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The Granville School, Sevenoaks 2018

year 6 pupil from The Granville School, Sevenoaks designing a war memorial cross © War Memorials Trust, 2018
War memorial bell design by year 6 pupils from The Granville School, Sevenoaks © War Memorials Trust, 2018
Year 6 pupils from The Granville School, Sevenoaks designing a war memorial ©  War Memorials Trust, 2018
  • County name: Kent
  • Group/School name: The Granville School
  • Age group: 5 - 11
  • Group type: Year 6

Following a successful visit in November 2017, the history teacher at The Granville School organised a repeat visit for November 2018.  The year 6 pupils study a topic on Remembrance during the autumn term.  One of the main focuses of this topic is the war memorial in Sevenoaks which the girls visit and carry out a condition survey for.  The history teacher uses War Memorials Trust’s lesson plans throughout the topic. The half day visit from WMT’s Learning Officer towards the end of the topic draws everything the girls have learnt to a conclusion and allows them to explore war memorial designs.

The visit began with pupils being asked to create a mind map to show what they already know about war memorials.  Some questions were shown to prompt discussion and encourage them to share key facts.  The pupils came up with a wide range of information which they then shared, including:

  • there are 100,000 war memorials in the UK
  • they were created because the fallen were “buried overseas so (relatives) couldn’t visit”
  • each town wanted their memorial to be different and unique
  • they are for the people who served in the war so we can remember them
  • they can be anywhere
  • for the public
  • the money for the war memorials was donated.

Pupils recognised that war memorials “can be anything” including bus stops, hospitals, pavilions, plaques, statues and gates.

Further discussion took place around when war memorials were created to reinforce that the majority were created following the end of the First World War.  However there are war memorials that were created earlier than this time, including the Seven Years War (1756-1763) obelisk in Sevenoaks, and others that have been created more recently.

Following comments along the lines of “the soldiers who died were not transported back to England”, pupils were shown images of Commonwealth War Graves Cemeteries in France and Israel and Palestine.  Two men named on the Sevenoaks war memorial, Lance Corporal E J Wilkins and Private Henry Terry, were buried in these cemeteries.  Pupils were able to understand the obstacles which may have faced the families of these men who would have wanted to visit their graves.

In small groups pupils were given collections of photographs of war memorials including some from the local area which they were asked to sort according to types.  Titles for groupings included crosses, plaques, buildings, statues and pillars.  Further details about the local war memorials within each category were then shared with pupils.

A selection of war memorials printed on large sheets of paper were then laid out around the room.  In groups, pupils began at one image and then after a short amount of time moved onto the next one, like a carousel. For each image they were asked to look at and label some of the key design features.  Symbols identified included wreathes, soldiers, crosses, Victory, a dove for peace, broken pillar symbolising lives were cut short and a cenotaph.  Following the carousel activity, the key symbols were shared and embellished upon if required.

Before embarking on their own war memorial designs, war memorial inscriptions were shared and discussed with pupils.  They were familiar with some including the Ode of Remembrance and the Kohima Epitaph.  Pupils were then set the task of designing their own unique war memorial.  They were also asked to label or write a short explanation to explain why they had made the choices they had about their design and included the symbols.  Each design varied, they ranged from brides to crosses, statues to stain glass windows and even a bell.  A huge amount of thought and care went into them.  The reasons behind including certain symbols were very well thought out, for example “a clock to show the passing of time” and “it is in the countryside so they can rest in peace”.  After many of the girls had completed their designs they took part in a table top gallery so they could their peers’ work.

The session concluded with information about some of the men named on Sevenoaks war memorial being shared with pupils.  One of the men was killed at the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle during the Great War, another is likely to have been killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme while a third lived on London Road, which is just a 10 minute walk from the school.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with the year 6 pupils at The Granville School.  They had clearly developed a great understanding of war memorials during the course of their topic on Remembrance which they were able to reflect on and use to create some fantastic war memorial designs.

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