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Meadowbrook Primary School, South Gloucestershire

Yr 5 pupils at Meadowbrook Primary School looking at inscriptions on war memorials c. War Memorials Trust, 2018
Yr 5 pupils at Meadowbrook Primary School researching the men named on their local war memorial c. War Memorials Trust, 2018
Yr 5 pupil at Meadowbrook Primary School researching the men named on their local war memorial c. War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: Gloucestershire
  • Group/School name: Meadowbrook Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Year 5

This learning visit was carried out as part of a set of visits in conjunction with Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme.  During the summer term Meadowbrook Primary School had an Ethic of Excellent day which focused on Geography. Over the course of the day pupils would be looking at their local area using current and historical maps.  They would also be given the opportunity to think about how the area might change in the future and how this would look on a map.  Each year group focused on a particular element of the local area.  Year 5’s focus was the local war memorial and the teachers were keen to be supported in this work.  They were delighted to find out from their Local Heritage Education Manager that War Memorials Trust’s Learning Officer would be able to visit and deliver a workshop with both classes.

Our Learning Officer spent the whole morning with year 5 and delivered the same workshop to both classes.  Both sessions were packed full of information, discussion and activities.  Initially pupils were asked to consider what a war memorial is and using their own thoughts and the photographs provided to create a definition.  Close attention was paid to the photographs and discussions took place between individuals and our Learning Officer to draw out what some of the inscriptions meant.  The pupils made some good points which all contributed to the overall definition for a war memorial.

A selection of local war memorials were shown to pupils to highlight the variety of types in the local area.  Particular focus was given to Stoke Gifford war memorial [www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/198779] and the war memorial that pupils were most familiar [www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk/memorial/168173] which was created in 2014.  It was explained to pupils that the town they live in is relatively new and therefore does not have a First or Second World War memorial.  Local scouts and the Community Centre worked together to create a war memorial which is dedicated to all members of our Armed Forces who have died or suffered due to conflict.  They also wanted to create a focal point for future generations to hold Remembrance services.

Pupils were then involved in activities which look at how many war memorials there are in the UK and when they why created.  Pupils looked carefully at some war memorial inscriptions to find out some of the reasons why war memorials were created especially in the wake of World War I.  The problems facing war memorials were highlighted to pupils and linked to local war memorials including one which had received a grant from War Memorials Trust. [www.warmemorials.org/search-grants/?gID=1443]

During the final part of the session pupils were shown how the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ‘Find War Dead’ database could be used to help us learn more about the people named on the war memorial.  Pupils were very successful in finding the relevant record for the people they chose to find out more about and it was clear they thoroughly enjoyed this opportunity.  The research also gave way to discussions about how the local area had changed over time because some of the men named lived in Little Stoke.  Little Stoke is a short distance from Stoke Gifford but having looked at historical maps pupils realised that there was only a couple of houses in Little Stoke at the time.  This led them to surmise that people living in Little Stoke may have travelled to Stoke Gifford and used the local amenities there.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with such enthusiastic and engaged pupils.  The pupils in both classes were fully committed to the activities and discussions as well as listening attentively.  Their comments and questions were thought provoking and they worked incredibly hard to find out about the men named on the Stoke Gifford war memorial.

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