Buttsbury Junior School Students

Article by Chloe Chapman: Learning about history might not be every child's idea of fun, but a special First World War project is showing just how important a little bit of creativity is when it comes to educating our youngsters.

Pupils at four Billericay schools – Buttsbury Junior School, St John’s School, St Peter’s Catholic Primary School, and Quilters Junior School – have been enjoying trips to museums, trying their hands at sewing and knitting, and having a go at cooking as part of the First World War: Then and Now programme.

The project, which received £6,700 of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, was designed by the trustees of the Reading Rooms, in First Avenue, Billericay.

It follows a successful partnership with the four schools on a project last year to mark the 150th anniversary of the building, which was built by gentlemen, professionals and tradesmen to provide learning and social facilities for local residents.

Andy Maddocks, 72, a retired banker, joined the Reading Rooms committee four years ago after seeing an advert in a community leaflet.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Andy Maddocks"]This project has taken up a lot of my time. I don’t think a day has done by that I haven’t spent time on it, but it’s so worthwhile I wouldn’t change it. I think it’s extremely important to teach history to the youngsters of today.[/quote]

The four schools have each been given a specific area of the First World War to focus on including nutrition and looking at the availability of food at home and on the battlefields, businesses in and around the town at the time, and newspaper production.

For Buttsbury Junior School, in Norsey View Drive, the focus has been fashion.

The pupils, who have been looking at frontline uniforms, clothing of the period and the ability for people to obtain materials, have created life-size models of a man and a woman.

All the work will be displayed during an exhibition at the Reading Rooms from tomorrow until Sunday.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Mr Maddocks"]I have been really pleased with the commitment of both the teachers and the pupils. They have really got to grips with it, and they’ve not look bored once. This project will bring into focus the importance of war memorials that commemorate the sacrifice given by so many, and preserve the memories and heritage of the people who lived through the war.[/quote]

The Heritage Lottery Fund previously handed a £50,600 grant to the Basildon Heritage Group for its Forger Never project, which also marked the centenary of the First World War.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the fund in the East of England.

[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Robyn Llewellyn"]The impact of the First World War was far reaching, touching and shaping every corner of the UK and beyond. The Heritage Lottery Fund has already invested more than £15million in projects – large and small – that are marking this global centenary. With our new small grants programme, we are enabling even more communities like those involved in Billericay, to explore the continuing legacy of this conflict and help local young people in particular, to broaden their understanding of how it has shaped our modern world.[quote]

Article by Chloe Chapman, The Echo

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