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History Department Trip to the Imperial War Museum

All of Year 9 and those Year 10s who have been wise enough to opt to study GCSE History, went to visit the Imperial War Museum in London on Friday 19th June. The weather was good, London traffic was typically awful, but not beyond the bounds of expectation, and our estimated times of arrival to and from the museum were bang on accurate! On arrival we split into two groups – the Year 9s with Miss Davis and Mr Morcombe, and the Year 10 GCSE group with Mrs McCoy and Mr Banks. Both groups were able to visit and tour the special World War One and Holocaust exhibitions.

The First World War galleries included a powerful range of artefacts and documents that recreated the war at the battle front and also the war on the home front. This last aspect will be of particular value to Year 10 as they will be studying the theme of ‘Home Front Britain 1914-18’ as part of their course next term. The Year 9 students recently completed a depth study on ‘War in the Trenches’ and this exhibition will have deepened their understanding of what they have studied. The Holocaust exhibition is the most challenging and emotive of all the displays in the museum. It was good that our students could progress at their own pace here and read, listen and see without direction. No words or direction were required. The combination of artefacts – Zyklon B poison canisters, piles of children’s shoes, striped uniforms – together with archive film and the harrowing accounts of survivors and perpetrators, had a powerful and moving impact.

The Year 9 students attended a special session with an IWM instructor looking at, working with and handling artefacts, letters and photographs detailing the experiences of individuals who survived the Holocaust. They worked extremely well with the IWM instructor and impressed our hosts with their intelligence and good manners.

Meanwhile the Year 10 GCSE students had an IWM instructor working with them on aspects of life in Nazi Germany. This focussed on themes such as opinions on Hitler, attitudes towards the Jews, the Hitler Youth and family life under the Nazis. Much of this was seen through the eyes of one person via his letters and photographs. All the students worked in small teams to see what they could discover from the artefacts provided by the IWM. The students worked superbly and made some really intelligent observations. The IWM instructor said that they were one of the brightest groups she had worked with! Well done Year 10. Nazi Germany is an element of one of the units they study for GCSE.

All groups had the opportunity to visit the WW2 and Cold War areas of the museum too and we had time for a pleasant lunch in the gardens and a visit to the IWM shop.

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