Their Past, Your Future at Churnet View Middle School
Churnet View Middle School,
Churnet View is a 9-13 Middle school situated in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Thirty children from the Gifted and Talented Groups in all year groups were involved. They worked with Mr. Fred Duffield an ex parachute regiment soldier during the Second World War, Liz Astbury a ceramic artist and David Calcutt a children’s author.
The aims of the project were to make the present generation of children aware of the feelings and emotions of people during the conflict. To help them to empathise with people in the past. To experience from people first hand the kinds of physical and emotional feelings of ordinary people caught up in the war so that they could use this to further their literary and artistic experiences.
In our project there were two distinct parts which involved both practical and written work.
- The children were involved with a ceramic artist to create a fixed memorial celebrating 60 years. They worked with clay creating panels of tiles with significant emblems associated with the war. These images ranged from poppies to doves of peace and were done with a variety of design textures. The work was then dried and each child painted their own tiles making up the wall hanging. This has now been mounted on the wall in a prominent position in the school so that everyone can admire it.
They also created individual pieces to stand alone. These ranged from crosses to individuals interpretation of poppies. The colours used were associated with the feelings and emotions during the conflict.
- Alongside this the children spent time with a well known children’s author David Calcutt. They explored the language, consequences and emotions of war to invoke prose and poetry reflecting these aspects. They were inspired by the author who took them back in time to imagine living during the war and to record their feelings and emotions within themselves and their families.
Prior to both visitors being in school the children took part in a question and answer session after a talk given by Mr. Fred Duffield who was in the parachute regiment during the Second World War. He brought in artefacts to show them and also read some poetry that was written to him during the war.
They were very privileged to work with people who were extremely committed to the project. The children achieved a great deal of knowledge about all aspects of the war through meeting and working with adults having had some experience of the war.
They achieved personal goals through the work that they created which is displayed in a prominent place for all to see giving them a sense of pride in their achievements.
It brought to them another dimension in the way they express their creativity both in clay and with words. They were able to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions through various media.
They gained an increased knowledge of the war and its consequences. Through their literary skills they were able to access language to express feelings and emotions and to appreciate the conditions of soldiers living away from home and fighting in the trenches.
The children achieved a greater sense of pride and understanding of people’s courage in wartime.
Children’s Diary Entries
These were written with the visiting author getting the children to imagine that they were there taking part in the war.
Hi it’s Tom,
Preparing for the war is a blow. You have to wear clean uniforms and everyone is falling apart. People are thinking they are going to die. Me, well I believe in myself and I know I’m going to survive this but what if I don’t? What if I do die? Would it destroy my parents? Probably!
The girls are always crying especially Daisy she is a nurse and has to look after all the injured people and she feels really sorry for them. Olivia on the other hand is feeling very strong and is completely ready for this and believes in herself. I really like her but she doesn’t do relationships. Oh well!
Luckily I’m short and this is to my advantage when I am fighting. That’s why the sergeant picked me for the team. We will be protecting the town of Leek tomorrow when the big attack starts and there will be no stopping until everyone is dead in one of the teams.
Olivia. Year 6.
I am afraid that this may be my last night on earth and as your daughter! Tomorrow I go into battle against the opposing army. I’m scared even though I know I shouldn’t be. Now, as I’m sitting here in this lonely cabin staring at the barren walls, their paint peeling slowly in front of me, the door creaking on its old brass hinges. I can hear the other soldiers celebrating their last night enjoying themselves shouting and laughing. I do not feel like laughing as I know I will never see your faces again! I only hope my death will not be in vain. All I wanted you to know is that I love you and I want you all to keep safe. Also, if we lose this battle I want you to hide and not let the other army find you.
I can taste fear, the fear of Death!
Lauren Year 6.