Vital to keep wartime memories alive say schools that forged links with veterans

YORKSHIRE schools which have invited veterans into the classroom to teach pupils about the First and Second World War have voiced concern that the conflicts might not be a key part of the history curriculum in future.

Concorde Primary School, in Sheffield, and East Ardsley Primary, near Wakefield, have worked with the Keep the Memories Alive campaign which arranges for pupils to meet soldiers who fought in the Second World War to help youngsters understand the subject.

In October, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced that he had asked academic Simon Schama, presenter of the BBC series A History of Britain, to advise Ministers on an overhaul of the curriculum.

Now campaigners are pressing the case for the First and Second World Wars to remain an essential part of primary school pupils' learning.

Gavin Chadwick, a history teacher at Concorde Primary said: "With proposed changes to history teaching on the horizon, many practitioners – including myself – are worried that a key aspect of our country's past may be overlooked. If these changes omit the study of the two world wars, it will impact on children's understanding of key historical changes that have helped shape the world we live in today.

"Local veterans' recent visit to our primary school in Sheffield helped illuminate the impact warfare had on the city the children live in – many of whom have ancestors that served as part of the war effort.

"History was really brought to life and the children's imagination well and truly captured."

East Ardsley Primary has also worked with the Keep the Memories Alive campaign, which is run by tour operator Leger Holidays. Last term Bill Cutler, who is in his 90s, and who took part in the Normandy landings, Sylvia Corby who helped manufacture Lancaster Bombers and Marjorie Farr, who is in her seventies and able to give pupils a child's insight into the war, visited the school.

East Ardsley's head teacher Jane Wedlinsky said: "The change in pupils' interest has been remarkable. They were a lot more responsive than if they had just been reading about it in text books."

She told the Yorkshire Post that speaking to people who experienced the war first hand made the children understand the camaraderie and allowed them to relate to people who were their age during the conflict.