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Moorside Primary School in Swinton, Greater Manchester

  • County name: Greater Manchester
  • Group/School name: Moorside Primary School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Whole School

Following a recommendation from another school in the local area, War Memorials Trust were contacted by the History Coordinator at Moorside Primary School to arrange a visit from our Learning Officer.  The school were commemorating the centenary of the armistice throughout November by having a whole school project and also delivering two performances.  Following some initial discussions it was decided that WMT’s Learning Officer would deliver two assemblies: one for key stage 1 and one for key stage 2 followed by a workshop with pupils in year 5.

The assembly for key stage 1 began by looking at special days which the pupils shared with friends and family.  This led on to a discussion about Remembrance Day.  It was highlighted to pupils that Remembrance Day 2018 would be particularly special as it would be 100 years since the end of the First World War.  As a result of the school project many of the pupils were aware of this significance.  It was noted that on the first anniversary of the end of the war in 1919, people marked the day by remembering those who had been killed with a two minute silence and that this tradition has continued to the present day.  It was explained to pupils that the fallen from the First World War were not buried at home but instead near the battlefields where they fell.  This resulted in the creation of many war memorials. Some local memorials were shown including the Men of Swinton First World War memorial lychgate ( which some of the classes had visited recently.

Key stage 2’s assembly looked to answer the key question ‘Why is Remembrance Day on 11th November?”  In order to do this events which took place from July 1918 through to 11th November 1918 were shared with pupils by way of a timeline.  Pupils were asked to consider the reaction of people at home when they heard the news of the Armistice.  An image showing some of the celebrations which took place was shown.  The events which followed in subsequent years were then shared with pupils including the Paris Peace Conference which led to the Treaty of Versailles, the Peace Day celebrations in July 1919, the unveiling of the permanent Cenotaph in Whitehall and the body of the Unknown Warrior being reburied at Westminster Abbey.  It was also highlighted that during this time local communities began to discuss ways in which to remember and commemorate the fallen.  An example of a local man, Captain Reginald Victor Rylands, who was buried in a cemetery in Turkey was shared with pupils to highlight the difficulty families may encounter when trying to visit the grave of a loved one.  A small selection of local war memorials were shown to pupils to highlight that each community made individual decisions about the design and location of their war memorial.  The assembly ended by returning to the key question and pupils were able to share some detailed reasons about why Remembrance Day is on 11th November.

The rest of the day was spent working with the three year 5 classes who each received a session on what are war memorials.  The session began with pupils looking at a range of war memorial images in order to create a definition for a war memorial.  These were then shared with the rest of the class and added to by WMT’s Learning Officer where necessary to provide pupils with a sound understanding.  Images of local war memorials were displayed and talked about with pupils.  This served to highlight the variety of designs selected by local communities.  The number of war memorials in the UK, when war memorials were created and why was discussed.  Another example of a local man, Second Lieutenant Marmaduke Beckford Sellon, was shared with pupils.  Second Lieutenant Sellon was buried in a cemetery in Italy.  His gravestone has the inscription “Too far away thy grave to see but not too far to think of thee”.  Pupils found this quite touching and it really helped them to understand the fact that the fallen were not repatriated.  The session finished with a quick quiz which pupils were very enthusiastic about and also demonstrated how much they had learnt during the session.

The day spent at Moorside Primary School was a very enjoyable one.  Pupils in both assemblies and in the class based sessions were brilliant.  The work that the school had done about the First World War centenary was evident through the answers that the pupils gave and also the interest they showed in their local war memorials.  It is hoped that this interest will remain with many of the pupils so that the war memorials in Swinton and the surrounding area continue to be cared for by future generations.

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