Two pupils were lucky enough to be selected to take part in a visit to see the battlefields of the First World War.
To commemorate the centenary of World War One, the government offered every school in the country two free pupil places and one staff place to see the First World War battlefields. Leigh-Ann Coley and Sandra Anyaeriuba in Year 10 were chosen to represent Saint Paul’s on this trip due to their fantastic effort and achievement in Key Stage 3 history, they were accompanied by History teacher, Mr Tom Nolan.
During the trip, the pupils were able to immerse themselves in many aspects of the terrible war. They visited several battlefields including the Somme in France and the Ypres Salient in Belgium. They were also given the opportunity to talk to soldiers and compare their experiences to those of the troops in World War 1. On the penultimate night, they went to the Menin Gate for a remembrance service and heard The Last Post. On the final morning, the girls sculpted clay figurines representing people killed in World War 1 which will form part of an art installation comprising millions of figures when it is completed in 2018.
The trip will hopefully be offered to a much larger group of pupils later in the academic year.
“We were able to visit battlefields on the Western Front and to explore the various aspects of the war, its causes and its consequences developing a deeper understanding of the significance of the First World War,” explained Mr Tom Nolan from Saint Paul’s. “Fought as ‘the war to end all wars’, the conflict was the product of tensions which had been building up for decades between Europe’s expansionist imperial powers and ushered in a new era of technological warfare for which neither side was fully prepared. For those pupils studying World War I it can be very difficult to imagine or conceptualise the logistics of this broad and complex conflict. The true nature of the Great War is most easily understood on the battlefields upon which it was fought.
The experience was amazing and we have been able to pass on our experiences and learning to those who did not go on the trip.”
Deputy Headteacher, Mr Russell Paterson, said: “The project will ensure that there is a lasting legacy of this hugely significant period of our nation's history and culture. The pupils have been able to learn, at first hand, about the sacrifices made by individuals and communities to secure our nation and protect our liberty. The bravery and suffering of those who fought in the war must never be forgotten. This tangible experience has reinforced for our pupils what they have learnt in the classroom.”