Aim: To extend and deepen understanding of the Great War, of the History staff, staff from other departments and students, with particular focus on local connections.
Year 1: A cross-curricular working party was set up with teachers in other departments and they worked on a number of projects, primarily on ex-pupils and staff at the school. Displays were created and assemblies presented to all year groups, focusing around a day of ‘Wear Red for Remembrance’. The publicity generated by various activities led to a number of families coming forward with more information on former pupils and staff who fought in the war, and pupils continued to research their lives. A successful trip to the battlefields took place and had extremely positive feedback from students and parents.
Year 2: Cross-curricular links and projects continued to be built on, with more departments becoming involved. The Wear Red for Remembrance Day was held again with a particular focus on a former pupil, and the Remembrance Day service involved large numbers of pupils, staff and members of the local community, raising awareness of those who fought in WWI. A photograph was discovered of the school’s 1909-1910 football team, and a display was made from a canvas print and a reproduction retro football shirt. 6,000 poppies were planted in the school grounds to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Great War. A student-voice questionnaire was completed by Year 9 pupils, showing extremely positive results.
Year 3: All knowledge and research was embedded into KS3 schemes of work, and research into ancestors of existing pupils has been developed. One pupil was able to research the history of two ancestors and then find their memorials while on the battlefields trip. The member of staff who went on the trip, and the accompanying English staff, have fed into CPD for the whole department, and two pupils from the school entered the national Conscription writing competition and came second and third respectively.
Evidence: Questionnaires, feedback from pupils, parents and wider community, uptake at GCSE.
Impact: As more staff and pupils have become involved, with some able to talk about their own experiences, the project has had a real impact on the school. Uptake has increased beyond Year 9 and the charity that ran the Conscription competition gave powerful feedback:
“I cannot begin to tell you how impressed I am… really moving you can feel the pain in the words. What it says to me is that their teacher has really explained what conscription meant and how tough it was to be in the trenches for months on end. We have no idea what our forefathers went through and we should never forget that they really did make the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you so much for sending them to me I have really enjoyed reading them.”
Reflections: Personally I have learnt that there is so much more to the Great War than I realised, and that getting pupils to learn about the experiences of others who attended the school is incredibly motivating for them. There is also a massive wealth of experience in the local community that can be tapped into.
Contact: Sue Lomas, Head of Humanities, email@example.com