equipped field study centre. The two remaining will be completed by the end of 1999.

The Trust is greatly indebted to the European Community and the BT Community Programme for their support in allowing the Trust to reach out to all traditions and provide them with neutral territory where they can appreciate those places of historic interest or natural beauty that constitute their shared cultural heritage.

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