The Headteacher: Free museums policy was fantastic for our children

Gavin Chappell is the headteacher of The Market Weighton School
Gavin Chappell is the headteacher of The Market Weighton School

Whilst watching the recent seven way leadership debate I couldn’t help but think that the two hours could have been spiced up with an injection of reality TV.

In its most simple form this would have seen one politician voted off by the watching public every 20 minutes. A more ‘sophisticated’ version would see the politician with the lowest score at particular stages gunged with increasingly foul substances.

Who can perform best with a pile of dung, frogspawn, or pineapple cheesecake on their head is surely a good test for any wannabe PM?

As a school leader I am obviously keenly aware what influence politics can have upon our children’s education.

It is my and my governing body’s job to cut a clear path through all the various initiatives that come from central government in order to ensure that what we do is in the best interest of our students.

For me one of the most underrated policies of recent years was the 2001 decision to stop charging for entry to many of our leading museums.

The National History Museum, National Railway Museum, Royal Armouries and the National Coal Mining Museum are all good examples of visitor attractions that have benefitted from this policy.

Theoretically this gives all of us a chance to access our heritage and culture without the barrier of excessive entrance fees that would have excluded many families.

Indeed, annual visitor rates doubled over the following decade, with over two million more children visiting government sponsored museums.

Importantly visitors to these museums are also now made up of a more socially and ethnically diverse background than was the case at the turn of the century.

Proof perhaps that our reality soaked generation are more interested in our culture and heritage than we are ever given credit for.