Lancaster University students 'take over' school as part of Patterdale heritage project

27 June 2018 17:37
A group photograph of the pupils of Patterdale CofE Primary School with their teachers, and students and academics from Lancaster University Management School's Connected Communities Research lab
Pupils pictured with students and academics from the Connected Communities Research lab

Lancaster University students ‘took over’ Patterdale Primary School yesterday as part of a project to celebrate local heritage and raise pupils’ aspirations.

On Tuesday 26 June, all 33 pupils from Patterdale Church of England Primary School got involved in its first ‘sKoolathon’, a creative session designed to get school children working alongside university students to generate new ideas. The focus of the day was a potential heritage centre at Greenside Lead Mine which, once the UK’s largest producer of lead ore, closed its doors to the public in 1962. However, a research team from Lancaster University is looking at whether its doors could be opened up once more to offer a new sort of visitor attraction, to celebrate local heritage and boost the region’s economy.

The project looking at future possibilities for the mine is being led by local man, Tim Clarke, who has been mandated by Patterdale parish council. A formal feasibility study is being carried out by Lancaster University’s Connected Community Research Lab which will assess the need for an attraction, community support and the economic benefits it may bring.

As part of the project, local school children got stuck into a full day of activities all linked to the mine’s history - they painted stones from the mine retrieved from the local river, donned Victorian dress to put on mini plays depicting what mining life was like, and, using computer software, helped design a futuristic visitor centre. The results of their hard work will be put on display in local shops and hotels to raise awareness of the project - ahead of a final report being presented to Patterdale Parish Council at the end of summer 2018.

Professor Edward Truch from Lancaster University Management School oversaw the project. He said: “The project is in the early stages but after getting the support of the parish council and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response from a public meeting a few weeks ago, we are compiling a report to see what a new heritage attraction in Glenridding could look like. The report will weigh up different options that offer different sorts of experiences – from opening up a part of the mine, for example, to creating a replica section of a mine, to using new and emerging technology to provide a realistic mining experience from an altogether different location.

 “Working with the children of Patterdale School was absolutely fantastic and very worthwhile. They provided us with some great ideas and valuable suggestions which will definitely be considered. These young people are the next generation and important members of the community - growing up with digital technology means their expectations may be different to that of their parents and grandparents, so their insight is vital. We hope they also learned a lot about the history of their local community and a little more about Lancaster University– while having a lot of fun.”

The event took place as part of a 12 week full time project led by a group of six students who are studying for a Masters in E-Business and Innovation at Lancaster University Management School. As part of the course, the graduates put their academic knowledge into practice to demonstrate how digital technologies can shape innovation in business. This summer, the students are working as part of the Connected Communities Research Lab, focusing their efforts on the feasibility study for Patterdale parish council.  

The Head teacher of Patterdale CoE Primary School, Liz Stewart, said: “It is so important that children learn about their local history - the story behind Greenside Mines and its impact on the people and landscape should never be forgotten. The children have been inspired by the stories and history and were full of ideas. The day organised by the Lancaster University students was diverse - every child had plenty of opportunity to be involved and show their individual talents. Hopefully, some of their work may be included in a new tourist attraction to celebrate the people and work of Greenside Mine.” 

George Mande, one of the Lancaster University Management School students who organised the day, said: “I really enjoyed the day, not only because it was fun, but also because it provided a very dynamic and constant evolving experience. It was the first time I was working with children so I was a bit nervous in the beginning but the kids were incredible and very excited to do new activities. I would recommend to more schools to participate in similar activities and to engage in an innovative way to deliver educational content.”

Professor Juliana Sutano is co-director of the Connected Communities Research Lab at Lancaster University Management School. She said: “After winning the MSc. E-Business and Innovation's Hackathon earlier this year, six students, with support from our research lab, recreated the hackathon for the local school in Patterdale to engage the primary school students to find innovative ways to celebrate their heritage. The one-day SKoolaton was a great success! From the art of stone, to creating the tale of the miners, and presenting their digital visions for a smart heritage, the students became little planners to continue the local legacy.”

Tim Clarke said: “Our Greenside Mine day at Patterdale Primary School has been truly inspirational. I hope we can plug all the pupils' creativity and ideas into the future vision of a Greenside Mine Heritage centre in Glenridding.”

Michelle Castles is a renowned local sculptor whose children attend the school. She helped on the day and said: “It is so wonderful to see the children release their creativity. The stones and rocks they painted were a vision of what life may have looked like from the mine.”

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