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Mass Education

Secondary school students at the Mass Education exhibitionThe aim of the Mass Education project was to inspire and engage wider audiences in the Mass Observation Archive. Supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Mass Observation Archive collaborated with schools and community organisations in the South East.

Focusing on Mass Observation diaries and the theme of recording everyday life, the Mass Education project provided schools and community groups opportunities to explore, examine, analyse, debate and learn about daily life in Britain since 1937.

The Mass Education Project worked with five schools in the region including, Downs Junior School, and Dorothy Stringer in Brighton, Sir Robert Woodard Academy in Lancing, Oriel High School in Crawley and St Catherine's Preparatory School in Guildford.

Primary school boys taking part in drama session dressed in Mass Observer macThrough creative workshops led by practitioners Rachel Henson, Rosanna Lowe and Grace Towner, young people have learnt about Mass Observation, honed their observational skills, recorded daily life in their school communities using diaries and photography and conducted research amongst their peers. These workshops encouraged participants to relate archives to their contemporary lives increasing their understanding of the value of heritage to all in the community.


Alexa Neale presenting her paper on What it is to be a Young person in 2014 at the Sallis Benny TheatreAlexa Neale (PHD History student at University of Sussex) wrote and presented a paper on 'What it is to be a Young Person in 2014' based on the findings of the student directives. Click here to listen to Alexa's presentation.

The Mass Education Project also worked with a range of community groups and organisations across Brighton and Hove including Strike A Light and Photoworks, to promote opportunities for interaction with the collection through workshops, tours, talks, family events. It also invited contributions to the Mass Observation Archive.


The results of their engagement with the project were displayed at an exhibtiion as part of the Brighton Photo Biennial 2014, which included young peoples’ documentary photography, day diaries and observations, flip books and responses to young peoples’ own directives. Day diaries and photographs were included in the exhibition representing the collaboration between the Mass Observation Archive and the wider community.

Click here to view a film of some of the Flip Books created from photographs taken by young people.

The Mass Education Project ran from September 2013 - March 2015 and has provided educational resources and Continuing Professional Development opportunities for schools, as well as outreach sessions for local community groups. Mass Education project materials will used in the long-term to support learning and engagement with schools and wider audiences.


See our learning or resources page to discover school sessions and resources created as part of the Mass Education project. You can also download infographics created by Dorothy Stringer, Sir Robert Woodard Academy and Oriel High School