BM Staff Talk: Learning Museum Programme

Jessica Juckes, International Training Programme Assistant

Last week, I attended a staff talk on the Learning Museum Programme. Learning Museum is a training programme for young people run by the Learning and National Partnerships Department at the British Museum, and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The programme offers an interesting model for working towards diversifying museum workforces, through innovative recruitment practices and partnerships.

The programme has worked with 18 partner museums across the UK between 2014 and 2017, training 18 young people aged 18 to 24.

Michael McBratney, Programme Manager, invited speakers to the talk including representatives from museums that ITPers have visited: programme assessor Michael Olden from the Royal Pavilion in Brighton, and trainees from the Pavilion and Time and Tide Museum.

Learning Museum 1

Learning Museum trainees

Aims of the programme:
-To nurture the next generation of the museum force, drawing in fresh perspectives
-To offer accredited training in skills shortage areas (Level 3 museum diploma)
-To form a proactive partnership of museums across the whole UK to share skills and learning from the programme

The programme operates around the following key areas:

Recruiting confidently and proactively for diversity
-Embracing diversity in all its forms – diversity means everybody
-Non-prescriptive – improving diversity will mean different actions in different regions
-Assessment of applicants based on competencies, not qualifications
-Assessment by group activities, taster days and individual interviews – applicants had spent up to 10 hours with assessors before the recruitment decision was taken

Care and support
-A strong focus on pastoral care
-Each trainee had five contact people in place to turn to, including supervisors, mentors, buddies and their assessor

-Proactive partnership across the UK, in every nation and region
-Partner museums involved their local museum networks as well
-Every month, all trainees travelled to a different partner museum for a day covering one of the key training subjects, including a tour delivered by the trainee at that museum

What the trainees said:
‘It opened my eyes to the jobs available in museums. Before, I thought it was just front of house and tour guides – I didn’t know about curators, conservation or any of that.’
‘It has changed my life and improved my confidence massively. I’m thinking about going to university now.’

What the partner museums said:
‘Our trainee organised a rap night at the museum for young people: none of our team could have planned and delivered that event’
‘Our trainee moving through diff departments made the departments communicate with each other more – she ended up introducing people to each other!’
‘It transformed the way we think about recruitment and we have a system in place now for taster days’
‘Our Visitor Services team is diverse but beyond that, no. It gave us an opportunity to reach out and recruit someone from the local community and think more about how we recruit.
‘It increased opportunities for cross-team working’

What the BM representative said:
‘There is a legacy for the British Museum in terms of ways we can partner with these museums in the future’
‘The structures of this training programme are directly transferable. We now have tried, tested and proven recruitment methods to use for the British Museum to diversify recruitment.’