July 2014 marks 100 years since the start of World War One, and much effort is being made to educate the younger generation on the 20th Century’s first great conflict. I remember, from quite an early age, having a fascination with WW2, but knowing very little about The Great War. Twelve months ago, David Cameron said “Our duty with these commemorations is clear. To honour those who served. To remember those who died. And to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us forever.”
I attended Armistice Day memorial services every year, standing solemnly at the Cenotaph in my Brownie uniform and poppy, saying prayers for fallen soldiers. My grandfather served in the Second World War, but I had nobody in my life who had seen or survived World War One.
The last WW1 veteran, Florence Green died at age 110 in February 2012 and so, who is left to teach us about the atrocities and horrors of The Great War?
This year, the DfE has part funded a multi-million pound project allowing school pupils to visit the battlefields of World War One. The tours will run right up until 2019 and over a thousand schools have signed up so far.
The scheme is being run by The Institute of Education and STS School Travel Service to commemorate the centenary of the First World War and will give children the chance to visit such sites as The Somme and Passchendaele as a legacy of the conflict. They will be able to see, first hand, the very fields where over half a million soldiers lost their lives.
TheSchoolBus will be covering the centenary over the coming months and you can find more information about The WW1 Battlefields Project in its own dedicated section on the sitehttp://www.theschoolbus.net/governance/topics/ww1-battlefields-project/318/. There is still time to register your interest and give your pupils the chance to develop a personal connection to the First World War.
Alongside the WW1 Centenary Battlefield Project, this week, the department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced the “Great War in Portraits” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery which will run from 27 Feb -15 Jun 2014 which will “help young people in particular make sense of what happened and its profound impact on everything that came after”. For more information, take a look at this link.
The exhibit will show a whole range of portraits of people who lived and died during The Great War. There will be portraits of heroes alongside prisoners of war and those executed for cowardice, as well as casualties from the front and people disfigured by wounds.
How is your school planning the mark the centenary? Join the discussion on Twitter @_TheSchoolBus #WW1Memories.