Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative
About the organisation
The Initiative was launched in 1990, under the auspices of the Institute of Welsh Affairs at the National Museum and Gallery Cardiff, and was subsequently registered as an independent Charitable Trust. From the beginning, its major sponsors were Sir Julian Hodge (Jane Hodge Foundation) and the Western Mail. They were joined later by other sponsors who provided generous grants and prizes for schools. In 2000, Alcatel sponsored the setting up of the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative's website, and HSBC, and Western Power became the other new major sponsors. Over recent years the Admiral Group Insurance Company has been the biggest sponsors of the initiative and remains so for 2014.
The Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative is run by a group of unpaid volunteers: these include history teachers, heads of schools, university professors, schools' inspectors, museum officers, archivists, television and radio programs producers and businessmen. Thus, they provide a wide range of expertise and representation of the Initiative
The aim of the Initiative is to encourage young people in primary and secondary schools in Wales to take greater interest in their heritage and the contribution made to it by their families and communities and to help and preserve their own heritage. We hope to advance the education of young people in Wales through the study of its history and culture.
The history competition
Each year, the Welsh Heritage Initiative Committee invites infant, primary, special and secondary schools, as well as further education colleges to undertake heritage projects and to submit them for the nation-wide heritage competition. These projects require research, collection of materials, analysis and evaluation. They may result in booklets, exhibitions, performances, restoration and other forms of contribution to heritage. Young peoples' work is assessed, taking also into account the appropriate level of literacy, numeracy, and information technology skills. Pupils are encouraged to involve their community and people of different generations in their projects and to disseminate their findings. All schools entering the competition are visited by judges and prizes are awarded for the best projects in each category: infant, primary, special and secondary schools. These prizes are presented by the sponsors who donated them at an Awards Ceremony.
The competition is open to young people aged from 4 to 18. All schools in Wales are invited to enter the National Competition. Entries have to be group projects. They may be undertaken by a class of children or even a whole school. The topic chosen and the nature of the project will have a bearing on how the students will present their findings. Competition entries from schools are accepted in English or in Welsh and in one or more of the following formats:
- Written material, e.g. an illustrated history booklet/pamphlet or newspaper, a tourist/history trail or historical map/poster;
- Recording e.g. film, video, audio tape;
- Exhibition e.g. a collection of artefacts or documentary evidence put on display;
- Model e.g. a three-dimensional object, scale model or craft product based on historical research;
- Information Technology e.g. the creation of databases/web sites or presentation.
Entries in different formats and on a wide range of topics are difficult to compare, judge and rank in an order of merit for the award of prizes. To achieve as much uniformity in assessment, judges are given detailed guidelines and mark sheets, agreed on by the committee beforehand. Each school that had submitted a project for the competition is visited by two judges. They have the opportunity to see the project and to discuss it with the students. Marks are awarded out of 100 under the following headings:
- Content Including especially local relevance and content Total: 10 marks
- Process: Including pupils’ chronological awareness (10 marks), their historical knowledge (10 marks), their understanding of interpretations and representations (10 marks) and their enquiry skills in the use of sources (10 marks) Total: 40 marks
- Evaluation and Presentation including pupils’ understanding of the project (20 marks) and the way they have organised and communicated this in the presentation of the project (20 marks) Total: 40 marks
- Impact: the way in which the project has been disseminated and the contribution it has made to heritage awareness Total: 10 marks
- Total [=100 marks]
The number and value of prizes varies slightly from year-to-year, depending on what the sponsors had donated. For some years, the top prizes have ranged from € 1,600 - 2,500. In all, some 40 to fifty prizes are awarded annually. They may be in cash or in kind, e.g. digital camera. All prizes are presented by sponsors to schools' representatives at an Awards Ceremony. Each year, it is held at a prestigious venue, in a different part of Wales.