WWI Battlefields Trip
Posted 11 July 2008 - 09:45 AM
My HoD is currently mulling over a visit to Ypres and the Somme next summer. The last time a Battlefields trip was run was 2001, when neither myself nor my HoD where at the school. The best proposed dates our department have come up with is 4-5 days away at the end of June/early July.
Has anyone had any problems securing authorisation from SLT? If so, what things did they say to beat you down? What reasons would you suggest to promote such an educational visit DURING term time as opposed to at the end of the year?
Posted 11 July 2008 - 01:15 PM
I find that this personal angle makes all the difference to school battlefield tours. Not only does this enhance the experience for the pupils but, pragmatically, can make the idea easier to sell to SLT with publicity opportunities etc. You can and should , of course, involve pupils in the research. It is amazing what you can find out if you know where to look. Invaluable assistance can be found on Chris Baker's superb 'Long, Long Trail' website which has sections on tracing World War One soldiers and through the good offices of the thousands of members of the Great War Internet Discussion Foum, who have helped me with endless obscure details connected with my annual October half-term school battlefield tours over the years.
Edited by Mark H., 12 July 2008 - 06:54 AM.
Posted 12 July 2008 - 12:31 PM
A few years back (early 1990s), I wrote to the local paper telling them we were visiting the battlefields and cemeteries of the Great War and asked readers to send us details of any relatives buried on the Western Front so we could lay a wreath on their behalf. Two got in touch and we did so and took photographs of the 'ceremony' and the local paper did a feature about the trip when we got back. I went to meet one of the relatives at her home. She was the sister of one of the local men killed, just three weeks before the end of the war. She was five when it happened and still remembered it very clearly into her 80s. I used the story as a preface for a textbook on the war I wrote for OUP.
It was all good publicity for the school and the department, where it matters - in the local community. A year or so later we invited a journalist from the local paper to go with us and got even more good publicity. What sensible SLT would object to that?
Posted 13 July 2008 - 02:37 PM
Posted 13 July 2008 - 03:08 PM
Why don't you ask pupils whether they have any relatives that they have details of who are buried in one of the cemeteries? We do and every year there are at least 2 or 3 who have. The battlefield company we go with the takes them to the grave, we have a short service, lay a wreath and take some pictures. It's very moving and the kids and their families really appreciate. If that doesn't qualify as personalised learning then I don't know what does!
I've done this when going on Battlefields visits too, and can strongly recommend it; also check if any former pupils/staff of your school are buried or commemorated there - pupils find it very moving to see their predecessors' graves.
Posted 14 July 2008 - 08:55 PM
You didn't mention which age group you intent to take. I take year 10 who are,as part of their GCSE, studying WW1 and do an assignments based on the Battle of Somme and Haig. I consequently sell it to SLT/Governors as an exam-related study trip.
I would also promote it as an opportunity for students to develop their 'spiritual' conciousness. As with other respondents to this thread, we trace the story of 'old boys' and teachers of the school who died in the war. Holding a wreath-laying ceremony at Tyne Cot (Passchendaele) to old boys commemorated there is a moving ceremony in anybody's book. Students invariably respond to this in a respectful and dignified manner. You can also request to lay a wreath at the famous Menin Gate (Ypres) daily ceremony.
In my opinion, all students should pay a vist to these sacred sites. Any SMT which refuses must be a hard nosed, uncaring lot!
Posted 14 July 2008 - 09:44 PM
A few tips.
This is a school trip: make them wear uniform. There are practical benefits to this in terms of keeping an eye on them and it encourages a collectivism which the kids rarely experience these days. (It also draws lots of positive comments from other visitors.)
Choose and visit a few former pupils or people from the town who were casualties. This is good for the school and also for the wider community. It's also important that the kids realise that education / school is NOT something that ends at the gate and at 4.00 pm. As has been said, often it's possible to have kids on the trip visiting the grave of a not so distant relative.
Build some form of collective tribute into the trip. You can do this by arrangement at the Menin Gate or at any of the CWGC cemeteries provided you observe the normal decencies. Again IMHO it's all about reminding kids that they are part of a community which owes a debt to these men.
Accept only the very highest standards of behaviour from the kids. Remind them that this is work. They can relax when they are back in the hostel in the evening. (But keep them busy in the evening all the same!) It's always a revelation to me how well the kids behave on these trips. I often wish the "knockers" and cynics could see how well they behave.
(Photo taken at Langemark German cemetery)
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Posted 15 July 2008 - 09:52 AM
Posted 15 July 2008 - 09:56 AM
Edited by louisecoward, 15 July 2008 - 09:57 AM.
Posted 15 July 2008 - 11:49 AM
Make sure you get Murray McVey as your guide; he is brilliant!
Posted 15 July 2008 - 12:44 PM
in the process of organising my third battlefields visit, SLT are usually supportive as long as you try to minimise cover implications by taking support/non teaching staff where you can. Also, consider coming back or leaving on a weekend, they see this as you being willing to give up your own time which goes down well. Perhaps leaving late sunday night, or getting back saturday morning...
NST are excellent - very organised and everything runs very smoothly.
We always wear a school t shirt on the ferry - to keep an eye on them. We only take the best calibre of kids - no muppets allowed, you can also get some excellent publicity for the school by presenting a wreath at the Menin Gate Ceremony, you can book it online and the British Legion do a good category B wreath for about £20.
have a brilliant trip, i have a work booklet for that area if you want to email me and i'll send you a copy.
Posted 16 July 2008 - 10:09 AM
Thinking is SO important Baldrick. What do YOU think?
I think thinking is SO important, my Lord.
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