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Literacy project

Mightier than the sword – Fight for Literacy

Royal Armouries is working hard to help the fight for literacy. This was a focus for our Education Team before the Covid-19 pandemic and we are keenly aware that this prolonged absence from school will make the learning gap for some children who are already falling behind, even greater.

That is why we are committed to continuing the development of our literacy programme, Mightier than the Sword.

School children on a self-guided visit to the museum exemplify how the literacy programme combines immersive and engaging learning.

Literacy attainment in Leeds school children is currently below the national average, and as a national museum with our home in Leeds, we want to make a difference. In partnership with Leeds Beckett University, we are pioneering a new literacy programme, which combines the immersive and engaging learning environment the museum offers with our experience of storytelling and live performance to deliver long-term benefit to Leeds school children.

‘Writing is our weakest area – children will now be inspired to write’
Local KS1 Teacher

Our vision is that every child will be able to access our museum learning experience regardless of socio-economic background. The literacy programme, Mightier than the Sword, will provide a learning experience that teachers can build on, giving them more resources to tackle falling literacy levels in our local schools.

The Storytellers and the manuscript

Central to the project are our Storytellers and our manuscript I.33.

The I.33 manuscript is one of the oldest and most enigmatic treasures in the Royal Armouries archive. This beautifully illustrated manual of swordsmanship, is dated to about 1310 making it the oldest known European fighting manual anywhere in existence. It features a rare sight in a medieval fight manual, a woman named Walpurgis.

Manuscript I.33 is central to the Literacy project and shows a medieval woman with sword and shield faces a priest.

The woman Walpurgis faces a priest with swords and bucklers. MS I.33

The Storytellers will skilfully bring this magnificent manuscript to life and involve the students in telling the previously untold story of Walpurgis. Using spoken language, drama and creative writing skills, pupils will be inspired to create their own hidden stories.

When the full programme can be rolled out, we will aim to work with approximately 720 local children over the duration of the project (an average of 60 per school). The programme will impact pupils’ attitudes towards writing, transforming it into something exciting which they are motivated to do. The workshop will touch on gender identity, patriarchy, bullying and mental health helping pupils improve their emotional literacy, reflected in their confidence, social engagement and interaction, and approach to creative writing.

Why we need your help

A schoolgirl peers excitedly at an ancient Greek helmet, it's a example of the positive impact we are looking for with Literacy projectRoyal Armouries is a charity. We need your support so that we can develop our online resources at this difficult time and then as soon as we are able and schools are open we can provide this free programme to disadvantaged children who are least likely to be able to access opportunities to learn outside the classroom.

DONATEYou can donate easily through the National Funding Scheme platform or by clicking on the DONATE button.