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St John's Catholic Comprehensive School, Kent

Windmill Hill war memorial, Kent © David Larkin, 2013
Officer speaking to pupils at St John's Catholic Comprehensive School © War Memorials Trust, 2015
Book developed as part of St John's Catholic Comprehensive School's project © War Memorials Trust, 2015
  • County name: Kent
  • Group/School name: St John's Catholic Comprehensive School, Kent
  • Age group: 11 - 18
  • Group type:

War Memorials Trust was contacted by St John’s Catholic Comprehensive School in May 2015. The school was keen to work with the Trust on two events. The first was the school’s commemorations of the end of World War II. Pupils in Years 7 to 9 had been focusing on this and the school planned to hold a History Day with various speakers coming in to help pupils better understand the war and its impact. The second was a Careers Day for Year 9 pupils, at which War Memorials Trust was asked to speak to pupils about careers in the heritage sector.

The Trust’s Learning Officer spent two days at the school in June. The first was for the History Day and she worked with three groups of pupils during a workshop about war memorials. This included explaining what war memorials are and their general history – when many of them were created and why, the different types of war memorials there are and what some of the different war memorial designs symbolise. The workshop also showed pupils some examples of problems facing war memorials and taught them about War Memorials Trust’s work by explaining how some of these problems were resolved and how we supported this through our grant schemes. During the rest of the day pupils also worked with local veterans, the RAF and other organisations with links to various aspects of World War II.

The following day we returned to the school to take part in a careers advice day for Year 9. This is outside what War Memorials Trust usually offers to schools but it was great to be involved in hopefully inspiring the next generation of people to work in the heritage sector! Our talk to pupils explained what War Memorials Trust does and the different types of jobs within the charity – fundraising, education, conservation and administration. For each of these we also explained some of the different routes into these jobs staff had taken and it was interesting to see how diverse the backgrounds of the staff at War Memorials Trust are.

On both days we were really impressed by the behaviour and interest of the pupils involved in our sessions. It was also fascinating to see and hear about a local war memorial project the school’s History department has been involved in.

Pupils from the school have been researching the names on the war memorials around the Borough of Gravesham and their work is comprehensively documented in a book produced with support from the local History Society and others within the community. The book, shown in the photo above, is the first of what will eventually be five volumes and tells the stories of the people named on the Windmill Hill war memorial ( It also explains the memorial’s history how it was designed and eventually unveiled in 1922. Reading through the book it is clear how much work has gone into producing it and the school is, rightly, proud of the achievements of those who have been involved. War Memorials Trust congratulates the school on their work and looks forward to hearing more about the project as it progresses.

War Memorials Trust was delighted to be contacted by the school again in May 2017 and invited to lead some focus sessions about war memorials as part of the Year 7 History Day in the summer term. The theme for the History Day was World War I.  War Memorials Trust was one of a number of speakers including WWII veterans, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Andrew Robertshaw who worked with pupils on the day to give them a broad understanding of World War I.  War Memorials Trust's Learning Officer worked with two groups of Year 7 pupils during the focus sessions on war memorials.  These sessions covered the work of War Memorials Trust, what a war memorial is, why they were created particularly after World War I, the problems they face now and how pupils could help to conserve and protect war memorials.  When looking at what a war memorial is, all the examples shared with the pupils were within a 10 mile radius of the school.  It was wonderful to see pupils recognising some of these and sharing their thoughts and experiences of them in a respectful and sensitive manner.

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