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Dip into the Pathe's archive of historic broadcasts. Emily Clark reports

Images of plume-hatted colonial governors in the tropical sun and bombs falling on London during the Blitz are the trademark of the Pathe News broadcasts - as are the strangulated vowels of the commentators.

The service captured all the main news events of the 20th- century from Queen Victoria's death, through to the early days of space exploration. It also detailed the lives of ordinary Britons at work and play.

Now the archive, dating from 1895 to 1970, is available directly to schools. Any school with a broadband internet connection has access to the images on the National Education Network. They can view, download and edit the pictures. Among the 12 million images available are Eton College boys triumphing over a group of unemployed miners on a snow-covered football pitch in Bishop Auckland nearly 70 years ago.

Exercise displays were among the incentives to improve pupils' fitness revealing that health issues were as much a concern in the 1930s as they are today. Other controversial education policies and practices include the introduction of open-air lessons and raising the school-leaving age to 15 in 1947.

Marshall Mateer, co-ordinator of RBCPathe, said: "There have been continuing themes through the century such as exercise, housing, changes in population, immigration, conflict and violence. Teachers are glad of the freedom to choose resources for their own purposes rather than abide by pre-selected curriculum material."

Fair Field junior, in Radlett, Hertfordshire, is one of 33 schools already using the resource.

Caroline Cuerden, deputy head, involved a class of 11-year-olds in a project on evacuees.

The pupils composed letters as if they were evacuees and then recorded and attached their stories to a montage of pictures.

Mrs Cuerden said: "The children's enthusiasm has been astonishing. They have voted to do another project. The work we produced looks as if this is a very wealthy or specialist school.

"This resource will be particularly useful in the primary curriculum because it is the perfect way to blend subjects like music, reading, history and media."

Fifteen packs available on the network provide ideas for lessons on themes such as the Titanic, housing and the conflict in Iraq.

Further details can be found on the National Education Network or on www.britishpathe.com

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