The cultural history of the city is now at teachers’ fingertips

John Roles, Cluny MacPherson, Kate Fellows, Sallie Elliot and Sharon Watson at the the Leeds Curriculum launch. PIcture: Simon Dewshurst
John Roles, Cluny MacPherson, Kate Fellows, Sallie Elliot and Sharon Watson at the the Leeds Curriculum launch. PIcture: Simon Dewshurst
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Teachers and pupils from more than 30 schools across the city have helped tell the stories of everything from the prehistoric Armley hippo through to Victorian-era crime and punishment and the impact of the 2015 Leeds floods for a project that will help more children learn about our rich cultural history.

The Leeds Curriculum is a new resource for primary teachers featuring 50 stories that can be used to deliver exciting lessons in the classroom.

It has been developed by Leeds Museums and Galleries, together with the Local Cultural Education Partnership, and is online at

Lifelong learning manager at Leeds Museums and Galleries, Kate Fellows, said: “Other cities have created place-based curriculums before but never on this scale of collaboration. We are really leading the way forward. So much hard work has gone into developing and designing the Leeds Curriculum from everyone involved and I’m delighted that children across the city will now have access to a wealth of resources which will help them to discover more about their home.

“Place-based curriculums, like this one, are proven to raise attainment. Arts and culture are not an added extra; they are a fundamental way of delivering curriculum goals, helping with children’s health and wellbeing and helping to create well-rounded individuals. Research has shown that children who participate in the arts are three times more likely to get a degree and three times more likely to vote when they grow up.”

The Leeds Curriculum was launched at the Leeds City Museum on Friday, ahead of a meeting later this month in which Leeds City Council’s Executive Board will discuss a proposal from the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering Group to continue with the Leeds Culture Trust, which was set up as a shadow organisation during the bid for Leeds to become the European Capital of Culture. Children and young people were at the heart of the bid and continue to be a key focus as the city moves towards the delivery of its own year of culture in 2023.

Sharon Watson, chair of the Leeds 2023 Independent Steering said: “In the Bid Book for the Leeds 2023 bid we featured the theme of ‘Voice’. This focussed on activity relevant and beneficial to young people, a commitment which we plan to continue as the programme is developed for 2023.

“The Leeds Curriculum is a fantastic idea which will put arts, culture and pride in the city at the heart of our children’s education. They will get to grow up in city that offers them access to arts education as well as the greatest artists from across the globe mixing with our own home-grown talent, all ensuring they grow up with the confidence, skills, wellbeing and ambitions they deserve.”

Sallie Elliot, Head of Swillington Primary School added: “Every child and young person should have access to a high-quality arts and cultural education and all of the proven benefits it brings. As a headteacher, I think that the Leeds Curriculum is a fantastic idea and one which will benefit our pupils for years to come.”