Three children in red school jumpers stand in front of a brick wall, holding up a plaque that reads "Historic England: Heritage Schools Award".
Pupils from Spring Lane Primary School, Northampton with Heritage Schools Award, which they achieved through their participation in the folk song project. © Spring Lane Primary School
Pupils from Spring Lane Primary School, Northampton with Heritage Schools Award, which they achieved through their participation in the folk song project. © Spring Lane Primary School

New Historic England Report Shows Learning About Local Heritage at School Improves Local Pride

Historic England has published an impact report demonstrating the success of its Heritage Schools programme, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary. 

The new report highlights the benefits of embedding heritage into existing school subjects across the curriculum. These include increased engagement, local pride and a sense of place which shows a positive impact on wellbeing, especially when learning can take place outdoors.

In the last decade, the Department for Education-funded Heritage Schools programme has delivered heritage training to more than 2,500 teachers in almost 2,000 primary schools in Levelling Up areas, reaching almost 2 million children. Priority is given to schools in areas where social mobility is low. The programme focuses on providing free resources to embed local heritage into the curriculum, and working in partnership with local heritage services and cultural providers including museums, art galleries, archives, theatre groups and community-based heritage organisations to help facilitate the use of local services and resources.

The new Impact Study, carried out by BMG Research using data from yearly independent evaluation reports by Qa Research, found that:

  • 98% of teachers said that learning about local heritage improved pupils’ sense of place
  • 96% said learning about heritage increased pupils’ sense of pride in their local area
  • 98% of participating teachers said they had a greater understanding of the value of using local history in curriculum

An additional positive aspect of place-based education is that learning can happen both in the classroom and around the school’s local area, meaning that trips can take place on foot and school budget is not needed for additional transport costs.

Historic England welcomes the government’s upcoming Cultural Education Plan, due in summer 2023 which is expected to include a focus on heritage. Historic England has been hosting a series of roundtables with teachers and school leaders alongside heritage and cultural partners to highlight the success and share learnings from its work in schools.

Our schools’ programme shows the power of heritage in making a difference to the lives of children and their families. Whether you have lived in the same place for many years or are making a home and putting down roots in a new county, or even a new country, knowledge of the heritage around you fosters a sense of belonging. Heritage Schools is helping the government to deliver on its Levelling Up ambitions by focussing support for schools in areas which need it most and the programme provides incredibly good value for money. Historic England’s education team trains teachers who then go on to deliver the lessons year after year, supported by the free classroom resources we provide.
Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive Historic England
Learning about your area […] makes you feel a lot better about where you live, being proud of where you live because so many interesting things have happened here; you are more connected
Year 6 student Leicester
It is important that pupils are taught about their heritage and are given the opportunity to learn about local history and how it relates to national historical events. I was the Schools Minister when the Heritage Schools programme launched and it is encouraging to see that over two million children have benefitted from the initiative over the last decade. Local history is a key element of the curriculum and I remain committed to making sure that pupils have the opportunity to learn about their past which, as today’s report shows, can have a positive impact on their wellbeing and sense of pride in where they live.
Nick Gibb Minister of State for Schools

Learning about Local Heritage: A Study of the Impact of the Heritage School Programme 2022 is available to download here:

Download the impact study (.PDF)

Teachers can also access a range of free resources and materials on topics from the Stone Age to the Second World War – for key stage one through to key stage five.