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The CBA's Community Archaeology Resource
Effective Practice – Things to Avoid

Maximising the potential of school participation in community archaeology has been a major concern of mine. Consequently, I would wish to highlight a number of factors that might typically work against the maximisation of opportunity.

1) Avoid having children (and teachers) arriving on site without knowing what to expect. Sites of archaeological excavation may be very unfamiliar places to many visitors. Knowledge of archaeology and associated fieldwork practices are not widely understood. Visitors should arrive on site with some knowledge relating to what they will see and what they will be doing in order to make their visit meaningful, safe and enjoyable.
2) Avoid site visits being used as a stand alone, end of term activity. Such visits will be almost inevitable if schools are not given adequate information or planning time in respect of site visits. Moreover, the educational value of such visits may be hard to discern.

3) Avoid having school leavers as the target age group. (This may be a likely occurrence if the project is taking place towards the end of the Summer Term). There are important reasons for this. Firstly, it is difficult to situate the site visit within the wider curriculum if follow-up work associated with the visit is not possible after the visit. A real-life learning experience might be used in the early part of a local history or citizenship study unit as a means to arouse excitement and interest that can then carry through a more extensive programme of study. Secondly, the last few weeks of a child’s time in a school are often a particularly emotional time. The move from primary to secondary school can be especially so. Behaviourally, some children will not be at their best at this time and some may not be as receptive to learning. To place a potentially significant learning experience at this time may not be appropriate. Moreover, it is not unknown for schools to look for activities to ‘occupy’ pupils close to their leaving date. Such use of a community archaeology project detracts from its potential as a valued learning experience.

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