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TES Millennium Frieze

Gerald Haigh looks at how your class can make a time line of the past 1,000 years.

The new TES Millennium Frieze is likely to become a familiar sight in schools as 1999 draws to a close.

Free with every issue of TES Primary until January 2000, each 814mm panel of the frieze will build by the beginning of the year 2000 into an almost nine metre-long celebration of the past 1,000 years, taking us from the arrival of the Normans in Britain and the building of Notre-Dame Cathedral, through to the Renaissance, the Industrial Revolution and the Art Deco images of the 1920s and 1930s, right up to - and beyond - the present.

Walk along the frieze and you will meet people who changed the world. Walk along it again and you may look at places instead. Then you may walk along it again to look for people, events and places you know to be important but have not spotted. And you may not find them , because they have been left out. You may be disappointed, even angry, at this.

A little reflection, though, will remind you that all representations of history, from books to films, take their content from an almost infinite number of possibilities. Ours is just one of many possible millennium friezes.

To emphasise this, we will soon be launching a competition inviting schools to create their own friezes representing the past 1,000 years.

The competition is intended to underline our aim that the TES Millennium Frieze should not be a static resource, but a way of encouraging children to use all the originality and lateral thinking they are capable of. The adult view of the past is one thing. Children may have other ideas. They may want to place more emphasis on their own regional, ethnic or religious communities. They might want to concentrate on sport, music or conservation. A child's view of the past will be very different from ours.

As you work with your pupils, you'll have to help them realise - as we did - that they will have to make choices. There were some hard decisions to be made, and you will have to make them too.

In studying the issues with your pupils, and in trying to decide what to leave out (because that is what it comes down to) you will be giving them a real insight into the way that the story of the past is written.

Details of how to enter the TES Millennium Frieze competition will appear in TES Primary on February 26.

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