Why David Cameron and a teacher from Fraserburgh have not forgotten

MY RESPONSE TO AN ARTICLE WRITTEN IN THE GLASGOW HERALD ON 15TH OCTOBER 2012.

I would back Kay Barnett’s assertion that we must ensure Scots students are able to take part in nationwide plans to visit and learn from the battlefields of France and Flanders (Herald, 15th October).

Many pupils choose history because the subject is well taught, gets good results, is enjoyable and offers the chance of foreign travel on school trips to the battlefields of France and Flanders. These trips teach pupils much about themselves, working with others in a very different overseas environment, seeing another culture and experiencing first-hand the causes and impact of conflict. Battlefield trips deepen their desire to see a world free of war and to see more of the world.

When the new National Qualifications for history were published many were surprised to see that the Great War did not feature except the study of the Home Front during the 1914-1918 conflict.  However, this has given all S1-S3 students the chance to take part in detailed study of the causes, courses and consequences of a conflict that still leaves it mark on the geopolitical make up and social tensions that exist in Europe and the World today.  Hopefully the Scottish Government will make a pledge similar to that of David Cameron and look to extend the opportunity for battlefield field studies to Scottish school students. The year 2014 will be an important year for Scotland and the government must ensure that it does what it can to make sure Scottish students are engaged in both major historic anniversaries.  Funding to ensure Scottish students can benefit from outdoor learning and visits to Bannockburn will be essential as will any support that can facilitate student visits to France and Flanders.  With Scottish citizens 60+ able to enjoy the benefits of free bus travel perhaps it is time to look into free bus travel for those under 18 who are embarked on learning experiences.  This would open our country to learners, open their horizons and open aspirations to travel and find our more about our rich cultural heritage.

Actual experience of both battlefields will deepen students’ cultural understanding and also heighten their awareness of the horrors of war and conflict whilst making them our best advocates for future peace.  If history education combined with appropriate outdoor learning opportunities in 2014 can achieve that then it will be a wise educational and societal investment.

THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND HERE: http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/education/scots-backing-for-pupils-to-tour-great-war-battlefields.19135029

Scots backing for pupils to tour Great War battlefields

Brian Beacom
Senior Features Writer

DAVID Cameron’s ambitious plan to take schoolchildren to visit the battlefields of the First World War has been backed by the convener of Scotland’s largest teaching union.

DAVID Cameron’s ambitious plan to take schoolchildren to visit the battlefields of the First World War has been backed by the convener of Scotland’s largest teaching union.

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LEST WE FORGET: David Cameron is planning a £50m First World War commemoration project including trips for schoolchildren to the Western Front.
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Brian Beacom

Kay Barnett said there was educational and social value in sending delegations of pupils to the Western Front to visit the graves of those who died in Belgium and France.

The Prime Minister last week revealed plans for a “truly national” commemoration of the outbreak of the conflict, 100 years on, in 2014.

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The £50 million project will include money for schoolchildren in England to make trips to battlefield sites.

He said every part of the UK should recognise the sacrifices made by those who laid down their lives in the conflict.

In addition to a day of remembrance on August 4 to mark the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of the war, Armistice Day (November 11, 1918) will be commemorated and major battles of the conflict will be remembered at various dates between 2014 to 2018.

Ms Barnett said: “In terms of history teaching it would be a valuable opportunity to give schoolchildren experience in this historical context

“I think it would be appro-priate to our Curriculum For Excellence, which is very much about making education interesting and interactive.

“What I also think is good about the plan is that pupils would come to understand both the detail and the con-sequences of war, and from that position will perhaps think more about their responsibilities as young citizens.”

The senior history teacher at Fraserburgh Academy believes the First World War education plan could work as “an enhancement of what history teachers do at the moment”.

He said: “There are pupils who will be studying these issues already and hopefully they will benefit from such a trip, it will give them a stronger relationship with the past.”

However, the convener said she wanted to look closely at the detail of Mr Cameron’s £50m plan. “First of all, we want to be sure the Prime Minister is considering sending Scots kids to the battlefields. We’d hate to think the plan was only drawn up for those south of the Border. And while this idea has real educational value, we would expect that it’s about education for peace. We wouldn’t want to see the idea dressed up in the Union Jack.”

War veterans charity Gardening Leave has already argued that “perhaps more consideration [funding] should be given to those alive today”, and Ms Barnett also weighs up the argument that it may be better to invest £50m in children’s futures, funding schools, teachers and more social history.

“As education convener I am aware that education in Scotland is under attack and we need to keep on demanding education is funded, so teachers can teach,” she maintained.

“But I don’t want to set one thing against another here. We’ll be looking at this proposal separately. We’ll look closely at the detail, to make sure it’s not about a plan to take people’s minds off the recession or whatever, that it’s not political.

“But that said, the plan to send pupils to the battlefields could really help in the learning about the reasons for war, and how relationships between nations have been formed.”

Last week, Mr Cameron said it would be a “commemoration that captures our national spirit in every corner of the country, from our schools and workplaces, to our town halls and local communities”. He com-pared the events in scale to this year’s street parties to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

The Scottish Government has said the contribution of soldiers should “never be forgotten”.

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About neilsgleeeclub

Educator, writer, speaker and leader. Views are my own and not those of the organisations I work for or represent.
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