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Discovery School, Kent

Pupils learning about St Mary's Church war memorial, Kent © Peter Harmer, 2013
A primary school class working on their research of the local war memorial © War Memorials Trust, 2013
Researching the names on a war memorial © Peter Harmer, 2013
  • County name: Kent
  • Group/School name: Discovery School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type:

The Discovery School responded to a request sent out to all schools in Kent from War Memorials Trust asking for assistance with developing a training film for the Trust’s new Learning Volunteers as part of the charity’s HLF funded project to pilot the role of Learning Volunteer in Kent ( The Discovery School was keen to be involved and the Trust worked closely with the staff and pupils in Year 6 over several visits in November 2013.

The purpose of the Learning Volunteer film that was being made during our visits to the school was to show potential Learning Volunteers some of the typical educational sessions that are offered to schools and youth groups as part of the Trust’s Learning Programme and that they would be delivering themselves as trained Learning Volunteers. Therefore several of these sessions were delivered and filmed in the school with different classes taking part to demonstrate what the Learning Programme can offer. The first session was a whole school assembly giving pupils an introduction to what war memorials are and why they exist. Following this, the oldest pupils in the school spent an afternoon researching the names on one of their local war memorials, the cross in St Mary’s churchyard in West Malling ( This involved developing questions about the people named on the war memorial, about whom they knew very little, and then using IT to search for the answers. By doing this, the pupils were able to ‘get to know’ the people behind the names and this really helped develop their understanding of the importance of the memorial in helping us to remember and commemorate the fallen.

The day following these sessions, the Trust returned to the Discovery School for the final session, a visit to the memorial that the Year 6 pupils had studied the previous day. During this lesson the pupils were able to apply what they had learned the previous day by looking for the names they had researched and remembering those people and reflecting on what they had experienced. The pupils also spent time looking at  the actual structure of the memorial and noting different aspects of its design using War Memorials Trust’s Looking at a war memorial resource sheet, so learning about the conservation as well as the history of war memorials. Towards the end of the session at the memorial, the pupils reflected on what it meant to them to be standing at the memorial now, in 2013, and remembering past generations of people from their area who had lost their lives in the World Wars.

Throughout the lessons that took place over the two day visit, several pupils were interviewed as part of the film so that the Trust could get their feedback on what their thoughts about war memorials and learning about them were – by doing this we were able to gauge what works well during sessions and allow our volunteers to hear firsthand what they might deliver when they start going into schools, as well as hearing some ‘before and after’ thoughts on war memorials from the children. The interviews also helped us find out what particularly interested pupils about the topic, so that we could tailor future resources to what has received good feedback in the past.

Following the visit to the Discovery School to film these sessions, the footage was edited and the Trust’s Learning Volunteer training film completed. It has since been used in training sessions that our Kent Learning Volunteers participated in as part of our HLF funded project, and was described as the most helpful training tool used during these sessions. Making the film was hugely beneficial for War Memorials Trust's project; it has become a real asset and we hope that the staff and pupils who participated in the project enjoyed the experience and found it useful too. We were certainly pleased with the feedback received when staff and pupils were asked about what they had enjoyed about the visits – pupils really engaged with the sessions and said that they had found it interesting to learn about an aspect of history they had not previously considered in any great detail.

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