SUMMARY OF REVIEW BY HILARY McGOWAN
"I could still do my job without GEM but I would be less informed
(and rather lonely!) It gives me a sense of being
part of a professional body of people."
"GEM has not gone to sleep, those around it have just woken up"
GEM has been in existence for over fifty years. It has come to a cross roads in its life and this report sets out a map for its future. Much of this report criticises GEM and points out inadequacies and poor performance. However, this should all be read in a positive light as the overall conclusion is that GEM has an important job to do in museum and heritage learning. But it is not a short term one. If GEM is to succeed and grow in effectiveness, it must set its sights on the medium term. There is no quick fix. It will not be easy.
- advocacy on a UK scale and regionally/nationally too;
- intermediate and advanced CPD events;
- events aimed at both education and non-education specialists;
The recommendations throughout the report are based on the findings of the market research, my own assessment and stakeholder interviews. The opinions of the members coincided remarkably with those of the stakeholders whom I interviewed and with my own assessments. GEM has a loyal and appreciative membership that feels it is good value for money, is important and helps them to do their job better. The membership values GEM particularly because it offers them networking possibilities.
2. Future Priorities
The main conclusion is that GEM needs to launch a charm offensive on the museums sector, re-establish its profile and establish a more professional, up-to-date image amongst the opinion formers and leaders of the sector. It needs to be accepted as an essential part of any discussion or project that involves learning. Every opportunity must be taken to apply for projects that will help to re-build GEM’s image, and increase its capacity and profile. Building on the success of projects, such as Grass Roots and working with Hubs, will slowly re-create the image of GEM.
Capacity building is GEM’s most urgent priority alongside re-launching itself by creating a professional, up-to-date, relevant image. GEM needs to develop its effectiveness in advocacy and its capacity to do so, is clear from the members’ views and from my interviews and discussions, but it needs professional credibility in order to do this.
Funding will remain a high priority for GEM in the immediate future. GEM must use its regional contacts to identify local sources of money; for less experienced education officers, this would be a good learning experience for them too.
3. Summary of Recommendations
3.1 Future Priorities
How should GEM be expanding? (members’ views in order of priority)
- strengthen GEM’s regional presence where it is weaker;
- work with the Hub learning managers on their education and workforce development initiatives, through the regional convenors;
- closer relationship with Engage;
- AIM is only one example of where working with another organisation could benefit GEM in both learning through project work and building up the resources of the organisation;
- GEM ought to be an exemplar learning organisation so that nothing is lost over the next five crucial years as GEM builds its capacity and grows;
- develop expertise in the learning audience development areas – older children, adults and older learners – and disseminate best practice and guidance to both members and non-members: not just through News and JEM but via the website, articles in other museum publications and in conference papers (not just at GEM conferences).
capacity building is GEM’s most urgent priority;
re-launch GEM by creating a professional, up-to-date, relevant image;
learn both credibility and funding from successfully running projects to build up financial resources and increase capacity and knowledge;
create a detailed plan to re-launch GEM, including acquiring journalistic writing skills; make contact with relevant editors/arts correspondents; aim for at least one official GEM session at every MA conference and a piece about GEM/GEM-related work in MJ at least three times a year;
launch this review’s findings in a way which will demonstrate the "new GEM’s" new, professional approach.
3.2 Member services
investigate how both News and JEM can be improved and in particular, how the overall design of News can be enlivened;
use the website more for downloadable documents for members.
issue the dates as far ahead as possible;
retain a members’ slot for presentations of case studies;
part of the conference should cater for those who are more senior/experienced, without ignoring the less experienced;
the conference should stimulate thinking and trumpet best practice, and have a more lateral approach, in conjunction with the more traditional, best practice, case study approach of most sessions.
the regional network must be re-invigorated to complement the new image to be projected by GEM;
an annual programme of training/CPD days (both national and regional days) constantly updated on the website;
work with the Institute of Education, other training providers such as City University and Engage, on developing such courses as members require;
training/CPD events must cater for those who are more senior/experienced, without ignoring the less experienced.
change this – recruit a web editor and be disciplined about submitting new information, ensuring that those who organise training events or the conference submit information at agreed times;
the website should have an annual or seasonal programme of training/CPD days constantly updated; use it more actively to provide help and support for members, with guidance on working with older children and adults, basic tool kits or checklists;
the website must show dates of Board meetings and minutes as soon as possible, in addition to the current coverage in News;
move the explanation of the legal status of GEM with details of its Trustees and their responsibilities to an about GEM page.
Email discussion list:
discontinue this, replace it with an online discussion forum on the website;
ensure active moderation, with clear guidelines about what is and is not appropriate.
ensure that this ground breaking scheme has continued funding;
I support the Board’s decision to pursue funding from CyMAL to do the same in Wales.
the establishment of this network was inspired and forward thinking – they appear happy at the moment so maintain this network.
no need to change the name of the company and charity at present;
the mix on the Board of museum and education professionals, retired practitioners and non-museum people should be retained to give balance and realism to GEM;
all the Board’s Trustees should subscribe to the relevant parts of the Museums Association’s Code of Ethics;
the Chair and Vice Chair should continue to have contrasting backgrounds and be used as a complementary pair;
the role of Secretary should be abolished from the Board with that seat reverting to being an ordinary Trustee;
for new Trustees, recruit museum professionals who are not purely from an education background but are associated with learning, education and professional development;
draw up a succession plan for new Trustees;
Trustees should be more willing to support the work of GEM overall;
make the committee system work;
recruit additional volunteers who have specific tasks which will be time limited;
find a suitable replacement for the archivist urgently;
create a development plan, updated every three years with consultation of members.
Appendix: DATA ON GEM
There are currently 941 members of GEM, including institutional and honorary. They are as follows (current for the end of November 2005):
personal UK (387)
personal overseas (32)
institutional overseas (41)
complimentary overseas (5)
· 64% of members teach directly,
· 42% advise teachers,
· 79% prepare national curriculum-related materials,
· 35% manage freelance teachers and trainers.