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Year 8 visit the World War One Trenches

Posted on: 22nd Mar 2022

As part of the year 8 curriculum we study The Great War, aka World War One.  Due to covid we have not been able to take any of the students out and about so this trip was particularly special as it was the first time many of the students in year 8 had been on a school trip.  This was evident with the squeals of delight when the shiny double decker coach with kitchen and loo turned up and the children were mesmerised! I’d be lying if I said that for some of the children being on the top deck of what looked like a band tour bus was enough excitement for one day!

We decided to take them to The Kent County Show Ground in Detling, where Andrew Robertshaw from Time Team fame, and his team of super Historians from the Centre for Experimental Archaeology (CEMA), have built a trench system based on a real life Western Front Trench.  The chaps at CEMA are so good at this stuff that that were the guys who did the set for the films 1917 and War Horse.  The students were blown away by how real the trenches were right down the placement of a tin cup for a brew.  Not surprisingly they were fascinated and disgusted in equal measure by the trench latrine, with many questions being asked about this!

We can show films, read book, draw maps and discuss trenches in class but nothing will show our students what life was really like more than taking them down into a real life trench replica with live actors and ex-Army specialist giving the most superb commentary and narration. 

Not only did the students get a snippet of trench life they also had really humorous and engaging mini lectures on ‘Medicine’ on the Western Front, given by Mr Robertshaw whose own grandad was a world war one veteran.  With an array of really cool primary sources which he was more than happy for the children to pass around, again the action of doing and seeing helped solidify the students learning even more.

Students were also given truly interesting talks and shows on ‘Dressing tommy’ and ‘The Homefront’ which again helped inspire a love of learning and a reality which far outweighed how some of the students could access learning in the classroom.

We lucked out on the day as the weather was bright, chilly, sunny and fresh and all the students and teachers had that rugged rosy glow about them!  We ate a huge picnic and the students ran about like children, enjoying the open space and freedom that days out offer.

We very much look forward to taking the next set of year 8s here and can see it becoming a yearly venture.  Well done Andrew and Team and a special well-done to 8 Beech, 8 Cedar and 8 Elder for absolutely exemplary behaviour, inquisitive attitudes and positive vibes the entire day.  Good for you!

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