Educational resources – thank goodness there’s no exam!

The challenge

Produce some educational resources using Unilever’s business archive.  Preferably for online access.  Yeeesss I thought, I can do that, I mean I know I’m not an education specialist, but I have an education, I went all the way through the education system (eventually, some extended time outs, but we’ll skim over that). We have some brilliant resources in the archive.  All I need to do is find out what the curriculum is, and do that, it’ll be great fun. Or not.  The curriculum has a lot going on. Key stages, the different subjects, the programmes of study, aims, targets, statutory, non-statutory, exams! So many things.

Sunlight Soap Box, Front 2, 1900, acc.1998-110 Published by kind permission of Unilever Archives

But what?

I needed to make it useful, something schools could engage with – teachers are busy people, they ain’t got time to be wading through an archivist’s flight of fancy.  But I had some stuff, some great resources, it just needed a skilful eye to pick out the educational shiny baubles.  I needed help.

But who?

The cavalry arrived in the form of Jane Davies, a heritage learning specialist with a background in developing learning resources.  And I was right, we did have some brilliant resources, too many for this project it seemed.  The old adage that less is more was my biggest lesson.  Seeing Jane work her way through the small mountain of material I had available for consideration, the idea’s sparking made me realise I had been overthinking this. So, we whittled it down to 2 strong topics that we had some good background information for.  And, bonus, I now also had copious notes about how I could make more resources to launch at intervals throughout the coming year. I had already found a platform to host the material, thanks to an earlier conversation with the very knowledgeable Katherine Carter at the M&S archive who had suggested MyLearning; this being somewhere teachers were already familiar with meant a stronger likelihood of our resource being picked up.  And, as it turned out, MyLearning will also help craft a useful resource.

1998-11 1951 Persil washes whiter advert Published by kind permission of Unilever Archives

So when…?

We launched at the end of January 2020.  Quite timely as things turned out.  I get regular updates and it’s going well.  But… it was 2020, and my plans for more resources are still just plans, without access to the physical collections my ideas remain mostly in my head. Although 2021 hasn’t got off to the best start, I still have my notes (somewhere!!) and eventually there will be more. For now though, have a look a quick look, see what we made

Helen Unsworth – Outreach Archivist, Unilever


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