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Ecole Jeannine Manuel, London

Pupils from Ecole Jeannine Manuel looking at war memorial images © Ecole Jeannine Manuel, 2018
War Memorials Trust's Learning Officer delivering classroom session at Ecole Jeannine Manuel © Ecole Jeannine Manuel, 2018
Pupils from Ecole Jeannine Manuel visiting Rangers London Regiment war memorial cenotaph, London © Ecole Jeannine Manuel, 2018
  • County name: London
  • Group/School name: Ecole Jeannine Manuel
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Year 6

At the beginning of 2018 our Learning Officer was contacted by one of the year 6 teachers at Ecole Jeannine Manuel: a French, bilingual, international school located in London.  The year 6 pupils were learning about World War I during the spring term and would then learn about World War II during the summer term.  The two topics would be covered by both their English and French teachers.  As part of their work the pupils would be asked to design a war memorial and as such the teachers were keen for them to understand the purpose of war memorials, why they were created and, if possible, visit a local memorial.  The pupils would also spend some time drawing comparisons with memorials in France.

The visit took place at the end of January 2018.  Our Learning Officer spent the morning with the two year 6 classes: initially spending time in the classroom before venturing out to visit two war memorials in the local area. The classroom session focused on the questions:  What are war memorials? and When and why were war memorials created?  In order to answer these questions pupils looked at photographs of a variety of different types of war memorials in small groups while discussing the definition of a war memorial.  The pupils’ thoughts and ideas were discussed as a whole and then local war memorials were used to consolidate the idea of what war memorials are.  Two war memorial inscriptions were discussed to help pupils understand why war memorials were created and particularly why so many were created after the First World War.

Despite the unpredictability of the weather on the day of the visit, our Learning Officer took the pupils on a short walk around the local area stopping at two war memorials which the pupils looked at in great detail to see what they could learn from them.  Comparisons were drawn between the two war memorials and the differences highlighted to reinforce the idea that war memorials designs do vary. 

The first war memorial which the pupils visited was the Rangers London Regiment 12th Battalion war memorial cenotaph on Chenies Street (www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/120319).  The pupils and staff were interested to know that behind the memorial is one of London’s World War II deep level shelters which was used towards the end of 1942 by General Eisenhower as his headquarters and was where he conducted the D-Day landings from.  Pupils were asked to describe what the memorial looked like and also to see what they could find out from the war memorial as the battles which the Rangers London Regiment fought in during the First World War are listed on the base of the memorial.  Given the condition of the memorial pupils were also asked to consider whether it was important for works to be carried out to improve the condition of the memorial along with their reasons why.

The other memorial which pupils visited was the war memorial plaque next to the entrance of the British Museum (www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/112504) which remembers “the men who went from the museum and fought and fell” in both World Wars.  Pupils were asked to describe the memorial and compare it with the one they had seen on Chenies Street.  Our Learning Officer shared some information about the men named on the memorial including Private Frank Derrett who lived a few minutes’ walk away.

Upon arriving back at school the pupils shared their thoughts and reactions to what they had learnt and seen through the course of the morning.  A lengthy discussion took place about how pupils thought they could protect the Rangers London Regiment war memorial including encasing it in a transparent box.  Pupils were then shown some of the common features included within war memorial designs, some of which they had seen when visiting the war memorials in the local area, with the aim of helping them to consider what they would include as part of their own war memorial design when they carried out his task later in the term.

It was a pleasure to work with the year 6 pupils at Ecole Jeannine Manuel and it is clear that they enjoyed the visit and also learnt a lot about war memorials.  It was really interesting to hear their thoughts and ideas on how to protect and conserve war memorials for the future.

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