Skip to main content

Bringing historical conflicts to life

HISTORY is a passion for headteacher Angela Piddock.

"Often it is very badly taught," she said. "We need to look at how we engage children. It is very important that people understand the history of this country, wherever they come from."

Of the 420 children in her school - Wilberforce primary, in Westminster, London - 80 per cent have English as an additional language. In an attempt to widen the history curriculum, Years 2 and 6 pupils took part in lessons devised by educationist Hilary Claire, senior history lecturer at the University of North London.

Year 2 pupils looked at three significant people, black aviator Bessie Coleman, Ruby Bridges, who went to an integrated school during the American black civil rights movement, and Frederick Douglass, a slave who escaped to become an important figure in the abolition movement.

Teachers and Ms Claire dressed up as Bessie, Ruby and Frederick, using role play to introduce them to the children.

The older children tackled issues such as racism with help from visitors who talked to the 10 and 11-year-olds about their own childhoods. One had been a refugee from Nazi Germany, and the other had arrived in Britain from the Caribbean in the 1950s.

Ms Piddock said: "Their stories were very moving. I think the history curriculum underestimates children's ability to take in complex and challenging issues."

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you