Partnership learning and commemoration

The third joint Mount and Millthorpe Schools visit to the First World War battlefields of Ypres and the Somme has been a great success. We have never had so many students with personal connections to this part of the Western Front on one battlefields tour. Our guide, Kate Brennan, skilfully wove the stories of the lives of these individual men and their families into the overall 1914-18 narrative. This helped us all to make a very personal connection with a vast, complex conflict. We were also helped by Clements Hall Local History Group, who had provided us with information about local York men on the Thiepval memorial to the missing of the Somme battlefield. Students were keen to read the stories and to find the names of men who went to school near Bishopthorpe Road and who lived in the streets around our schools. On Saturday we used tours of Lijssenhoek, Tyne Cot and Langemarck cemeteries, the Passendaele Museum and the Menin Gate to understand how and why fighting took place in the Ypres Salient. Amy Foster joined the wreath laying party at the Menin Gate daily ceremony on behalf of both schools at the end of our first day. The Somme battlefield was the focus of day two. We reconstructed the advance of the Pals at Serre Road, learnt about the archaeology at Thiepval Wood and held our own silent commemoration at Thiepval, where Marie Denis helped to lay a wreath of red and white poppies. The girls said the whole trip really brought back to life the people who fought in the War. They described it as overwhelming, inspirational and eye-opening. We have noticed that their GCSE answers are more informed. Learning alongside students from another school was very popular, and the girls enjoyed getting to know the Millthorpe students. Both the way we organise our Battlefields visits and the content of them is designed to support what we do at The Mount to encourage girls to understand past conflicts in order to be more effective in shaping a peaceful future. À la prochaine!


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