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Case study: Visiting Battlefields

Date Posted: 02/12/2014

School: Granville Sports College, Woodville, Derbyshire
KS: 3
Destination: First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme, Belgium and France

In September two pupils and one teacher from Granville Sports College returned from a unique education programme and battlefield tour run by the Institute of Education (IOE) and school tour provider Equity.

The First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme, funded by the government, is designed to help teachers and pupils from every state funded secondary school in England to develop a deeper understanding of the war.

The students, and 24 other secondary schools from the region, joined a four-day tour to the Western Front accompanied by IOE and Equity staff, professional battlefield guides and serving soldiers.

Work started well before the trip, and having researched soldiers commemorated on the war memorial in Woodville village, pupils discovered that Lance Sergeant Levi Harrison of the Leicestershire Regiment had lived on the local high street. They traced his path from enlistment to the army to his final resting place in Belgium.

Levi was 19 when he enlisted for the war on 30th September, 1914, and he died in the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, three years later. Nell Bourne, aged 12, and John Gaskin, 13, visited his grave in Tyne Cot Cemetery and laid a cross in his memory.

Martin Adler, history teacher at Granville Sports College, said: “This study tour has been sad, tragic and uplifting at the same time.

“Visiting the sites and following the lives and stories of the men who fought and those who were touched by the war has brought history to life in a way that just isn’t possible in the classroom.

“A personal highlight has been the opportunity for our pupils to discover the stories behind some of the people who died in the war from the local community. This has made the study of something abstract and vast far more meaningful.”

During the trip the group attended the last post ceremony in Ypres and visited museums, battlefield sites, memorials and cemeteries including the Commonwealth war grave sites of Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium, and Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, France.

Going out to the battlefields and seeing the landscape and the history of the war made it easier for pupils to visualise the scale of the war and the lives lost.

Teachers also participate in an innovative IOE-led professional development programme which challenges them to think about what, how and why they teach the First World War both in the classroom and on field trips.

Professor Stuart Foster, executive director of the programme at the IOE, said: “We have worked closely with Equity to develop a high quality tour programme that provides both outstanding support for teachers and engaging, relevant and meaningful learning opportunities for pupils.

“Through enquiry based learning, we will encourage teachers and pupils to think critically about the causes and development of the conflict, how it was perceived at the time, and to examine different historical interpretations of the First World War.

“This programme will empower teachers to deliver more effective lessons and future battlefield tours and support schools in establishing commemorative projects.”

John Bentley, chief executive officer of Equity, said: “Equity is proud to partner the IOE to provide the tour element of the programme.

“We have designed an innovative and inspiring learning experience through a tour itinerary that is both personally and regionally relevant.

“The inclusion of experienced guides, serving soldiers and digital technology really brings the history alive and adds unique and thought provoking perspectives.”

The programme runs until March 2019 and eligible schools not already booked on a tour should visit www.centenarybattlefieldtours.org to register for a place. The website also includes a wide range of free teaching and learning resources.

For more information contact Equity:

01273-810 766
www.equityschooltravel.co.uk

School Travel Organiser's Guide