Year 8s relive battle of 1917

11th July 2008 at 01:00
Battlefields of the First World War were recreated on the football pitches of a Nottingham school last week, as Year 8 pupils enacted one of the bloodiest scenes of modern history

Battlefields of the First World War were recreated on the football pitches of a Nottingham school last week, as Year 8 pupils enacted one of the bloodiest scenes of modern history.

Nearly 200 13-year-olds from the Trinity School, in Aspley, staged a re- enactment of the 1917 battle of Passchendaele, with pupils equipped with gear they had made themselves, bales of hay standing in for the trenches and rope representing barbed wire.

The mock battle last Friday was the culmination of months of preparation, which teachers hoped would help to give the pupils a better appreciation of the sacrifices commemorated on Remembrance Day.

Since January, pupils had been giving up their lunchtimes and breaks to help make fake helmets and weaponry, including a tank, a field gun and machine guns, for the event.

On the day, they were given a talk by First World War expert Jason King, before forming into three army companies for a series of drill exercises. Staff played the role of officers, with sixth formers stepping up as non- commissioned officers.

The battle followed, complete with mock explosions. At its end, only one in 18 pupils was left standing, reflecting the reality of the conflict. A short act of remembrance followed.

Gareth Howell, the history teacher who co-ordinated the day, said this kind of work was essential to bring to life one of the most significant events of the last century.

"I think it's vital that pupils learn about the First World War in depth, as the conflict was so monstrous. It really created the modern world," he said.

"If the war is not taught properly in schools, soon Remembrance Day will not be an act of remembrance at all.

"If pupils just sit in a classroom, reading something out of a textbook, how much do they really remember?

"History has to be active if it is to engage pupils' imagination."

The event, part of a series of activity days for all year groups at the school, will be the basis of follow-up lessons and, later, for coursework when pupils move on to GCSE studies.

The school is selling a video of the day to parents, with all proceeds going to the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal Fund.

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