As part of Leeds City Council’s ongoing PACE project, a group of teachers and headteachers from Middleton and Valley View primary schools travelled to Malmö in Sweden earlier this month together with experts in cultural education from libraries, museums and Artforms. The visit was made possible thanks to a grant from the European Commission’s ERASMUS+ funding stream.
The visit included time in schools, as well as visits to libraries, art galleries, a dedicated children’s theatre and cultural organisations which all run activities for children in or out of school time.
The major difference we noticed was the city of Malmö’s huge investment in libraries, including the main city library, district libraries and school libraries which all have fully qualified librarians working alongside teachers to promote literacy, community cohesion and participation in civic life.
The new city library has been built with children and young people in mind, with the architects consulting young people on the best use of space and facilities. There are dedicated areas for babies and toddlers, as well as for older children and teenagers, creating a space which is the envy of any children’s librarian.
We also had the opportunity to see how the Malmö Konsthall art gallery works with young children to introduce them to their exhibitions and get them excited about art.
The next step is to work on new cultural projects involving teachers and classes in Leeds schools with the organisations we met in Malmö. A big thank you goes to our wonderful Swedish hosts.