Chamber members collaborate to help children create their own history

Mightier than the sword

Next year the Royal Armouries is looking to launch ‘Mightier than the sword’, a project inspired by a rare manuscript in the museum’s collection. I.33 is a fourteenth century illustrated sword-fighting manual. Remarkably the illustrations feature a young female fighter named as Walpurgis, whose story is unknown. The project is to create this woman’s story with the assistance of schools and students from around Leeds.

Projects like this at the Royal Armouries encourage hands-on, experiential-based learning and creative storytelling can make a significant contribution to the emotional and literacy development of students,

Sometimes there isn’t the curriculum space in schools to engage rich cultural stories, this Chamber member partnership maximises all of the fantastic spaces in our city, creating opportunities for diverse children from across the city to work together.

Tristan Langlois said: “This project is about placing children at the centre of the Royal Armouries experience and encouraging them to engage with and be inspired by our collection. We encourage the kids to handle objects, to wear the clothes, to wield the weapons because we know that will make the stories – and their learning – come alive.”

The Royal Armouries is working with Story Makers Company to develop and deliver engaging learning sessions, where students are encouraged to create their narrative, become part of the story and explore creativity with other students.

Lisa Stephenson said: “We’re excited about being part of this project, Story Makers Company is a social enterprise at Leeds Beckett University that was formed by artists, educators, teachers and researchers from the School of Education. This opportunity allows us to share our research and practice skills. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with the Royal Armouries to develop a relevant literacy framework for children.”

Creative community

Research by Tom Dobson and Lisa Stephenson at Leeds Beckett with schools, shows that active storytelling through drama can support more invested writing opportunities and emotional literacy

This collaboration provides an opportunity for children to see things in different ways, develop tolerance and build community, which is a real benefit.

Lisa Stephenson said: “We know from NSPCC research that there’s a rise in children’s mental health issues and we know that many children from around the city don’t have access to arts experience. This project allows children to feel confident in their own imagination and in their ability to think in different ways. Children might be working on a fictional problem, but actually it is a real-life problem as well.

Tristan Langlois said: “A lot of work has been done over the last 10 years about emotional intelligence, creative writing, empathy and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. There’s evidence to suggest that a key factor of success within business is the social development of young people. We need to invest in young people now for better employees in future.”

Investing in the future

Cultural organisations are investing in young people and increasing links with universities, this ensures that a well-rounded group of young people enter the job market in the years ahead.

The collaboration between these Chamber members increases the educational opportunities for young people and connects them to the rich cultural heritage that makes Leeds and a more diverse and inclusive city.

Make your contribution

To discuss the programme further, as well as information on how you can become involved in supporting the programme, please email Zoe Bray, Corporate Partnerships Manager at the Royal Armouries on:

L-R Lisa Stephenson, Senior Lecturer at the Carnegie School of Education Leeds Beckett University and Director of Story Makers Company and Tristan Langlois, Head of Education and Events at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

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