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The way they were

Before their school closed its doors, children at a London primary captured their own history

Ecclesbourne Primary School in the London borough of Islington is no more, but a history of the school published by its pupils will live forever. A year ago, Year 5 and 6 pupils started working with writer-in-residence Stewart Ross to produce a book for the school's closure this summer, when Ecclesbourne merged with Charles Lamb Primary School to form New North Primary.

The caretaker had found an archive in the cellar, including the school's first logbook from 1886, and past pupils such as Birds of a Feather's Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson made good copy. Stewart sent them home at half-term to interview grandparents and neighbours and they came back with more material.

"They learned how to use primary sources, the practicalities of putting a book together, and that to produce something worthwhile you have to plan and re-draft," said Stewart, who specialises in history and current affairs information books. "The project bridged the gap between the classroom and the real world."

He spent 10 days in the school during autumn term 2003 before handing over production to Year 5 teacher Troy Ellison, who said: "At a time when the children were having to think about saying goodbye to the school, it gave them an important sense of making history."

Ecclesbourne, Charles Lamb and Laycock primaries were all funded by the City-based charity The Cripplegate Foundation to produce non-fiction books under the charity's TEXT Writers in Schools project for South Islington.

Contact: Pat Farrington,,

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