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Manx Heritage in Schools 28 May 2004

A landmark agreement has been signed between the Department of Education, and Manx National Heritage.

The new agreement provides for a system of formal co-operation between the two agencies of Government to ensure that all children in the Island’s schools have the best possible access to the various heritage resources as they study Manx culture, history and language as part of the new National Curriculum.

Signing the new agreement for the Department of Education were Minister for Education, Steve Rodan, M.H.K. and Director, John Cain, together with Martin Moore, Chairman of the Trustees of Manx National Heritage, and Stephen Harrison, Director of MNH.

Mr Rodan stated:

“We are pleased to show formally the good working relationship we have enjoyed with Manx National Heritage in recent years with regard to the promotion of Manx heritage in our schools. Our statutory duty to foster the teaching of Manx history, culture and language will be greatly enhanced by this partnership between our two departments and the formalization of teaching resources which we are able to provide between us.”

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two Isle of Man Government bodies formally adopts the aim of working together to achieve ‘a measurable improvement in the provision for and delivery of Manx heritage in the curriculum in terms of culture and history, including language where applicable, for Island educational institutions in line with the Education Act of 2001’.

Mr. Moore said:

"This is an important development for Manx National Heritage. We’re not just the conservers of the Island’s heritage, we exist to explain to all the young people here on the Island why the Isle of Man is different - its history, its culture and its political background. With the recent change in the National Curriculum, we are very pleased to build on the working links we already have and we are eager to help and support the Department of Education with this new initiative.”

Prior to the formal signing of the agreement, the Department of Education’s Adviser for the Manx curriculum, David Brown, and MNH’s Education Officer, Fiona McArdle, have been working with a group of the Department’s primary school teachers to produce a history curriculum incorporating significant changes to strengthen the teaching of Manx culture, history and language elements. This has already started for some children and will be introduced for all children in Key Stages 1 and 2 in September 2004. The group will then move on to look at the Geography curriculum and then other subject areas to achieve the same kind of enhancements.

The inclusion of this specifically Manx element in the curriculum will be absorbed across the various subject areas of the curriculum and be delivered through classes in literacy, numeracy and IT, as well as the more obvious subjects such as history and geography.

Resourcing this curriculum is one of the challenges facing all Manx educational organisations, and Manx National Heritage has for a number of years through its education section developed Manx teachers’ and pupils’ resources available to all through its web site, with heritage site activities and educational publications free to Manx schools. In the secondary schools too there have been developments in the provision of Manx based resources, helped by organisations such as the Manx Heritage Foundation.

Director of Education, John Cain said:

“There is a roll-out programme and most of the initial documentation is already in the schools and training is being provided for teachers. Next year will see phase two of the scheme’s implementation.”

Director of MNH, Stephen Harrison, commented:

"MNH has done much over recent years to preserve, protect and develop the heritage assets of the Island and, in turn, this has made a major contribution to the tourism infrastructure of the Island. However, our primary purpose has always been, and should continue to be, Educational. With the Department of Education’s new Curriculum initiatives, we now have a new focus to apply the wonderful heritage assets and resources which we hold in trust for the nation directly to the benefit of our young people, who, in years to come, will have to make their own decisions about what to value in Manx community life from our historic past.”

Expert advice on many newly researched areas of Manx history has been taken from the Centre for Manx Studies, through Manx National Heritage, and through the group set up by Quintin Gill. M.H.K., member for the Department of Education, to advise on cultural resources for teaching.

Concluding the signing ceremony at the International Business School, Minister Steve Rodan concluded:

"We are fortunate to have such a good working relationship with Manx National Heritage and I think this is perfect example of the benefits of working together in Government for the benefit of the community and the need for more co-ordinated Government. Together we have a great deal to offer our young people making the best use of the resources we have at our disposal.”

With the joint support of the Department of Education and Manx National Heritage to resource and promote teaching, the future is bright for increased knowledge of and pride in the Isle of Man’s culture, history and language for the young people in our schools today and for the future.

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