Students From Oulder Hill Community School Return From The Western Front With Stories To Tell.
On 11th February 2015 two students and one teacher from Oulder Hill Community School returned from a unique education programme and battlefield tour in Belgium and Northern France run by UCL Institute of Education (IOE) and Equity, school tour provider. The First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme, funded by the Department for Education and
the Department for Communities and Local Government, is designed to help teachers and students from every state funded school in England teaching Key Stage 3 and/or 4 to develop a deeper understanding of the Great War. Students from Oulder Hill Community School as well as 15 other schools joined a four-day tour to the Western Front accompanied by UCL IOE and Equity staff, professional battlefield guides and serving soldiers. During the tour the students attended The Last Post Ceremony in Ypres, which takes place under the Menin Gate every single night of the year. Here buglers of the Ypres volunteer Fire Brigade sound the ‘Last Post’ before a minute’s silence to reflect on the sacrifice of those lost. The group also visited museums, battlefield sites, memorials and cemeteries including the Commonwealth War Grave sites of Tyne Cot Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium and Thiepval Memorial in the Somme, France. Going out to the battlefields and seeing the landscape and the history of the war made it easier for students to visualise the scale of the war and the lives lost. It was very moving when Lois Wrest and Maria Asif of the school, visited the graves of two local Rochdale soldiers who died in the First World War. Second Lieutenant Gilbert Verity died on 31st July 1917 aged 21 and is buried in Lijssenthoek Cemetery. Private Seth Royds died on the same day aged 20 and is buried at Tyne Cot. Both men belonged to the Lancashire Fusiliers. Of their visit, Lois said: “I think the battlefields trip was a memorable and worthwhile experience. It allowed me to put figures into perspective and made me realise how important the remembrance of soldiers is. I am so thankful for having this opportunity. I think this is a trip everyone should experience.” “The centenary project has provided students and teachers with a wonderful and perhaps once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Rebecca Tarran, Teaching and Learning Director of Humanities at Oulder Hill Community School. “Many students or staff may never return to these places; others may make pilgrimages with their families. The act of remembrance is just as important for people to make a hundred years on; to realise the loss and tragedy that war can bring and the effect on a nation.” On their return to school students have embarked on a Legacy 110 project. This project encourages students to share their experiences of visiting the battlefield sites of the Western Front through developing post tour community projects. Lois and Maria intend to deliver assemblies both in school and in primary schools and are hoping to lead this year’s commemoration of remembrance in November. In return, the pupils will receive certificates, badges and the best projects will get national recognition through the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme website and special events designed to celebrate their achievements.