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Jubilee will be a golden moment

Despite the distractions of the World Cup, many schools are buzzing with royalist fervour. Adi Bloom reports

IN a nation gripped by World Cup fever, schools are working hard to remind pupils of another national event.

"We have jubilee mugs and commemorative coins to give the children," said John Bryant, head of Nutfield primary, in Redhill, Surrey. "We've given it due weight, but we've not gone overboard. I have a feeling there's greater excitement about the World Cup."

There will be no government-issued jubilee mug, as in 1977. But many schools believe that the occasion merits a commemorative token, and will order or produce one themselves.

And with street parties thinner on the ground than 25 years ago, some schools are organising their own. Jubilee week at Hugglescote primary, in Leicestershire, ends in a playground party, complete with bunting and national anthem.

"What we've done is taken the street-party philosophy that some of us experienced during the Silver Jubilee, and brought it into the school," said Colin Dawson, the head. During jubilee week, his pupils will learn about the Queen and her reign. Maths lessons will use money which bears the Queen's likeness; history lessons will focus on the monarchy; the literacy hour will be filled with tales of queens and princes.

If Hugglescote is typical, then there are still plenty of young royalists. "She isn't as spoiled as you'd think: if she had anything you needed, like a bit of money, she'd give it to you," said 11-year-old Jade Edward. Alistair Dodds, 11, also mentions the Queen's importance in motivating troops in time of war as they depart for battle zones such as Kosovo. But it is her role in preserving the heritage of the nation that pupils believe to be her most significant contribution. "If she wasn't Queen, they would knock down the royal castles and palaces and Westminster Abbey to build other things, because they wouldn't need them," Alistair said.

At Millbank primary in London, pupils will watch a 1953 Pathe news reel of the coronation, before a 1952-themed street party, complete with the jam on toast that brightened up the ration era. Other schools have chosen to make the jubilee a lesson in geography: pupils at Belle Vue primary, in Stourbridge, for example, ate their jubilee picnic to the strains of Bhangra.

Some staff report that moving the half-term holiday has disrupted some pupils' education as parents booked cheap holidays last year a week too early.

Teachers will not miss the jubilee holiday, even though it falls in half term. The Government has advised local authorities to give them an extra holiday at the end of term.

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