Young curators: (l-r) Michael Wade, Jack Smith, Harry Holmes, Ben Rogers, Jill Busby and Tracey Cater

Article by Nicola Taylor: A bust depicting the face of the head teacher is the centrepiece at a school's new in-house museum.

Michael Wade will be remembered for generations to come at Quilters Junior School in Laindon Road, Billericay.

His head is one of the attractions at the museum and sits alongside a roaring mammoth and the head of Medusa, modelled on a maths teacher.

History co-ordinator Tracey Cater has been working closely with Brentwood-based artist Jill Busby to make the museum as eye-catching and inviting as possible. Jill says she modelled her bust of Roman emperor Hadrian on the school's head teacher.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by"]It's damaged my self-confidence, I had no idea I had such a pointy chin," joked Mr Wade. Walking past it every day is a cause of distress but I hasten to add I was asked to be cast. This year we are looking at the philosophy of the school and I think a lot of young people are under pressure to think a certain way and dress a certain way. We want children to be aspirational but we don't want them to take themselves so seriously that they can't laugh at themselves. We have to practise what we preach so I agreed to have the bust done and they enjoy talking to Mr Wade the statue – maybe it talks more sense than the real one?[/quote]

The bust of Greek monster Medusa was modelled on maths teacher Carolyn Chapel.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mr Wade"]We were both cast on the same day and I went first, as there was a risk that my eyebrows would come off. Hopefully other teachers might have their casts done. I'm prepared to laugh at myself and I want the children to be able to self-deprecate and take part in things, it's all about that spirit of fun for the kids.[/quote]

Pupils have been encouraged to make exhibits at home and bring them to school so they can be displayed on the museum walls.

Among their contributions so far are Anglo-Saxon helmets, weaponry and Roman mosaics.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mrs Cater"]The new history curriculum, which was introduced last year, brings in a lot of new topics that we need to teach at primary level such as the Stone Age and Anglo Saxons. We needed resources to teach these and it also became apparent we needed to give the children a sense of chronology, as they often find it tricky to place events in order. We decided to have a timeline painted on the corridor walls but this grew to a fully-fledged museum with British history on one wall and the rest of the world on the other.[/quote]

Jill, a friend of one of the teachers, was brought in to help curate the museum and create the eye-catching exhibits. These include a massive woolly mammoth that roars when pupils enter the room and numerous toy snakes.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jill"]The sculptures have a distinctive Quilters feel and I have really enjoyed putting these pieces together. They have taken a lot of time but it's also a lot of fun.[/quote]

Jane has big plans for the rest of the museum, including a 3D dinosaur, Viking weaponry, a Big Ben made of decoupage newsprint and a Picasso-style Sopwith Camel plane for the First World War era.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Jane"]Phase one is now complete, covering the Stone Age, Celts and Anglo Saxons, and Romans. So now we need to move on to the Vikings right through to modern times, incorporating the key elements of the Key Stage 2 curriculum such as Victorians, the Second World War and the 1960s.[/quote]

Pupil Ben Rodgers, nine, has spent hours building a wooden Viking long-ship to be displayed in the next section of the museum.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Ben"]Having a bust of Hadrian that looks like Mr Wade made me laugh. I wanted to make the long ship and my mum helped with the sawing of the wood but I did all the rest.[/quote]

Harry Holmes, eight, made a mosaic for the Roman section.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Harry"]I went home and told my mum about the museum and she went out and bought all the materials for me. I enjoyed making it. The best part of the museum is the woolly mammoth. When you stare at it seems to stare right back at you so you feel scared like you would have done if you had lived in those times.[/quote]

Article by Nicola Taylor, Brentwood Gazette

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