Following the sad loss of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, the History Department was honoured to team up with a number of other departments across the Prep School to provide a series of cross-curricular projects surrounding Elizabeth II to accurately recognise the legacy of Her Majesty’s long and unrivalled 70 year long reign. The aim was to give the boys in Years 3–8 the depth, breadth and a balance of knowledge and skills to understand this historical moment.
For 70 years Queen Elizabeth II has represented continuity and stability in an ever-changing world. She devoted her life to service, duty and dedication being an inspiration to many. Elizabeth II has been a symbol of a historical era, helping to create a monarchy that will be talked about for centuries to come. This major historical event symbolises a great change in the story of Britain as it is the end of the new Elizabethan era as this country moves into a new era. Cross-curricular work offers a creative way to develop children’s knowledge, skills and understanding across subject boundaries to allow for investigations that engage children’s imagination. This active enquiry provides us with endless opportunities for fostering children’s personal development and recapping on British Values, given the topic in question.
So, what have the boys been learning…?
In their Religious Studies and TPR lessons, boys across the Prep School have been discussing and learning about the different locations across the United Kingdom where the Queen was lying in state, in addition to the buildings where her state funeral and burial were held. Many boys within the Prep School were able to relate to this given the TV broadcast from Westminster Abbey in London and St George’s Chapel within Windsor Castle. They also looked at Monarchs who have had specific services in these magnificent Churches and considered why the Queen would have chosen as she did.
Within the Junior School, Year 3 spent their History lessons learning about the Queen’s life, drawing on a number of sources to construct their own timeline of events which stood out to them. This enabled them to consolidate previous work on chronological order by plotting timelines of Elizabeth II’s 70 year reign using the range of sources including comic strips, visual sources and other published timelines. Building on this in a number of the core subjects, our Junior School boys then used English lessons to begin creating open and closed questions that were presented in a hot seating session, whereby they had the opportunity to question the late Queen, as well as the new King. Longer written work about things they would like to understand better from history followed on from this. In Maths, the boys also took a look at the Queen’s impressive reign in numbers, enabling them to work on place value.
Year 3 completed various activities in English, Maths and History to mark the death of Queen Elizabeth II. The boys’ Form Tutors, Mr Fearon and Mrs Clarkem dressed up as royalty to answer some questions that they boys were curious about. This helped to stimulate some ideas for their letters and good wishes that they wrote to the late Queen and King Charles III. The boys were united in their thanks to the Queen for her service to the country and Commonwealth and for being patron of over 600 charities. Some memorable quotes included: ‘thank you for setting a good example for the world’, ‘everyone misses you’, ‘you have inspired people to work and to always be positive’, ‘rest in peace with your husband, Prince Philip’.
In Art, Year 3 completed a Paddington Bear project given the Queen’s marvelous sketch with Paddington Bear as part of her Platinum Jubilee, as the two were seen having tea and discussing their love of marmalade sandwiches together. The boys sketched their Paddington and added a luggage label with and a quote from the Queen.
Within Drama, Year 4 were introduced to the poem Butter for the King by AA Milne. Its lively rhythm and rhyme make it easy to memorise and a pleasure to read aloud. In the poem, the King wants ‘some butter for the Royal slice of bread’. His request passes from the Queen to the Dairymaid to the Alerderney cow who sleepily suggests that he has marmalade instead. This inspired the boys to write a poem of their own for the Queen, which they performed with much enthusiasm.
Both Years 3 and 4 also explored the Picture News Special to learn more about the story of the Queen, linking to their History lessons. Given the Queen’s brilliant sense of service, the boys were impressed at the amount of charities that she was involved with and tested their understanding by undertaking a Kahoot! to see how much they could recall about Britain’s iconic monarch, and learn about her life and contributions to the world.
Within the Middle School Years 5 and 6 worked on a two-week project on the History of the Commonwealth with links to Geography. King George VI was the first Head of the Commonwealth, and Queen Elizabeth II became Head when he died. Having had Mr Maxfield and Mr Fryer present their own Commonwealth project, the boys were set the tasks of creating a teaching tool on A brief history of the Commonwealth; the leader(s) of the Commonwealth; or explain the importance of the Commonwealth and how it continues to help individual countries and as well as do good globally. It was reported that more than HALF of all Britons, and an estimated 4.1 billion globally, watched footage of the Queen’s funeral, showing just what a monumental moment this was for British History. Part of the funeral procession in Central London saw the gun carriage carrying the Queen’s coffin travel past the Commonwealth Gates, with torches alight on top, and the flags of all nations within the Commonwealth lining either side of the street. This formed the basis of a discussion linking the relevance of the Commonwealth to the late Queen Elizabeth II for Years 5 and 6 in their History and Geography lessons, as they continued with their projects on the Commonwealth. Boys were ‘visited’ by King Charles III and William, Prince of Wales, when they had the brief for the project delivered. Years 5 and 6 have since worked hard to produce teaching tools on the history of the Commonwealth with some groups also focussing on specific countries.
Linking further to their learning in History, Year 5 also looked at Jubilee Fractions in Maths and remembering the Platinum Jubliee earlier this year as they solved various problems presented to them. Year 6 Set 2 consolidated their work on number and place value by looking at the record-breaking numbers of The Queen’s reign. They also used this opportunity to work on partitioning, combining, ordering and rounding numbers. The eagle-eyed boys also spotted another link between this and their other History topic of the Normans as Elizabeth II was the 40th monarch since William the Conqueror obtained the crown of England.
In the Senior School, Years 7 and 8 have also been engaging in cross-curricular learning within History and English. Year 7 spent their History lessons watching The Great Debate finalists’ speeches from the Historical Association’s public-speaking competition, examining change over the last 70 years of Elizabeth II’s reign. Building on this, they are working towards their own public speaking on the topic, “The 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II has seen global and widespread changes including in: societal infrastructure, industry, rural life, the environment and ideas. Which changes of the last 70 years have affected your local area the most?” Both year groups have also been analysing a contemporary poem, Floral Tribute by Simon Armitage as there are lots of Elizabethan features to pick out, forming the basis of a discussion and review within their English lessons, further linking to what they will have covered in History.
Year 7 explored visual sources with the focus on Cecil Beaton’s 1953 coronation photograph of Elizabeth II and how it borrowed heavily from the coronation portrait of Elizabeth I. This enabled them to debate how New Elizabethan’s chose to interpret the earlier period, now known as the Old Elizabethans.
Elsewhere, Year 8 historians have also been working on their skills for answering section one of Common Entrance examinations using a collection of sources from the Royal Archives on Queen Elizabeth II. Sources, both primary and secondary, looked at her life and contributions to the world, as well as part of a speech delivered by Elizabeth II at the meeting of the Accession Council on 8 February 1952. Not only did this allow boys to reflect on such a successful reign, it has given them invaluable practice at consolidating skills necessary for analysing sources.
Through their engaging and challenging cross-curricular learning during the two-week period of national mourning, the boys have been inspired by the life of Queen Elizabeth II and her sense of service. She will certainly be remembered as a Queen who spent her whole life keeping the promise she made when she was first crowned – to serve her people and her country. The History Department will seek to deliver another whole-school approach during King Charles III’s Coronation.