Working Life: Ellen Lee

The education officer at the RAF museum in London brings the history of aviation to life for children; despite her fear of flying

Ellen Lee
Ellen Lee

My day starts with checking emails, but it gets busier when the schools start to arrive mid-morning. There are six of us on the education team and it's great to be able to bring history to life for children from nursery age upwards. I get to be a big kid myself, which I love.

It's ironic that I work at the RAF Museum because I'm actually scared of flying, but my grandfather was in the RAF and it's such an interesting venue. Many children find the aircraft breathtaking, and they enjoy dressing up in original RAF uniforms and having a squadron photo taken. We have a wartime classroom where the children make gas masks, learn about what life was like during the war and experience an air raid siren. We have about eight school groups a day, so we need to ensure that we're pitching our sessions to the correct key stage and covering the curriculum.

I especially enjoy working with children with special educational needs. To get a response from them to the tangible experiences we offer here is especially rewarding. I'm proud that the museum was recently the first to be awarded an Autism Access Award from the National Autistic Society. I worked with the NAS to audit the museum and put things in place to help people with autism enjoy their visits, such as a quiet room, a structured route around the museum and information sheets with photos to help with planning a visit.

Receiving the award has added to my professional development in ways that I wouldn't have expected. I was interviewed on the London Live TV channel and I will give a presentation about working towards the award at a conference soon – both of which I haven't done before.

The Access and Learning Department is heavily involved in the exhibitions and I have curated my own ones. It's a role in which you never stop learning. My knowledge of aircraft and wars wasn't great when I took up the job eight years ago; I'm amazed at what I know now.

The Royal Air Force Museum's purpose is to tell the story of the RAF through its people and collections. The museum has sites in London and Cosford, Shropshire

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