Primary schools pupils across Scotland are set to turn detective to uncover the real life stories of war heroes named on their local war memorial.
P6 and P7 pupils will get the chance to talk to living relatives of war heroes, present their findings to veterans from across Scotland, add their research to a national online archive and winners get a tour and overnight stay on board an original Royal Navy War Ship and floating war museum in London.
The Scottish Primary School War Memorial competition launched today will see hundreds of schools investigating stories of fallen soldiers and tracing their families in their local area. Pupils and schools who take part will go on a journey back in time as they discover facts about their local community and research stories of war veterans from as far back as World War One.
The Royal British Legion Scotland, the country’s biggest veterans’ charity, called on primary schools across Scotland to enter as it launched the competition as part of its ‘Voices of Veterans’ campaign to commemorate the start of World War One in the countdown to the centenary in 2014.
Newburgh Primary school in Fife where pupils won the inaugural competition is supporting the competition by urging schools to sign up. Head Teacher Susan Mitchell said,
“Winning the war memorial competition opened many opportunities for the pupils. As a result of their research they spoke to living relatives of local boys and former pupils of the school, killed in action at just 19. After the presentation to veterans at the Royal British Legion Scotland and stay on the HMS Belfast in London they were invited to Italy to help commemorate the Anzio landings.
“That trip to Italy made it all very personal for them, especially the story of the twins who died. They also won a community award presented at the Scottish Parliament and Friends of the Forces. And to this day we still have a choir that sings at Remembrance events. Because of the competition pupils learned about history as young citizens of their local community. The experience is something that has really stayed with the pupils and with us as a school.”
Kevin Gray, CEO of the Royal British Legion Scotland said, “The competition is about getting children and young people to engage with their history and learn about their war memorial heritage. It’s a unique opportunity for children to develop a wide range of skills, from their understanding of history to research, literacy, IT, as well as the expressive arts.
“And through visits to memorials and working with other organisations, pupils also get the chance to develop strong community links. Through this annual competition we have found young people get a lot out of learning about their war memorial history. And it instils a sense of citizenship.”
Pupils will be able to submit their research to an online archive of war memorials to help the War Memorials Trust find out about the condition of memorials and help preserve and protect them. Each entry will also help the Imperial War Museum to catalogue war memorials across Scotland.
One lucky winning school will be chosen from regional winners with the star prize up for grabs a trip for ten pupils to London to tour and sleep on board World War Two warship HMS Belfast on the Thames. Pupils from the winning school will present their winning entry to veterans from across Scotland.
Nick Morgan from Education Scotland said, “The Scottish Primary School War Memorial Competition is a great learning opportunity for pupils, and an example of how a well designed project can really enrich the learning experience. As part of the research children will be able to bring history to life, increasing their knowledge of the local community and the impacts of the First World War.
“At the same time they will also be developing their literacy and ICT skills, and drawing on a range of expressive arts to present their work. The competition will also be a great way to develop their creativity, team work and foster a sense of citizenship.”
To enter pupils need to research a local war memorial within the school’s area and find out as much information as they can about the servicemen and women, the battles they were in and the stories of their service. Their findings can be presented in any multi-media format and could include images, artwork, poems, songs – the sky’s the limit. Winning entries will be promoted on the Royal British Legion Scotland’s website.
Full details of the competition, a teachers’ pack and the terms and conditions can be found on the Royal British Legion’s new website at http://rblscotland.com/school
For more information about the wider ‘Voices of Veterans’ campaign visit http://rblscotland.com/news-events/voices-of-veterans