The education strategy specifies what the museum wishes to achieve and what it intends to do – your aims and objectives:
• Aims – the museums long-term goals in key areas.Try to limit the number of aims to a maximum of six. Examples of aims might be:
• Make the museum more appealing and accessible to families.
• Attract more visitors from post-16 education.
• Increase income from educational programmes.
• Serve a greater number of secondary schools in the borough.
• Objectives – what you will do to achieve your aims. Each aim will probably have a number of objectives. For example, to achieve the aim ‘To make the museum more appealing and accessible to families’ a museum might have the following objectives:
• Appointing a new member of staff with responsibility for family programmes,
by September 2001.
• Carrying out research with families to find out what they think of the museum and how it could be improved, by March 2002.
• Establishing a family advisory panel, by August 2002.
• Introducing a family-oriented trail of interactive exhibits to the galleries (if confirmed by research), by September 2003.
Objectives should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Timed (ie with deadlines). Avoid being too ambitious – not meeting objectives is demoralising for everyone concerned. Remember that the policy is there to help you, not to make life difficult.
It is vital that the policy is used and that it shapes the education work of the museum.Without an action plan there is a danger that developing an education policy becomes little more than a paper exercise.
An action plan turns policy into practice. It shows in detail how each of your objectives will be achieved by identifying the tasks that need to be completed and the targets that need to be met. It specifies who will carry out the tasks, when they
should be completed by, and how much it will cost to carry them out. It is only by producing an action plan that you can be sure that your objectives are achievable.
It is likely that each objective will have a number of tasks that need to be completed in order for it to be achieved. For example, introducing a trail of interactive exhibits might require someone to carry out front-end evaluation, form a project team, produce a design brief, appoint designers, trial exhibits, plan the launch, carry out summative evaluation etc. Each task would need to be completed by a certain date and many would involve costs.
Performance indicators are essential because they show how well you are doing in meeting your aims and keep you on track.They should be linked to your aims and can be either quantitative or qualitative.
• Quantitative indicators are concerned with numbers and could include the number of people in educational groups, the number of events held, number of teachers’ packs produced, amount of money generated, number of teachers attending INSET sessions etc. For example, a quantitative performance indicator for the aim ‘To make the museum more appealing and accessible to families’ might be the number of people in family groups visiting the museum.
Qualitative indicators are concerned with quality and could include whether your services are meeting agreed standards (eg of customer care), level of visitor satisfaction, how target audiences view the museum etc. For example, a qualitative performance indicator for the aim ‘To make the museum more appealing and accessible to families’ might be to what extent families enjoy their visit, whether they would visit again, or how they rate the admission charge in terms of value for money.
Whether you are meeting the targets and keeping within the budgets in your action plan are also valuable performance indicators.