Feedback WW1 Enrichment Week

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Dear Steve,

I would like to thank you for arranging a fantastic World War I experience for students at Wilmington Grammar School for Boys.

Through a unique combination of in-school and off-site activities: a living history workshop, a visit to the National Army Museum and a trip to the battlefields of the Ypres Salient region, the aims of the World War I Enrichment Experience have, unquestionably, been fulfilled. All students on this experience have a full understanding of what life was like for soldiers on the Western Front and can appreciate the historical significance of the Great War. Perhaps most importantly, this experience has given students the opportunity to work with historical materials obtained from national archives, allowing them to learn the ‘craft’ of a historian.

Throughout this entire week, learning has continually been developed and built upon. Although the subject matter of the experience is sombre, students have enjoyed themselves, whilst becoming effective, independent learners. Importantly, the activities you have devised for this week have helped to put the First World War into a context that students of all ages can relate to. In particular, in tailoring the experience to the Wilmington area, students have learnt about the role played by local men in the Great War, thereby humanising what remains a destructive and dehumanising conflict.

This experience has been extremely succesful and I would highly recommend it to others. It has been a pleasure to work with you during this week and I look forward to collaborating on future projects.

Yours Faithfully,

Mr B. Slight

Learning is at the heart of our work with schools. Thinking of running a school battlefield tour? Already do? Call or e-mail and if we get no further than just chatting history, then at least you will know what we can do for you.

Steve Garnett

sgarnett@bfxtours.com

07585 220 166

School Battlefield Tour? So What?

Last Saturday I had a conversation with Ofsted’s National Advisor for History:

Me: It is about ensuring real, genuine learning outcomes.

Him: Yes, my first question regarding any school trip is ‘so what?’

This week we ran a five day WW1 Enrichment Week at Wilmington Grammar School for Boys. 30 students from Year 7 to Year 12 took part. The programme included:

Day 1 – Living history and research of local memorial and/or personal ancestors

Day 2 – Visit to National Army Museum including talk

Day 3 – Tour of Ypres Salient

Day 4 – Creation of student exhibition

Day 5 – Presentation of exhibition and celebration

Great on paper but as Ofsted and school governing bodies should ask, so what?

Here is an outline of the answer we left the school with:

Day 1 – Living History

Sergeant Riley drilling the students.

Sergeant Riley drilling the students.

Day 2 – National Army Museum

Student handling British Vickers Machine Gun.

Student handling British Vickers Machine Gun.

Day 3 – Ypres

Student at inscription of Wilmington man Richard Mayger.

Student at inscription of Wilmington man Richard Mayger.

Day 4 – Creation of student exhibition

Student creating a flyer 'life in the trenches'.

Student creating a flyer ‘life in the trenches’.

Day 5 – Presentation and Celebration

Evidence of student learning.

Evidence of student learning.

If Ofsted walked in next week and asked ‘so what?’ the school would have an outstanding answer.

This is just one of the WW1 Packages we offer schools. If you want this for your school or something similar, e-mail me at sgarnett@bfxtours.com or ring me on 07585 220 166.

Brilliant effort by the students: real learning and remembrance.

Many thanks,

Steve Garnett

Second Birthday and Testimonials

Tomorrow is the second birthday of Battlefront Exploration. Some people said that it wouldn’t work. Others that it would. It has worked.

Why has it worked? Well, by concentrating on two groups: the men who fought in the Great War and the students we are privileged to work with.

Tomorrow, on our birthday, we are exhibiting at the School History Project Conference in Leeds. These testimonials will be coming with us:

“Your WW1 workshops are priceless.”

Head of History

“To actually hold a real World War One shell was amazing.”

Year 10 Student

“The impact this tour has had on the students is incredible.”

Parent and Tour Member

“I can’t believe how young they are. Some of them are the same age as me. It is really sad Miss, really sad. I didn’t expect it to be like this.”

Year 11 Student

“After a day on the battlefields, it is wonderful to see the students eating and talking together.”

Teacher

“Visiting his Great-Great Grandad’s grave … you don’t know how proud he was and how much this meant  to our family.”

Parent

“The best guided experience I have had in twenty years of teaching.”

Teacher

“Thank you for going to such lengths to connect with the students and to get them to try to take in the hugeness of what they were experiencing.”

Head of History

“I like to think I’m quite good with words, but I don’t think I can do justice to the quality of what you provided.”

Head of History

“I thought it would just be looking at gravestones, but that was awesome!”

Year 9 Student

Pre-tour presentations, guided tours and post-tour student exhibitions. This is the product we offer. We are proud of these testimonials and we thank all those who have helped us this past two years and supooorted us, either face to face or online.

We most of all thank the teachers and students we have worked with.

To learn more and find out if it is something you want your students to experience, contact me on 07585 220 166 or at sgarnett@bfxtours.com.

Many thanks,

Steve Garnett

One of their own: Private Richard Mayger

Third Ypres. Passchendaele. 12th October 1917. Under heavy German shell fire and an erratic British bombardment, advancing against machine gun fire through mud waist high and fighting from one flooded shell crater to another, rifles jammed, the 7th West Kents attacked the Germans north-east of Ypres.

Later, when they were relieved and roll call taken, Private Richard Mayger didn’t answer his name. He couldn’t because he was somewhere out on the battlefield dead or dying. Edith, his wife, was soon informed by post he was missing. Eight months later she was told that for official purposes he was dead.

Richard Mayger married Edith Rose six years before on Saturday 28th January 1911. Richard was nineteen. Seven months later they had their first son and named him after his dad. Richard, like his father and grandfather, was a farm labourer and his left forearm proudly bore the initial ‘E’ above an image of a rose and anchor. Two months before he enlisted, Edith gave birth to a daughter, Edith Dorothy.

Next week I am working with a group of students from Wilmington Grammar School for Boys. On Monday, they will be spending the morning with Sergeant Charles Riley (living history expert Tony Davies) and in the afternoon they will be researching Wilmington’s War Memorial. On Tuesday, we are heading to the National Army Museum and then on Wednesday, Ypres. Thursday and Friday the boys will be creating an exhibition on WW1.

Wilmington is a small village just outside of Dartford in Kent. Thirty-seven of its men were killed in the Great War and these are listed on the War Memorial in the centre of the village. The twenty-seventh name is that of R. Mayger.

Next Wednesday, at the end of a full day at Ypres, I and the students will stand at  the Tyne Cot Memorial where Richard is remembered. We will stand there and I will tell them his full story. We will remember Richard, Edith and their children.

His son, Richard, died in 1994 having had a family of his own. He called his own son Richard John after the father who died when he was six.

Just before we depart I will tell the boys that if they take one thing from the week, it is the story of one of their own, Richard Mayger.

And that is what this company does and we do it for every school we work with. We make every tour relevant to the students by telling the personal story of at least one of their own.

It takes work but it is what the men, women and children of 1914-1919 deserve. If you want this for your school, contact me at sgarnett@bfxtours.com or ring 07585 220 166.

Steve Garnett

Thanks & The Future

Dear All,

It is now two years since I left teaching to create Battlefront Exploration. In those two years we have gone from strength to strength and I am delighted at the progress the company has made.

This blog has had many changes in those two years. It began as a personal blog where I recorded my thoughts mainly on the 10th Battalion Essex Regiment in WW1. Then, it began to incorporate more and more of Batttlefront Exploration’s work and finally, for a short while, it became the primary website of the company.

In many ways the blog reflects my personal journey from teacher to battlefield guide to the leader of a school tour operator.

We are now entering a new and exciting phase. Next month, Steven Jolly, experienced history teacher, inset leader and a regional co-ordinator for the School History Project is joining Battlefront Exploration. Tony Davies and his team of living history specialists are now working with the company in its delivery of pre-tour workshops. Next year, alongside record numbers of Great War tours we are running school trips to Krakow in Poland. This is an exciting time for the company.

Exciting yes but also firmly grounded. Safety and financial security are paramount in all our relationships with schools.

And then there are our principles: learning, growth, relevance and remembrance.

These principles form the bedrock of what this company does and why it is different. By working towards them we ensure that every school receives pre-tour presentations, guided tours and post-tour exhibitions as standard. That students learn, that they grow, that history is made relevant to them and that they remember the men, women and children of the past, will always remain at the heart of what Battlefront Exploration does.

So, the new phase?

Whilst our primary website is now at www.battlefrontexploration.co.uk, this blog is intended to become a platform for teachers. On here, we will be sharing information and creating resources that can be used in the classroom. Of course, we hope that teachers will then want to explore what Battlefront Exploration can do for their school but even if not, we will be working towards our four principles. We are a company created by teachers for teachers. Teachers and their students are central to all we do.

Therefore, as we enter this new phase, I want to say thank you to all who have supported and followed us in the past two years. It was recently pointed out that I will be 57 at the start of the WW2 centenary, so we have a very long way to go and I hope you will continue with us on Battlefront Exploration’s journey.

Oh, and if you do know any teachers then please pass our details on!!!

Many thanks,

Steve Garnett

sgarnett@bfxtours.com

A Letter of Recommendation

Blessed William Howard - Letter of Recommendation

Dear Colleagues,

World War I Battlefields Experience

As we approach the centenary of the First World War, great emphasis is rightly being placed upon students gaining a greater understanding of the event. You will no doubt be aware that David Cameron has pledged resources for schools to support opportunities for students to travel to visit the battlefields in France and Belgium.

If you are considering planning such a visit then, through personal experience, I urge you seriously to consider using a company called Battlefront Exploration. In October last year I took a party of forty students from years 9-11 under the guidance of Steve Garnett, the company’s director who has close links with Stafford.

We enjoyed a superb four day tour addressing curricular needs relating to history, English and citizenship, strongly tailored to our geographical connection and (in two cases) personal familial connections. The visit combined an exploration of key sites on the Somme and in Ypres as well as incorporating the little town of Ors where Wilfred Owen died and is today commemorated.

Steve paid meticulous attention to detail and was warmly valued by all students and staff on the tour for his passion, knowledge and easy approachability. In addition to guiding the visit, Steve gave an interactive workshop in school and a presentation to parents. I cannot praise him enough for the value that students derived from this visit under his direction. Like any school trip, students left Stafford in high spirits; they returned, without exception, having ‘grown up’ in their appreciation of the scale of suffering, sacrifice and loss in the events of 1914-18.

I am sure that you will receive many fliers from school travel companies. Making a decision as to which one to use is always a problem. Some will be generic coach tours, others may have a more specialised interest. I know that personal recommendation counts for a great deal in assuring parents of educational value and value for money.

If you have any specific questions relating to the detail of our experience then please do not hesitate to contact me. I should be delighted to talk to you.

Yours faithfully,

Nigel Dudley,

Deputy Headteacher