Get free VE Day 75 resources for your assembly!

VE Day 75 assembly resource

The Royal British Legion assembly plans will help schools across the UK commemorate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. As the nation comes together to honour the Second World War generation on 8th May, The Royal British Legion has launched a range of new assembly resources to help pupils explore their shared heritage of Remembrance and commemorate the service and sacrifice of the wartime generation. The assemblies have been created in partnership with the National Literacy Trust to help explain to children of different ages and backgrounds why and how we remember the contribution of the entire WW2 generation on VE Day.  The language, design and format reflect the needs of both teachers and students, ensuring everyone can benefit from engaging with these carefully crafted resources. The assemblies are aimed at Key Stages 2 and 3 and are an ideal way for schools to take part in the VE Day commemorations in this significant anniversary year.  The assembly packs and learning materials are suitable for young people aged 7 to 14 and will be free to download from 9th March on the Legion website. The VE Day 75 resources are available to download at: Catherine Davies, Head of Remembrance at The Royal British Legion says: “It is important that children from all backgrounds learn about their shared history of Remembrance. The assembly packs will not only teach children about the significance of VE Day, but also help children explore the idea of Remembrance and discover its relevance to today. The Royal British Legion is committed to making sure the torch of Remembrance is passed on to the next generation and these assemblies will play an important role in achieving that.”  The resources, downloadable in PowerPoint format, include: VE Day: Introduction for Assemblies – presentations designed to be shared with a whole school or year group, with a focus on helping students understand what VE Day is and how it remains relevant today.   VE Day: How To Get Involved – presentations designed to be delivered to a year group, form group or class, focusing on ways to engage students around VE Day and providing different activity suggestions. They will come with detailed teacher notes, giving key information on VE Day as well as historic context to help teachers feel confident in delivering the presentation and supporting their class.    

Keeping the love for history alive

Benedict Freeburn, history teacher at St Mary Magdalene CE School

Benedict Freeburn, history teacher at St Mary Magdalene CE School, explains the positive impact great CPD can have on teachers’ passion for their subject. After giving explanations of how William the Conqueror won the Battle of Hastings to a multitude of classes, does your passion for teaching shine as brightly as it did the day you first walked into the classroom? The best teachers are highly skilled at ensuring true love for their subject endures, regardless of how many years they have been teaching it. But schools have an important part to play in nurturing this. History beyond the classroom  School trips are a great way to spark students’ imaginations and immerse them in the subjects they are learning. Our school is ideally located for this and as a history teacher, I’ve seen the positive impact of taking students on half-termly trips to exciting locations such as the Tower of London and Hampton Court Palace. Giving students the chance to chat about the famous characters  from history  inside  the rooms they inhabited, or see the actual graffiti created by those imprisoned in the Tower for themselves, really helps to bring history to life. But spending time outside of the classroom in these places can be hugely beneficial for teachers too, as I discovered recently when my colleagues and I attended a CPD event at the Tower of London. Always learning Having visited the Tower with our students at least eight times a year as part of the history curriculum, we were amazed at how much a CPD-focussed event enabled us to learn about the subject we love and the different ways of teaching it. One highlight of the event, which was run by Historic Royal Palaces, was being able to chat to a current GCSE examiner about the new numerical grading system. As a relatively new school, St Mary Magdalene is about to start teaching GCSEs for the very first time, so it was great to be able to ask questions and get a clearer understanding of what examiners look for in a grade 9 answer, and how this differs from the previous A* grade. Taking a tour from a teacher’s perspective, rather than that of a student, helped to underline how our trips to the Tower can support teaching at Key Stage 3, as well as our GCSE units. We returned to school invigorated with new lesson ideas and a deeper understanding of the site’s history – it is quite amazing how many questions you have when you’re not monitoring thirty students. The experience has changed our approach to teaching Key Stage 3 history. The Tower now plays a central role in developing students’ enquiry skills, featuring heavily in our Normans and Tudor schemes of work. The CPD event has also provided a strong introduction to the Elizabethans for Key Stage 4 too.  Inspiring students School trips are designed to an experience that motivates students to make good progress back in school. CPD days away from the classroom are equally important for allowing teachers to delve deeper into their subjects and explore the most effective ways of teaching them. With over 70% of students at St Mary Magdalene studying history GCSE, we believe that the passion our teachers have for history is shared by our students. For more information, visit CPD for schools.

Bringing history to life through animation

Victoria Nielson of Waterloo 200 on the history animation competition

Victoria Nielson, CEO of Waterloo 200, discusses getting youngsters engaged with history through the Age of Revolution project… Q&A on Waterloo 200’s history animation competition 1. Tell us about Waterloo 200 charity, about its background and how the Age of Revolution Project came about. Waterloo 200 is the official body recognised by the UK government to support the commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo. As part of our work we have launched a five-year educational legacy project – the Age of Revolution. The aim of the project is to broaden understanding and engagement of the revolution in Europe between 1775 and 1848. Our goal is to engage with over 2,000 national UK schools across the education spectrum through providing bespoke educational materials, multimedia technologies and creative educational partnerships.  The Age of Revolution resource brings together objects and artworks from museums and galleries across the UK, together with facts, information and curriculum-linked ideas to help bring this extraordinary period to life.  2. Why did the charity decide to run an animation competition? We’re always looking for ways to link the extraordinary people, events and ideas of the time – such as protests, equality and the invention of things we now take for granted – with the lives of children and young people today. Animation is a great way to pull all of these aims together. One of the best ways to learn about something – including history – is to present or explain it to someone else. By creating an animation about the Age of Revolution, students have to really focus their learning about the period and think creatively about how to get their message across, in a fun and engaging way. We hope that presenting this as a competition will not only encourage more schools to have a go, but will also mean they can share their wonderful ideas with us – and others. We’ve included a step-by-step guide to making an animation in our online resource so we hope that will also help students (and teachers!) develop new skills in digital making. 3. Have you seen any entries yet and, if so, what impressed you? It’s a little early for entries at the moment as schools have until February 2020 to submit their entries. The judges are looking for imaginative, creative animations, which genuinely reflect students’ own ideas and thoughts about ‘Revolution’. We really want to encourage schools to be as creative as they want to be – they can use photography, clay or digital apps. We just want people to have fun with it and for their film to answer the question “What Does Revolution Mean to Me?” We are lucky to be working with hugely talented judges who are experts in creativity, filmmaking and history. From historian and Waterloo 200 ambassador Dan Snow to award-winning Casting Director Kate Rhodes-James, BBC Animation Producer Barry Quinn and Anra Kennedy, Partnerships Director at Culture24, our judges are waiting to be impressed. 4. How can schools get involved in the competition? Firstly, we need schools to encourage their children to engage with the competition and what revolution means to them. We would point teachers towards our Revolutionary collection held on our website ( to introduce their students to the objects and images of the Age of Revolution. Students may want to look at the Age of Revolution as a whole or concentrate on a specific theme for their film – be that Riots and reforms or the Industrial Revolution. We then would ask teachers to plan a simple story with their class which will form the arc of their animation, as well as to think about the different elements – from characters to format to colours and storylines. It’s then down to creating the film! 5. Do you provide wider resources on the Age of Revolution for schools?    We have many free online resources for teachers supported by the Age of Revolution project. It includes an online gallery of over 100 revolutionary objects, carefully selected from museums and galleries across the UK, with facts and information written specifically for teachers. Teachers can choose from our range of tried-and-tested historical enquiries, creative challenges, activities and ideas, to bring classroom learning to life across the curriculum, for all ages. Schools can visit for more information and a bank of free resources. 6. What do you have planned for the future? We’re about to launch a graphic novel about the Peterloo Massacre – created specially for schools. It’s been created by Polyp, Robert Poole and Ben Marsh (our historian partner from the University go Kent) – it’s described as: “The explosive tale of Peterloo, told through the voices of those who were there. A vivid, original and historically accurate ‘comic book’ visual account of the 1819 Manchester massacre, to be published as part of the 200th anniversary commemorations.” As with all our resources it will be accompanied by associated classroom activities for teachers. We have also just closed an exciting funding opportunity for schools and museums to apply for funding to develop digital making projects. We want them to work together to use simple digital tools such as apps, green screening, video, 3D printing, microcomputers etc to get creative with ‘Revolutionary’ museum collections – and with our own online ‘Revolutionary collection’ of objects. We’ll be working with successful applicants from September on these projects and will share any great ideas on our website as part of our resource, for other museums and schools to try.

We must encourage young people’s curiosity in science and history

Natural History Museum - the Dino Snore

Beth Stone, Head of Learning and Audiences at the Natural History Museum, discusses with QA Education editor Victoria Galligan how the iconic venue inspires the next generation of STEM experts… Q&A with the Natural History Museum Can you give an example of a lesson/visit where a school surprised you? We’re constantly surprised by the students that attend our workshops. Recently we had KS1 students attend our Super Stegosaurus workshop, who had only recently transitioned from nursery. We were delighted to see how engaged they were on the concept of fossils and palaeontology and their use of the complex vocabulary at such a young age. This means the workshop experience often doubles as a summary of the unit they’ve just been taught, or it is used as a springboard to introduce a new unit. Similarly, the creation of pre and post-visit resources are hugely beneficial to students as it means our workshops can be used to support student’s project or as a knowledge testing exercise. What should schools be doing to ensure the scientists of the future are being challenged?  Scientists of the future face numerous challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, food and water security and how to supply our global energy needs – all of which have been exacerbated by climate change and our growing populations. It’s therefore paramount that we encourage young people’s curiosity and interest in science and natural history as they’ll be the ones continuing to tackle these challenges in the future. Schools therefore have a huge role to play here and this is why we’re passionate about working with educators to instil what we call ‘scientific habits of mind’. This idea is about encouraging curiosity, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, visualising and modelling – skills that are essential in science but also crucial skills for the world of work. We see it as our job as a museum to empower educators and students to develop these behaviours and skills and broaden their understanding of science and the natural world.  One of the ways in which schools can maintain this curiosity for science in their students, is through technology. For example, our partnership with Dell allows us to support and inspire younger generations with technology-supported learning. Our Dippy’s Naturenauts app helps spark curiosity about the past, present and future by setting them various explorative tasks that encourage them to explore the natural world. We hope that through our workshops, museum experience and through our technology partnership, we can attract a wider diversity of students to STEM subjects and highlight just how many careers the world of science supports. After all, we don’t have a lot of time in which to make a difference, so there’s a real sense of urgency in tackling this now. Do you feel primary science should be tested at Years 2 and 6 like maths and English? The most important thing for us is that science, remains as important as key subjects such as English and maths. We want to help support all teachers, especially those that perhaps don’t have a specialism in science and are therefore less confident, so they can encourage their students to develop scientific habitats of mind and go on to be scientifically literate adults. By encouraging students to develop a healthy scepticism, and by giving them the ability to understand evidence and analyse its value, we can help them develop useful life skills. In order to do this, we’ve found that enquiry-based learning is great at building students’ confidence.  However, students are still being put off science due to out of date stereotypes. Recent research from King’s College found that students can be put off by the brainy image of scientists as they don’t think they are clever enough to excel. We therefore need to challenge this typecast at a much earlier stage of development – as if we wait until secondary school, we’ll have already lost a great many potential scientists, researchers and experts. For more information on booking a trip to the Natural History Museum, see  

Age of Revolution launches animation competition

Dan Snow will judge the history animation competition

The Age of Revolution national educational project has teamed up with historian, broadcaster and author Dan Snow to launch an animation competition for primary and secondary schools. Open to entries until February 14th 2020, the Age of Revolution invites schools to submit a short animation using the title ‘What Does Revolution Mean to Me?’ The animation can be influenced by a revolutionary invention, event, idea or person from the Age of Revolution (1775 – 1848), however, it could also be something revolutionary from another time, inspiration from students’ local history or in their own lives or wider world today. The Age of Revolution also encourages schools to involve objects and artworks from museums, galleries or archives in their animations. This could be achieved through our extensive online Revolutionary collection. A winner and a runner-up for both Primary and Secondary sectors will be chosen in March 2020 by a team of expert judges, including Dan Snow, award-winning Casting Director Kate Rhodes-James, BBC Animation Producer Barry Quinn and Anra Kennedy, Partnerships Director at Culture24.  The judges are looking for imaginative, creative animations, which genuinely reflect students’ own ideas and thoughts about ‘Revolution.’  Animation prize for winning schools  Winners will be announced at the end of March 2020. The winning entries will be showcased on History Hit TV. The winning schools will also receive £500 to support further cultural and digital learning. The Age of Revolution project aims to inspire and support learning in schools about the extraordinary people, events and ideas of the time and to connect these to the lives of children and young people today, working actively with more than 2,000 UK schools. The project provides bespoke educational materials, multimedia technology and educational and cultural partnerships for children at all Key Stages. Victoria Nielson, CEO for Waterloo 200 says: “The revolution in Europe saw seismic change and upheaval, extraordinary ideas and innovation and radical new ways of thinking, living and working. By asking schools to think about the period in a new way – through the lens of a modern medium like animation – we hope to inspire a new generation of teaching and learning about this important piece of history. Ultimately, we are looking to create a broad and varied collection of learning resources and inspirational work, created from and by, children.” Dan Snow, historian and ambassador for Waterloo 200 added: “We know that children can make some amazing observations, and this competition will allow us all to see an important period of history through a new lens. We’re looking forward to finding out how they see revolution, and how key moments in history are impacting on their lives today. This competition will encourage children, who may have never really thought about revolution before, to talk about it, to appreciate it and to learn from it.”  Schools can find out more about the competition and how to enter at The Age of Revolution website. And, to provide food for thought, The Age of Revolution has worked with a primary school to produce an inspirational animation, which showcases what can be created in the classroom. For further information on the animation competition visit The Age of Revolution resource brings together objects and artworks from museums and galleries across the UK, together with fascinating facts, information and curriculum-linked ideas to help bring this extraordinary period to life. The Age of Revolution is an educational legacy project from Waterloo 200 – the official body recognised by the UK government to support the commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo during its bicentenary in 2015 and beyond.