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Burnley Road Academy, Mytholmoryd 2018

Yr 5 pupils from Burnley Road Academy looking at the contrasting emotions following the news of the Armistice © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Yr5 pupils from Burnley Road Academy looking at images of local war memorials © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Yr 5 pupils from Burnley Road Academy looking at before and after photographs of Mytholmroyd war memorial © War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: West Yorkshire
  • Group/School name: Burnley Road Academy
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Whole school

One of the visits carried out in the lead up to Remembrance Day 2018 was to Burnley Road Academy in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire.  The school’s focus after they came back from half term break, in the lead up to 11th November, was Remembrance.  Each class had activities linked to Remembrance and World War I planned in order to increase pupils’ awareness of the centenary of the signing of the Armistice.  War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer delivered an assembly to the whole school and then worked with both year 5 classes.

The assembly focused on the centenary of World War I and the significance of 11th November 1918.  Pupils were able to identify that the First World War ended on this date.  Details of the events including when the Armistice was signed and when the guns fell silent were shared with pupils.  This led to a discussion around what we do now at 11.00am on the 11th November.

Pupils were asked to suggest why we still remember World War I and 11th November 1918 today.  Answers included the need to remember those who risked their lives for their country in addition to those who gave their lives.  Pupils were made aware that the Great War was the first truly global conflict, everyone was affected in some way and also the fallen were not repatriated.  Images of Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries in France and Greece were shown at this point as Private E G Hopkinson and Private John Helliwell, both from Mytholmroyd, were buried in the cemeteries shown.  Private Hopkinson lived at 18 Westfield Terrace which is the road adjacent to the school. 

It was highlighted that the families of Private Hopkinson and Private Helliwell would have been unlikely to be able to travel to the graves of their relatives due to the distance, length of journey and cost involved.  This was one of the reasons why local war memorials were created.  Pupils were shown an image of the unveiling of Mytholmroyd War memorial which took place in July 1922.  The assembly concluded with a quiet reflective moment to remember those from Mytholmroyd who had fought so that we could live the lives we do today.

WMT’s Learning Officer delivered a session to each of the year 5 classes.  A former WMT Conservation Officer and a local resident, Jade Smith, who had been heavily involved in the works undertaken to the Mytholmroyd war memorial statue and memorial garden also attended these sessions.  Pupils began by sharing some of the things which they had learnt from the assembly.  Both classes demonstrated they had remembered some really interesting facts.

Pupils were then asked to consider how people reacted to the news of the Armistice.  They had some images to support their discussions.  It was established that there were contrasting emotions.  Many people were delighted that the war was over however this was mixed with sadness because of the loss of life.

This sadness and desire to remember those who had lost their lives resulted in many communities beginning to create war memorials.  At this point, pupils moved around the room to look at images of war memorials from the local area.  It was highlighted that many of these are approaching 100 years old.  Pupils discussed the war memorials as they looked at them and words which were ‘overheard’ were then shared with the group.  The location of each war memorial was also revealed.

One local war memorial was missing from the activity and pupils quickly identified it was the Men of Mytholmroyd Urban District.  Information about the memorial including design, its maker and the date it was unveiled were shared with pupils.  They were then asked to look at two images of the war memorial and identify similarities and differences.  The most notable differences was the how clean it was and also style of the head.  At this point, former War Memorials Trust Conservation Officer Sheena Campbell spoke to pupils about the type of stone the war memorial is made from and appropriate methods of for cleaning.  She had samples of different types of stones which were handed round to pupils and some pupils were able to clean some of the stone samples.

Jade then led the final part of the session where she spoke about some of the World War I fallen from Mytholmroyd who she has researched.  She also showed the school log book in which Private Hopkinson, who had been mentioned in the assembly, is mentioned.  Pupils were amazed to learn that he had once attended the same school as they do now.  Jade was also able to talk about the vandalism the memorial had been subject to and the works carried out to rectify this.  Finally she showed pupils the maquette of the head which was used to replace the one which had been created at short notice and was not in keeping with the original design when the original head had been stolen.

Having a Conservation Officer and local resident attend the visit provided a great opportunity for the year 5 pupils to learn more about war memorial conservation as well as their own war memorial and the problems it has faced since it was first unveiled.  By helping them to understand the importance of war memorials and share some of the stories of those it remembers, hopefully the visit will inspire the war memorial custodians of the future.

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