Our first official tour departed on 16th May 2014 with 27 schools from East London and Essex in attendance.
Two coaches arrived into the Ashford based Kingswood centre, for an action packed overnight stay which included teambuilding activities for the 54 Year 8, 9 and 10 students, a pre-tour educational programme for the 27 teachers and a combined teacher/student historical enquiry session with the help of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s extensive records database and access to ancestry.co.uk.
Then it was across to Ypres the following morning, with three days spent exploring the cemeteries, museums, memorials and battlefield sites of Belgium and The Somme. A number of key sites were visited, with a focus, wherever possible, on soldiers within the Essex and London-based regiments.
The tour was accompanied by serving soldiers from the British Army, who were able to help students understand what remembrance means today. Representation from the Guild of Battlefield Guides provided another thought-provoking perspective, and the use of digital technology facilitated a different learning angle.
A wealth of personal stories relating to the First World War were uncovered as a result of this tour. Two students located relatives that had served and died and one of these soldiers, Corporal Albert Pritchett, is commemorated on the Menin Gate and was featured in subsequent Sky News coverage.
“The tour was excellent and yes I am enthused and inspired to make sure that we mark the centenary in an appropriately high profile way. I know the students gained enormously from it too. It was superbly well organised and led.”
Wesley Menlove, Francis Bardsely Academy for Girls
“I really enjoyed the trip and now have some excellent ideas for teaching WWI. We are also going to participate in a community project so I will be in touch. Also, I would like to look into being one of the teacher ambassadors for the project.”
Mylene Duke, Warren School
“My students have gained a far greater understanding of events of the war and a further appreciation of what happened. They have approached and learnt from a different perspective. They have deeper knowledge and appreciation that there were two sides – an aspect that is sometimes forgotten.”
Charlotte Hopwood, St Angela’s Ursuline School