Museum Volunteers: Inspiring the Next Generation | The Mary Rose
Museum Volunteers: Inspiring the Next Generation
Learning | 14 Jun, 2022 | The Learning Team
Meet Mike, a learning volunteer at the Mary Rose.

Earlier this month we celebrated Volunteers Week 2022, this month’s Education blog is written by Mike who has been a volunteer in the Learning Department at the Mary Rose for just over twelve years.

Mike Wiles

In fact I was recruited on my very first day at the old museum! I had recently retired from a career in primary teaching, and I was more than happy to continue working with children, even though I knew virtually nothing about the Tudor navy or Henry VIII’s famous ship at the time. As long as I could stay one step ahead of our young visitors, I was happy.

Twelve years on, I feel very privileged to have played a part in a wonderfully inclusive and innovative set up. I have been able to share experiences with a much wider variety of schools and age groups than was possible when I was a serving teacher. Everything from the most prestigious private schools to the most deprived urban schools, from wide eyed infants to knowing teenagers has come my way. Especially satisfying is the challenge of working with pupils with special needs. Whoever comes through our doors is equally valued and welcomed.

Education is at the heart of the mission of the Mary Rose Trust. This means education in the broadest sense. Informing, engaging and entertaining all of our visitors of any age or background is our business. To my mind, our most urgent task is to capture the imagination our youngest visitors because they are the future. When I say goodbye to a school group at the end of their visit, I invite them to come back one day with their own children and grandchildren. This is not tongue in cheek, I mean it!

How do we try to give each visiting group the best experience? It starts with the moment of their arrival at our door. Leading a school visit can be a stressful experience for school staff.

We always greet them outside the museum on arrival. We provide reassurance that we can be flexible and adapt our programme according to their needs, this is especially important if the group is late in arriving and has limited time on site.

Once inside, we offer a tried and trusted variety of workshops which we appraise and adapt over time. Also, we offer different levels of support as school parties tour the museum. We appreciate the evaluations which we invite group leaders to provide. At the end of each school visit we review their comments and hold an informal debrief of the day’s events. This helps to build trust and cohesion within the team and helps us to identify areas for development.

Although we have a relatively small team who deliver the structured educational programme, it is vital to recognise the role played by all staff and volunteers in engaging and welcoming our younger visitors. If we start with the mindset that everyone who comes through the door is a V.I.P., we cannot go far wrong.

We are always on the search for new people to join the team. If you are up for a challenge, and want to make a difference, come and talk to us. You will be valued and supported.

Learning at the Mary Rose

Find out more about our learning department, what we offer and useful information for planning a school visit!

Become a museum volunteer

Every day the Mary Rose museum receives hundreds of visitors. To make their visit as enjoyable as possible we need passionate people of all ages to share their knowledge of Tudor history and our collection, and you could be one of them!

Whether it’s helping with family workshops, delivering guided tour, assisting our education team with schools or answering questions for visitors, we have a wide range of roles available.