THOUSANDS of Hartlepool pupils are set to benefit from a national programme aimed at exploring local history through museums and art galleries.
Hartlepool Borough Council is participating in the Making a Mark museums learning project over the next three years.
All five Tees Valley councils are involved in the programme which brings together local authorities and regional arts organisations.
The councils will work with the National Portrait Gallery on the three year programme of museum engagement, which explores local history and identity through different areas of the curriculum.
Making a Mark aims to use the stories of local heroes and individuals, under a number of themes designed to connect with the national curriculum and museum collections across the region.
Independent councillor Cath Hill, portfolio holder for children’s and community services, endorsed the project at a council meeting.
Hartlepool’s contribution to the programme will involve 24 primary and secondary schools in town.
Officers say they aim to engage with a total of 3,040 pupils and the aim is to generate at least 9,120 visits to Hartlepool Art Gallery and the Museum of Hartlepool between January 2013 and March 2015.
The visits and workshops will be free to schools as part of the project.
Hartlepool Council has secured £30,400 to help support the staffing and delivery of this project.
Meanwhile, an extra £12,000 is available directly to town schools to help cover transport and classroom cover which works out at around £500 per school.
John Mennear, the council’s assistant director (community services), said: “It will help us to develop our long-term goal for deepening art and history based learning at Hartlepool Art Gallery, as well as assisting with sustaining our high levels of school visits at the Museum of Hartlepool.”
He said the project’s focus on reaching out to pupils living in areas of social deprivation will both directly benefit young people, and assist in raising attainment levels within the authority.
It also means Hartlepool will be involved in a national partnership.
Mr Mennear added: “We are asking that you endorse the project which will start in earnest in the New Year.”
Coun Hill welcomed the benefits of the programme, but said she was disappointed the level of funding may not achieve “optimum benefits” for pupils.
Labour councillor Chris Simmons, who was also at the meeting, added: “The amount of money available is so pitifully small.”
He said schools would welcome the funding, but said the £500 would probably only be able to cover the costs of one visit.