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Living History

Someone once said that ‘History never looks like history when you are living through it.’ This week I have found myself to be both a historical artefact and a ‘primary source’! It has been a fascinating start to our whole school enquiry ‘How has school life at Unsworth changed over the last 50 years?’

We started the week with an assembly about 1964, the year our school opened as Parr Lane County Primary School. During the assembly, I read from the school’s log book which was handwritten by the first headteacher, Mr Higginbottom. In the first entry he had noted the numbers of pupils and the names of the staff employed at the school. We were interested to find out that the school opened with 135 pupils, one headteacher, three teachers and a caretaker.

At the end of the assembly, I challenged the children to find out about the similarities and differences between school life now and in the past. I also asked them to find the evidence and look for something called ‘ primary sources.’ It has been really interesting to observe the results as the week has progressed.

Our enquiry has coincided with a sea change that is sweeping across our school. At our most recent professional development day, Mr Rhodes led the staff on training in the potential of technology to transform approaches to learning. We talked about how the ways we teach can not always stay the same. The way our children learn has and will change and, as educators, we must use technology to redefine the way we teach and the way children learn. If you are a regular user of our website and have started to follow us on Twitter you will have noticed the results of this training in our classrooms.

It has been very interesting to visit our classes and see the contrast between pupils using original documents, old maps, photographs and first-hand recollections of events and then seeing them use the most up to date technology to record their learning about the past. Our children have been thoroughly engaged by both the past and the new ways they are using to demonstrate their learning.

On Thursday 11th June we will be exhibiting the results of our enquiry in our ‘living history museum’. Each class will exhibit their findings and children will be available to answer our enquiry question. We would love to see you there.

It is a sobering thought to realise that I have been a part of Unsworth Primary School for 25 of its 50 years! This week has brought back a lot of memories and reminders about the many people I have known, children and adults, across that period. Our learning this week has illustrated the fact that whilst the tools we use are very, very different from the past, the one constant in life is that it is people that matter, it is people who make history.

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