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Cockenzie Primary School 2018

P6 pupils from Cockenzie Primary School creating a cartoon strip to show events which took place on 11th November 1918 onwards © War Memorials Trust, 2018
P6 pupils from Cockenzie Primary looking at images of war memroials and labelling to help explain what war memorials are © War Memorials Trust, 2018
P6 pupils from Cockenzie Primary School looking at war memorial inscriptions to explain why war memorials were created © War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: East Lothian
  • Group/School name: Cockenzie Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: P6

Following a successful visit in October 2017, Cockenzie Primary School requested a repeat visit in the lead up to Remembrance Day 2018.  The topic for the two classes prior to the visit from War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer is World War II.  The classes also have the responsibility of delivering a Remembrance Assembly to the whole school.  The visit by WMT enables the pupils to reflect on what they learnt from their World War II topic and also make links between local war memorials and Remembrance.  On the day of the visit, WMT’s Learning Officer spent the first half of the morning with one class and then delivered the same session to the other class during the second half of the morning.  The session was split so that the first part focused on Remembrance Day and the second half focused on war memorials.

The session began with pupils creating a mind map to show what existing knowledge they had of Remembrance.  Questions including What is it?; When?; What happens? and Why is it a special day? were used to prompt ideas and discussion.  After discussing and sharing their ideas on their mind map, pupils were asked to consider what was occurring 100 years ago.  It was established that World War I was still happening.  Volunteers were selected to hold cards which created a simple timeline highlighting the events which took place from July 1918 through to the Armistice coming in to effect on 11th November 1918.

After acknowledging that the news of the Armistice spread relatively quickly, pupils were asked how they thought people reacted when they heard the news.  Pupils suggested that people would have been happy, ecstatic and relieved.  An image was shown to demonstrate the celebratory mood.  It was later discussed that this celebratory mood was tinged with sadness because of the number of people who had lost their lives during the war.

To help pupils understand the history of Remembrance Day and that many of the traditions which began in the years following the end of the First World War still continue today, they created a cartoon strip.  After pupils had drawn or noted down what had taken place on 11th November 1918, WMT’s Learning Officer shared events which took place in the lead up to and on 11th November in the years 1919, 1920 and 1921.  It was explained that in the years following the Armistice, many local communities created war memorials.  In the final section of the cartoon strip, pupils added what happens on Remembrance Day today.

The second half of the session focused on ‘What is a war memorial?’  Images of war memorials were places around the classroom and pupils carouselled from one table to another.  At each table they were asked to look at the war memorial pictured and use it to help them identify what a war memorial is.  They could add notes and labels around the images.  These notes were then used to help explain what war memorials are.  Some pupils noted that some of the memorials showed the dates 1914-1919 for the Great War.  Using what they had learnt in the first half of the session, pupils were able to identify that the year 1919 related to when the Treaty of Versailles was signed.

Images of local war memorials were shared with pupils, many of which they recognised before revealing how many war memorials there are in the UK.  A simple timeline was used to show when war memorials were created.  This led on to a discussion about why there was a huge wave of memorialisation following the end of the First World War.  To support their discussions, pupils looked at war memorial inscriptions which highlighted that the fallen were not repatriated and that there was a desire to ensure the sacrifices they made were remembered forever.  To further support their understanding of why so many war memorials were created after the First World War, pupils were shown an image of a Commonwealth Grave Commission Cemetery in France where Private Jones from Cockenzie is buried and a Commonwealth War Grave Commission memorial in Greece upon which you will find the name of Private Mackenzie also from Cockenzie.  The family of these men were unlikely to be able to travel to France or Greece however they could easily visit a war memorial within their own town much more easily.

It was fantastic to work with both P6 classes at Cockenzie Primary School.  The pupils engaged really well with all the activities and dealt with the topic of war memorials in a really mature way.  It is hoped that the information shared with the pupils gave them a solid understanding of Remembrance and war memorials which they could then share with their peers when leading their assembly on Remembrance.

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