Tag Archives: schools

Stamps in Schools success

Yesterday, in an award ceremony held at the British Museum, our volunteer Stamps in Schools co-ordinator Erene Grieve became joint national winner of the Marsh Christian Trust “Volunteers for Museum Learning” award, 2013.

Erene receives her award.

Erene receives her award.

Erene has been running the Stamps in Schools project for the past seven years. Stamps in Schools workshops introduce pupils to the history of stamps, and the idea of starting their own stamp collection. Erene provides ‘stamp days’ in Primary schools which have been run throughout the UK, from Inverness to the Isle of Wight.

Erene running a workshop at Sherwood School.

Erene running a workshop at Sherwood School.

Erene won the award for the London region in May. At yesterday’s ceremony Erene met the other regional winners before the national winner was announced. The judges found it impossible to decide an overall winner so Erene shares her national prize with Nathan Lightowler of the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland.

Joanna Mackle, Deputy Director of the British Museum said:

Museums large and small are reliant on the contribution volunteers make to ensure the smooth and successful running of their organisation. The Marsh Awards recognise the vital work that volunteers do in museums across the country.

Upon receiving the award, Erene said:

There’s something magic about hearing a child say “Thank you that was brill”, or even “That was cool”, or even “This has been the best day of my life!” You don’t walk out of the school thinking, “I wish I’d got paid for that”. You go out thinking, “This is wonderful”.

We’d like to congratulate Erene and say thank you for her ongoing commitment to volunteering with the BPMA.

Erene with BPMA Director Adrian Steel.

Erene with BPMA Director Adrian Steel.

Visit our website to find out more about Stamps in Schools.

A trainee teacher shares his experience of being on placement with us

Hello, I’m Tommy, a postgraduate student at London South Bank University where I’m training to be a primary school teacher.

As part of this course, I recently spent a week on placement at the British Postal Museum and Archive. I worked closely with Sally, the Schools Learning Officer to learn how the BPMA use their archive and resources to deliver engaging and stimulating school sessions.


Pupils select definitive stamps

One of the sessions I observed was “Stamp Champs” in a year 3 class at Claremont Primary School in Cricklewood, North London.

This was a fun session, where pupils were given the chance to dress up as postal workers from the past as they learnt about the history of the postal service.

The pupils also had the chance to investigate stamps from around the world by playing an interactive game using stamps from sixteen different countries.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the session was when the pupils were given the opportunity to begin their own stamp collection. Firstly, they learnt how to remove a used stamp that was attached to an envelope and they kept this as the first stamp in their collection.


Students soak definitive stamps to detach them from envelopes.

The pupils then chose another five stamps each from around the world that Sally had brought along for them.

The classroom was buzzing as each pupil rifled through the numerous stamps to find which ones they wanted for their collection. Each pupil had their own reason for the stamps they chose – be it that it was from the country of their birth, a commemorative stamp from an event they recognised or even just a striking design – there was no doubt that they had all been gripped by “stamp fever” and were proud of the birth of their stamp collection.


Pupils showcase their final selection of stamps.

As we left, the pupils thanked us and told us how much they enjoyed the session, with one boy saying that we were welcome to come back anytime!

“Stamp Champs” really was a fantastic session to observe and take part in, and I would have no hesitation in booking it for a class when I graduate later this year and begin teaching.

The school visits were a highlight of my time at BPMA, however, the opportunity to search the archives has also been fascinating. I was given an interesting, detailed tour of the archive and used my new found knowledge to develop ideas for a session about the role of the postal service during World War Two.

My time at BPMA has been thoroughly enjoyable and I have learnt a lot about  what the museum collection can offer for schools. Thank you to everyone at BPMA for having me!

We’re taking bookings for the summer term now. Find out how to book a free school workshop for your class.

Stamps in Schools – a free BPMA sponsored outreach service

Hello, I’m Sally, the new Schools Learning Officer. It’s my job to develop our formal learning programme for students of all ages. I’m currently trialing workshops for Primary schools in London. You can find out more about our plans, including how to book a free workshop for your school on our website.

Another part of my job is to support the BPMA sponsored Stamps in Schools outreach service. This is co-ordinated by retired teacher Erene Grieve, and provides free sessions to primary and secondary schools throughout the UK.


A small selection of Erene’s stamp collection.

I recently accompanied Erene on her latest Stamps in Schools visit to Sherwood Primary school in Mitcham, Surrey. I thought I’d share some of the great photos from the afternoon, and tell you about what schools can expect from a session.

Erene began by telling a story about the sack of stamps she saw advertised in the newspaper and sent away for at the age of nine. The sack cost a few shillings and was full of hundreds of stamps. She showed the original sack, and explained this purchase sparked her lifelong interest in stamp collecting.


Erene sharing her passion for stamps.

Erene used a colourful display of real stamps and other materials from our collection in an interactive presentation about the history of the postage stamp. This included an opportunity to see a Penny Black, a quiz to identify old and new commemorative and definitive stamps from all over the world and a competition to guess the most valuable stamps.


Here’s me getting stuck into the stamp activities.

Students completed cross-curricular tasks on Stamp Activity cards that tested their new found stamp knowledge. Then, they were given their own small ‘sack’ of stamps from around the world and arranged them symmetrically on squared paper, just like a real stamp collector!


A neatly arranged page of stamps.

Finally, the students chose some commemorative and definitive stamps to keep and start their own stamp collection.

Sherwood Primary school is lucky enough to have a growing Stamp Club. This visit, enthusiastically described by one student as ‘the best afternoon ever’ has no doubt increased the number of budding collectors.


One of Sherwood Primary school’s stamp collectors.

More about Stamps in Schools

  • Each session lasts for about one hour, and can be delivered to a class, or as a school assembly.
  • It has cross-curricular links to a wide range of subjects including Literacy, Numeracy, Geography, Art and Design, or Citizenship.
  • Sessions can be tailored to link to class topics such as ‘The Victorians’ and ‘Communications’.
  • All materials such as stamps, postcards and activity sheets are provided free of charge.
  • Example activities include: writing postcard messages, calculating weights and postal charges, and designing a stamp.
  • Erene is happy to provide follow up support to help schools start their own Stamp Club.

We’re currently taking bookings for Stamps in Schools book via our website.

Archivists and Academics

Last month I attended the Teaching History in Higher Education Conference at Senate House. As an archivist, rather than an academic, I was a little nervous. However I am pleased to say that I was made very welcome and came away with a range of ideas for activities that could be adapted to our future work plans at BPMA.

Alongside considering the logistics of moving our collections and the content of our new exhibition space, we are also planning the types of activities we will undertake in our New Centre, including our involvement with formal education.

A life long learning group visits our Museum Store.

A life long learning group visits our Museum Store.

We are already involved in a range of formal and informal learning activities, including collaborative PhDs and teacher placement schemes, but are keen to expand this offer in future. As such the conference provided an interesting insight into the key concerns of the higher education sector and inspiration for potential future activities.

The sessions on workplace learning were particularly relevant. The BPMA’s engagement in this area has been minimal to date, due to both limited staff resources and difficulty in designing activities which are mutually beneficial to both parties. However the presentations on this area gave an insight into the types of projects that could be undertaken and provided ideas for possible future development.

A group of student teachers tours the Royal Mail Archive.

A group of student teachers tours the Royal Mail Archive.

Allannah Tomkins’ paper on the use of creative writing was also useful. Creative writing is an area that the BPMA has explored in our work with school groups. The Post Office itself also has a strong literary tradition with former staff including Edward Capern (the Poet Postman), Flora Thompson (famous for Lark Rise to Candleford), and most notably Anthony Trollope. Therefore there is plenty of scope for exploring historical and literary links in more detail.

The conference provided some interesting ideas, and also some useful contacts. Over the coming months the BPMA will be considering if and how we can embed these ideas into our plans for the future. Watch our website for information on forthcoming activities.

Helen Dafter – Archivist

Silverstone Innovation Centre Design Challenge

by Alison Norris, London 2010 Exhibitions & Festival Officer 

Last Thursday was the final of the Silverstone Innovation Centre Design Challenge, and I travelled up to Silverstone to take part in the judging for the day.

The racing circuit at Silverstone

The racing circuit at Silverstone

The BPMA became involved in the Challenge as this was the first year of the Stamp It Challenge. Primary school children (Key stage 2) were asked to design a stamp on the theme of travel. The winners were Joseph Brownlow and Harry Chinnock from Cawthorne Primary. We chose their design for their innovative and creative take on the theme. You can see their design, and explanation, in the images below.

The winning design of the Stamp It challenge

The winning design of the Stamp It challenge

The winning designers' explanation of the design

The winning designers' explanation of the design

Alison Norris with Stamp It winners Joseph Brownlow and Harry Chinnock from Cawthorne Primary

Alison Norris with Stamp It winners Joseph Brownlow and Harry Chinnock from Cawthorne Primary

Here are some examples of designs by runners–up.

Other designs submitted by students

Other designs submitted by students

The overall purpose of the Challenge is to encourage students to expand on the skills they learn in school, and take them to the workforce.

While Stamp It was aimed at Key Stage 2 pupils, the other Challenges were aimed at older groups. Key Stage 3 and 4 students submitted proposals under themes such as ‘What Ya Call It’ where they were required to design a new object, ‘Engineering Excellence’ asked them to create a new tourist attraction, and ‘Promo Puzzle’ challenged students to come up with an innovative marketing campaign for the 60th anniversary of Drayton Manor Park.

Stands created by students from Key Stages 3 and 4

Stands created by students from Key Stages 3 and 4

Following the first pre-judging earlier in the year, selected students came to the Final last Thursday. They presented their reworked proposals to the judges in a Dragon’s Den style day! We Dragons then had to score each presentation, and overall winners were presented with their prizes in an awards ceremony at the end of the day.

The trophies

The trophies

The day was an exciting one to be involved in, and I was constantly surprised by the quality of projects and ideas that the students had come up with. Hopefully next year will be even better!

Find out more about the Silverstone Design Challenge on their website.

Stamp it! A stamp design competition for schools

British Motorcars, part of the British Technology stamp issue of 1966

British Motorcars, part of the British Technology stamp issue of 1966

The Silverstone Design Challenge is run every year at the Silverstone Innovation Centre, part of the famous Silverstone race circuit – the home of British motorsport. The Design Challenge is run in collaboration with Darren Giles of the National School TC College in Nottinghamshire, and is a national schools competition that focuses on the subject of Design Technology with a real world link.

This year they’ve added a new challenge for younger children – Stamp It! This challenge is for KS2 pupils working in teams of 1-4 to design a brand new stamp on the theme of journeys and travel.

A stamp depicting the original Bath mail coach of 1784, released 1984

An earlier way of making journeys: Keith Bassford's stamp depicting the original Bath mail coach of 1784, released in 1984

The deadline for registering entries was in January, so applicants are now busily working on their designs. The guidelines state that the images included on the design are up to the applicant, but they must remember to leave room for the Queen’s head.

Judges will be looking for how well the idea fits the theme; so the entrants don’t have to be a brilliant artist to become the winner.

A stamp depicting the first flight of Concorde, 1966

The ultimate way to fly? A stamp depicting the first flight of Concorde, 1966, designed by David Gentleman

The best 10 entries received by the prejudging date of 23rd April will get through to the finals day at Silverstone where the work will be displayed for the judges to see. The overall winner will have the opportunity to work on their design and produce some limited edition products with their design on them.

The BPMA will be providing a prize for Stamp It! winners, and will also be taking part in the judging on 13th July at Silverstone.

For more information about Stamp It! see the Silverstone Design Challenge website.

Posters from the Post Office Publicity Department

by Vanessa Bell, Archivist (Cataloguing)

I have recently started cataloguing some of the posters forming part of POST 110, a class in our archive which consists of printed material designed to publicise Post Office services. Although the posters cover the period from 1934 (when the Post Office Publicity Department was created) to the present day, I am focussing on the earliest ones, with a view to making a listing available via the online catalogue.

I am going to write a bit here about two of the main series of posters: those with publication number IRP (Internal Relations Panel) covering the period from 1950 to 1967, and those with publication number PRD (Public Relations Department), covering the period from 1934 to 1968. This gives a flavour of what we hold; in future blogs I will focus on particular gems of the collection.

The IRP series is formed of posters produced by the JPC (Post Office Joint Production Council) for internal usage. They were designed to promote staff efficiency by reminding them of established procedures and recommending attention to detail. Staff are variously encouraged to focus on productivity, to handle mail correctly, to be aware of the need for security, to work as part of a team and to provide good customer service.

These posters were also used to encourage staff to be thrifty, with messages such as: ‘Save usable lengths of string. Avoid waste!’, ‘Save lead seals. Recovered lead is worth £90 per ton!’ and ‘Do not mis-use mailbags. They cost money’.

Some of the earliest posters in the PRD series were offered free of charge to schools and other educational establishments. They consist of sets of four posters illustrating particular themes.

The first in the series was produced by Harold Sandys Williamson on the theme of Post Office transport; images include ‘Mails for the packet steamers at Falmouth, 1833’ and ‘Loading airmails for the Empire, Croydon 1934’.

Such was the success of this series that it was followed by several other sets of posters, by artists such as Duncan Grant, Eric Fraser and John Armstrong. One key set by John Vickery entitled Outposts of Empire draws to mind a bygone era, featuring scenes from Barbados, Central Australia, Ceylon and Southern Rhodesia.

Other posters in the PRD series formed part of major publicity campaigns including those encouraging people to post early in the day, post early for Christmas, address their letters clearly and, with the introduction of postal coding in the 1960s, to include postcodes when addressing mail.

The BPMA exhibition Designs on Delivery: GPO posters 1930-1960 will open at the London College of Communication on 7th October and run until 4th November. For more information please visit our website.