Growing Remembrance Project Planning at John Taylor High School, Barton Under Needwood
by Miss Alison Meikle
I have two main aims for the project. Firstly, I want to involve Year 9 students in a demanding
and genuine historical enquiry. It is important that the project will stretch and challenge all
students but particularly the most able. In addition, I am keen to investigate whether the opportunity for students to work collaboratively with the RE, Art and Design and Creative
and Media departments can actually enhance their historical ability.

I have decided to run the project with one of my Year 9 classes: a group I am now teaching for the second consecutive year. I know the students well and they are a highly engaged and motivated group - most of the time! Since we teach History in mixed ability, I will be able to observe how pupils of different abilities respond to the activities. At the start of the year I told the group a little about the project and that they would be doing something a bit different from the rest of Year 9. They are excited about the opportunities they will have over the course of the project – a London Trip, visits from veterans, working with other subject departments and doing some design work. There is certainly a growing sense of competition amongst the group already because they know that fifteen of them will be presenting work at the Arboretum and that they may get to influence future memorial designs. I have found that it is now rare to have any students missing a homework deadline in case it spoils their chances of being involved in some of the project’s activities.

After looking at the focus questions for the enquiry there was one issue that stood out as being particularly exciting. The idea of why some conflicts are commemorated and others ignored is an integral part of the scheme of work and something we wish to make a key focus. This sparked my curiosity because it provides a forum to discuss the very idea of what history is – the notion of history as a construct built by those who write it.

I will be team-teaching some lessons with a member of the RE department to draw out this idea of selective remembrance. In RE lessons students have been studying a War and Peace unit as part of
a GCSE course which they take a year early. Therefore, students will already have thought about broad causes of conflict. We will explore factors such as the role of historians and the media,
the type of war (Civil, Terror, Just etc), the number of deaths, the scale of the conflict, the role of
the UN and treatment of civilians on the likelihood of a conflict being remembered. Students will look at a range of conflicts to test their ideas and look for patterns. These sessions will involve
high order thinking and we will be consulting the Lead Teacher for Philosophy for Children to
help to facilitate this discussion.

Another part of the project that we are keen to highlight is the creative design element.

After a visit from local war veterans and a trip to London to explore memorials, the students will work on a collapsed timetable to design their own memorials with the help of the Art and Design department. This will allow students the time to reflect as part of the creative process.

In addition, Year 9 will also have a chance to learn from older students studying for the Creative
and Media Diploma. Year 12 have studied some examples of conflict and then designed their own memorials as part of their AS course Unit One ‘Capture’.

Year 9 students will challenge the sixth formers to justify their memorials before attempting to persuade the Year 12 students to consider their own designs.

We have been delighted to be involved in the Growing Remembrance Project, especially given the proximity of the National Memorial Arboretum to John Taylor.