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Cavendish Community Primary School, Greater Manchester

Children doing a war memorial condition survey © D Horsley, 2015
Cavendish Community Primary School war memorial plaque, Greater Manchester © Cavendish Community Primary School, 2015
Names on Cavendish Community Primary School war memorial © Cavendish Community Primary School, 2015
  • County name: Greater Manchester
  • Group/School name: Cavendish Community Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type:

Staff and pupils at Cavendish Community Primary School have been involved in Historic England’s Heritage Schools project ( and as part of this learned about the First World War in the autumn term of 2014. The school has a war memorial on site, shown in the photos, which commemorates former pupils. Part of the First World War study included researching the names on this memorial and this resulted in Year 5 pupils managing to trace a descendant of one of the men named on it, who then visited the school and was able to see her relative’s name on the memorial. Seeing such a personal connection to the memorial helped pupils to understand how important it still is as we commemorate the centenary of the war those men fought in.

In March 2015 War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer was asked to visit the school to help the pupils continue with their First World War work. Historic England, Civic Voice and WMT are collaboratively developing a resource that will enable young people to carry out condition surveys of war memorials and add information about them to War Memorials Online ( WMT’s visit to Cavendish Primary aimed to help with the development of this resource.

The visit began with a lesson in the classroom which focused on getting pupils to understand the importance of war memorials and familiarising them with some different types of war memorials so that they could see the variety of designs that were chosen by local communities. After looking at some cards depicting a range of memorials and discussing the designs, pupils used images of war memorial inscriptions to work out some of the reasons why communities were driven to erect war memorials after the First World War (WMT’s Why were war memorials created? resource sheet). This highlighted how important war memorials were to communities at the time, which led pupils into considering how and why they are still important to us today. This linked well with the class’s visit from the relative of one of those commemorated on the memorial because they could see how important the memorial was to them and this helped them understand why they should help to look after it now and in the future.

Moving on from this, the pupils heard from WMT’s Learning Officer about some of the problems that can face war memorials today, such as neglect, vandalism and damage caused by weathering and looked at some examples of war memorials that have suffered from these issues. They were told that War Memorials Online is a website that records the location and condition of war memorials in the UK, and that anyone can add information to it. The memorial in the school was already recorded on War Memorials Online but the pupils were given the task of updating and adding to this information so that the record is complete.

The next part of the lesson then took place at the memorial itself, which is sited in the school’s entrance corridor. Pupils were split into groups with each group tasked with gathering specific information about the memorial. The information required was:

  • Photographs of the memorial, its setting and close ups of key features
  • The memorial’s location, setting and type
  • A description of the memorial
  • A record of the inscriptions
  • An assessment of its condition (Good, Fair, Poor or Very Bad)

The children all responded to their assigned tasks enthusiastically and the level of detail and thought they put into their answers was impressive, especially the care they took to really examine the memorial closely. All the pupils seemed to enjoy the task and recognised the importance of the job they were doing, and it was great to see some of the future custodians of our war memorials contributing to the protection of their school’s heritage.

Following the visit to the school WMT’s Learning Officer added the information the children had collected to War Memorials Online and this can now be seen at Adding information to the website is a straightforward process and something a class teacher or youth group leader could do following completion of similar tasks by a group of pupils or young people. Having up to date information is particularly important so we hope these groups will continue to regularly check their memorial.

WMT, Historic England and Civic Voice are grateful to the staff and pupils at Cavendish Primary for arranging this visit and hope that more schools are able to help monitor the condition of local war memorials.

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