Classroom resources sent to schools in Highlands and Islands

17 May 2012

Classroom resources sent to schools in Highlands and Islands

Students will help create the packs

Secondary schools across the Highlands and Islands are set to receive a resource pack focused on the region’s controversial role in the 18th and early 19th century slave trade.

Four Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) undergraduate Social Sciences students will help History lecturer, Dr S. Karly Kehoe, create the packs, with plans to deliver one to every school in the area. The project begins this month and will last one year.

The packs will feature historical source material such as letters home from Scottish slave owners in the West Indies, school register lists, government compensation records and estate paper records which reveal the region’s extensive links with the West Indian slave economy during the period. It is planned that the material will be used by senior school pupils studying the Atlantic Slave Trade in the new Curriculum for Excellence.

The packs are the second phase of the larger project ‘Looking Back to Move Forward: Slavery and the Highlands’, which Dr Kehoe began in her previous position as programme leader for History with the University of the Highlands and Islands. The historian, who specialises in religion and the Scottish and Irish diasporas, joined GCU’s History and Politics team in December 2011.

In the first phase of the project, Dr Kehoe linked up with community-based historians, archivists, local librarians and sixth-year pupils at Inverness Royal Academy to create an exhibition based on the school’s own archive materials.

The material uncovered was put on display at the Inverness Archive Centre and passed on to the team leading the ground-breaking ‘Legacies of British Slave-Ownership’ project at University College London.

Uniting trained historians, archivists, community researchers and school pupils in the Inverness area, the project’s community focus was recognised in March 2012 when it won the Edinburgh Beltane Challenge Award for Public Engagement.

Dr Kehoe is now using the £2000 prize to fund the second stage of the project and GCU undergraduates will support her in creating resource packs and disseminating the learning across the region’s schools.

Dr Kehoe said there is an increasing desire from funding bodies to see projects which can demonstrate a genuine connection with an audience outside academia.

She said: “It’s about universities mentoring communities and offering them something positive based on the expertise available. At their best, universities can, through public engagement activity, play an active role in supporting both the social and economic development of communities and the personal development of their youth.”

GCU sociology student Callum Alexander Macleod, who will help develop the packs, said: “I think school children in the Highlands will be surprised and enlightened when they discover exactly how much of their area’s history hinged upon such a bleak trade. I believe the school pupils will find it to be one of the most interesting parts of their curriculum. I certainly wish I had been taught it at school.”

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