The season of Remembrance provides us with the chance to think about the hope offered for the future and to resolve to do all we can to avoid future conflicts. Boys across the School, therefore, were able to express their thoughts and emotions, not only in our annual Remembrance Service, but more widely across the curriculum, in their Art, History and English lessons as they took time to reflect for Remembrance.
Boys in Years 3–8 have learnt about Remembrance in their History lessons. This was also touched on a few weeks ago at Eden Camp WWII Museum when some Year 6–8s visited York. Not only do these lessons and trips serve as an excellent opportunity to fine tune key skills in History, they further educate the boys on the importance of resilience demonstrated by the men and women throughout the wars. The Senior School very much enjoyed following on from Black History Month’s theme of Saluting Our Sisters when looking at the roles of women in WWI.
Running alongside the Remembrance Day lessons in class, boys were set the challenge of finding all the silhouettes of the soldiers on display around the School to symbolise the tragic loss of life, like ‘The Unknown Warrior’. These silhouettes that have also given the opportunity for genuine reflection.
Year 3 focussed on visual sources and paintings. An example of the artwork used as a stimulus in found in this article. Mr Fearon shared ideas around why Remembrance is so important, the symbol of the poppy and then discussed the understated colour-scheme and how it reflected the sombre mood of the topic. Year 3 were then asked to create their own piece of art to show their personal feelings/understanding of it. They used water colours to paint poppies on the poem In Flanders Field. This was in addition to also looking at visual and written sources to determine the conditions of the trenches for British soldiers.
Year 4 watched clips of news reels from World War I and learned about the idea of ‘conscription’. They made thoughtful observations about whether they thought this was fair and why it was implemented at the time. Having studied Roman soldiers earlier in the term, the boys compared their uniform, equipment and weapons with that of the World War I soldiers. They reflected on some of the differences, such as why the WWI soldiers did not have armour and shields. We also shared the story of the ‘Christmas Truce’, which the boys were surprised to learn was real when we studied newspapers, photographs and read letters which described the extraordinary events. It brought home how both sides were not so different after all.
Year 5 took an in depth look at life in the trenches for a World War I soldier. Working in groups, they used reference materials to decide which the most dangerous hazards were. They created ‘Top Trump’ cards comparing the features of some of the weapons and labelled a diagram of the trench itself. Throughout, the boys asked thoughtful questions to extend their learning and had a much better understanding of the hardships endured by the soldiers whom we remember at this time of year and why we wear the poppy as the wars of the twentieth century that gave us our tradition of Remembrance and the wearing of the poppy.
Building on work and discussions in Black History Month in October, boys in Year 6 have been studying diversity within the British Army and looking at soldiers from the Commonwealth. Year 6 focussed on a case study about Walter Tull and his life. In December 1914, Walter joined the 17th Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment, also known as the Football Battalion because it was mainly made up of professional footballers. Walter had a successful army career during the First World War, rising quickly through the ranks. He was promoted from private to sergeant of his regiment. In November 1916, he fought in the Battle of the Somme before moving back to England to begin training as an officer. Before this time, only a White, British-born person could train for this role. In May 1917, Walter was made an officer of the 23rd Battalion of the Middlesex regiment. He became the first Black officer in the British Army, leading White, British soldiers into battle.
Inspired by our recent trip to York and Eden Camp WWII Museum, and in line with Black History Month’s theme Saluting Our Sisters, Years 7 and 8 conducted a depth study into the role of women in WWI. The York trip to Eden Camp saw boys look at roles of women, including the wonderful work of the Women’s Voluntary Service. Additionally, the boys looked at a women’s football team that was born out of the First World War; that was later banned by the English Football Association because they felt threatened by the women’s game. This generated a very interesting discussion about equality and fairness.
This in-depth enquiry-based project looking at the role of women in Britain in WWI included The Munitionettes (Canaries), the Women’s Land Army, The Postal Service, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps and the Volunteer Aid Detachments. Having synthesised information about these different areas, boys then followed their own line of research on which culminated in looking at how Dick, Kerr’s Ladies Football Team helped out with the war effort – a direct comparison to Year 6’s work on Walter Tull and the men’s Football Battalions of WWI.
Elsewhere in the community, Year 4 joined other local pupils at the Beaconsfield War Memorial, whilst Cubs represented the School at the Remembrance Sunday service and parade. Here, two of our Cubs, along with Akela, were among the few in attendance at the Beaconsfield Remembrance Service on Remembrance Sunday. The rest of the Pack also worked towards a Remembrance Garden in their sessions.
By exploring the experiences of different individuals and genders, it has enabled the boys to link them to a wider historical narrative of Remembrance. As such, honouring the contributions made to society by people of a different heritage and gender and their communities; in addition to emphasising the need to come together around a shared common goal to achieve a better world for everyone.
The School is owned by Beaconsfield Educational Trust Limited, a company limited by guarantee, whose registered office is at 73 Station Road, Beaconsfield, Bucks HP9 1AA. Registration No. 717500 Registered Charity No. 313120