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Close to home: play about Gandhi’s assassin stirs up family memories

Boys on a Sixth-Form theatre trip explored one of the seminal moments in modern Indian history – the 1948 assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Twenty-two Year 12 boys and their teachers went on the History department trip to the National Theatre to see The Father and the Assassin.

It tells the story of Hindu nationalist Nathuram Godse, who went from being a loyal follower of Gandhi and his non-violent methods to becoming his killer.

History teacher John Haswell said: “The play explores the conflicting narratives and complex desires of those involved in India’s struggle for freedom, and how Gandhi’s vision of an integrated nation of Hindus and Muslims clashed with the vision of others, including that of his assassin, who saw Gandhi’s integrationist ideals as a betrayal to his Hindu nationalist vision of a free India.

“For some of our students, the characters and individuals on stage were familiar through their own engagement with Indian history. Indeed, for some, the play was a portrayal of a more personal history, as family members may have experienced both the fight for independence and the horrors of partition.”

Regardless of their background, the visit enhanced all the boys’ understanding of Indian independence, showing how competing visions of a post-colonial India clashed, Mr Haswell added. They also appreciated the unique power of theatre to bring such ideas to life.

“The play also echoes beyond India, and speaks to conflicts elsewhere in the world where seemingly irreconcilable world-views collide.”

Written by Indian playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar, The Father and the Assassin premiered at the National last year. It completes its second run there this month.

After the visit, the boys, all A-level History students, gave their reactions. Joel Kidangan Justine said: “This was my first time to the theatre, and I’m amazed by how well they are able to capture the story of Indian independence in such a clever and interesting way.”

Kyshaan Ravikumar described the play as “an enticing reimagination of the struggle for Indian independence”, while Vaibhav Gaddi praised “a captivating story that sheds light on the story of Nathuram Vinayak Godse”.

Saving the founder: QE 450th anniversary competition winners enjoy rare chance to see National Archives treasure

Twenty-three boys whose work was chosen as the best in the QE 450th anniversary research project were treated to a rare look at one of the nation’s most treasured documents on a trip to the National Archives.

Among the artefacts viewed by the group during their visit to Kew was the actual letter – known as the ‘Tide Letter’ – written by the future Queen Elizabeth I, founder of Queen Elizabeth’s School, as she battled for survival following her arrest in 1554.

Jenni Blackford, Curator of QE Collections and Head of Library Services, said: “It was amazing to see such fabulous documents close up and it was a testament to our students’ conduct, interest and behaviour that they brought the Tide Letter out to show them at the end of the session.”

The visit was a reward for the boys who submitted the best entries to Project 1573. This involved small groups of boys being given three primary sources relating to a particular aspect of QE’s history and then asked to produce a three-minute presentation after accessing QE Collections – the School’s online archive – and other archival materials.

The winners were:

  • Navieeneish Kirubaharan, Param Kapadia, Aarnav Mahajan and Advay Zore, all from Year 8 Pearce form, who researched Timothy Edwards, Headmaster 1961–1983
  • Kelvin Chen, Ethan Yao, Jonas Dawit and Rishi Sen, also of Year 8 Pearce, researching E W Harrison, a long-serving teacher who retired in 1950 and is one of the two unrelated people after whom the Harrisons’ House is named
  • Shravanth Sadheesh, Pranav Nayak, Arya Ratnakaram and Sriram Muthukumaran, from Year 8, Stapylton, who looked into QE’s 350th anniversary celebrations in 1923
  • Snehal Das, Samir Cheema and Ozgan Cakir, of Year 9, Stapylton, who researched QE becoming a grant-maintained school in 1989, giving it new freedoms to govern its own affairs
  • Keeyan Shah, Alex Stack, Shlok Gajjar and Pranith Turaga, also of Year 9, Stapylton, looked into the foundation of the School
  • Aahan Shah, Abhinav Sandeep, Jack Tan and Tunishq Mitra, of the Year 9 Broughton form, who investigated the history of Eton Fives at the School.

They saw the Tide Letter, which was written by Elizabeth to her half-sister, Queen Mary I, when the princess was arrested following Wyatt’s Rebellion, an attempt to overthrow the queen, in 1554. Mary gave orders for Elizabeth to be taken to the Tower of London.

“The students were able to see the neat handwriting at the start of the letter become larger and messier as she was likely made to hurry by those waiting to escort her to the Tower. Fearing her enemies might alter the letter, Elizabeth struck lines through the blank space above her signature,” said Mrs Blackford.

“It is called the Tide Letter because it is believed Elizabeth deliberately wrote the letter to buy time so that the daylight low tide that enabled boats to pass safely through the narrow arches of London Bridge would have turned and she would avoid being taken to the Tower for an additional day.”

Eloquently protesting her innocence, the future queen finishes the letter: “Your hignes most faithful subject that hathe bine from the beginninge, and wylbe to my ende. Elizabeth.”

Her stratagem was successful: she was not taken to the Tower until the following day. Elizabeth was eventually released and then succeeded to the throne on Mary’s death four years later, in 1558.

The Year 8 and Year 9 boys saw a variety of later documents from Elizabeth’s reign, including letters, speeches, Plea Rolls (parchment court records) and the queen’s second Great Seal.

QE’s founding Royal Charter of 1573 was authorised with Queen Elizabeth’s first seal. This, however, wore out during her long reign, and, Ms Blackford said, the boys enjoyed finding out about its replacement: “It is noticeably more elaborate, as Elizabeth had started to closely monitor her image.”

The boys also learned about how the National Archives came into existence, hearing how in the 1830s, civil servant Henry Cole submitted to the Government a dead mummified rat with a stomach full of chewed documents among his evidence of the unsuitability of the premises where public records were then being stored.



Poetry, puzzles, castles, eco products…and a truly dastardly crime: it’s the QE 2022 Primary Challenge!

QE expanded its series of popular challenges for local primary school children this year, adding a humanities day to the programme.

The events, which are part of QE’s partnerships work with the local community, are aimed at giving Year 5 girls and boys an early taste of secondary school education.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “We are pleased to support local primary schools in this way.

“I know that our staff and pupils involved in running these enrichment activities greatly enjoy the opportunity to meet the visiting children.”

The first of the three days was the ever-popular Primary Forensics Workshop. The visitors were tasked with completing a number of experiments and analyses to work out who had murdered the Headmaster!

There were stations where the children could undertake: hair and fibre analysis using a microscope; fingerprint analysis, and blood spatter analysis (with a blood substitute).

The pupils worked to solve the ‘crime’, using the evidence they collected to build a case, while also weighing up the respective motives of the suspects.

Boys from Year 12 helped staff run this workshop, engaging with the children at each station.

In the Maths and English Challenge, the girls and boys had to solve a series of games and puzzles that ranged from a cross-number round to a session looking at composing and performing poetry.

There was a focus on teamwork and collaboration. Each team had the support of a QE Year 7 pupil.

Special plaudits went to Foulds School pupils, who achieved a near-clean sweep of the prizes, having impressed across the various disciplines on the day.

The new humanities day hosted by the History, Geography and Economics departments comprised two separate activities.

Firstly, teams were given the challenge of designing a castle on paper. They had to base their design on a certain set of criteria and follow a budget, requiring them to decide which features they wanted to prioritise.

They then faced a number of scenarios, presenting both challenges and opportunities for their fortifications. Could their castle and kingdom survive?

“This was a way of exploring history and strategy in a fun and engaging way,” said Mr Enright. “The Year 5 pupils also had to adapt their plans as the scenarios unfolded, which meant teams had to communicate well and quickly make decisions.”

There was then a Sustainability Challenge run jointly by Geography and Economics. The children had to work in groups and devise a sustainable product. They designed their product, chose a logo and decided on their target market. Then each group presented to the other children in attendance. Among the ideas generated were: a mobile phone where the case is a solar panel and charges the phone, and a ‘plastic’ bottle where the bottle itself is biodegradable.

“Our staff were really impressed with the confidence shown by the children in their presentations and by the creativity they brought to bear in designing their products,” said the Headmaster.

Participating Barnet primary schools this year included: Underhill, Whitings Hill, Christchurch, and Foulds.

A first for QE? Sixth-formers delve deep into the School’s history through new Palaeography Society

A new School society – believed to be the first of its kind in the country – is working hard to decipher QE’s earliest written records.

English teacher Kanak Shah has brought together a group of dedicated Year 12 boys and trained them in palaeography – the study of ancient and pre-modern manuscripts.

Now they have started transcribing QE Governors’ meeting minutes, starting with Volume I, which begins in 1587, and also researching the School Charter, which dates back to the School’s founding year, 1573.

Ms Shah, who has an MPhil degree in Renaissance Literature from Cambridge, said: “Due to its complexity, palaeography is usually only studied at Master’s level. But since I myself have a keen interest in palaeography, manuscripts and the early modern period, and since QE boasts one of the most robust school archive collections in the UK, I was eager for the students to be involved in preserving and curating their own School’s history.”

Working together with Ms Shah and Jenni Blackford, Curator of QE Collections and Head of Library Services, are the following Year 12 A-level History students: Gabriel Gulliford, Ishaan Mehta, Muhammad Nayel Huda, Kai Mukherjee, Danny Adey, Conall Walker and Jeeve Singh. All are currently studying the early modern period and are considering pursuing courses in subjects such as History, Palaeography or Archaeology at university.

“We started by following Cambridge University’s English Handwriting 1500-1700 online course to develop the students’ transcription skills. We then began to transcribe the digitised manuscripts on QE Collections [the School’s publicly available digital archive, launched last year].

“The earliest documents present an interesting challenge as they were written before the standardisation of handwriting, and so require careful decoding,” said Ms Shah.

Having initially familiarised themselves with the subject matter digitally, the group are now working with the original archive materials, guided by Mrs Blackford.

They plan to publish the transcripts on QE Collections in the Summer Term, while they will contribute their research to an exhibition of archival material planned for the School’s 450th anniversary next year.

“Looking forward to the future, we would be keen to establish a working relationship with Barnet Museum, who possess a complete transcription of these Governor’s minutes that was done many years ago,” said Ms Shah.

It is not clear who made the the Barnet Museum transcription, which was completed  some time prior to 1931. The preface to the museum’s collection of QE translations and transcriptions was written in May 1931 by Cecil L Tripp, author of A History of Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, published 1935.

“Transcriptions are often erroneous and subjective, so it is very interesting for the boys to compare their own work with the museum’s transcription, and to contribute to Barnet’s history in such an active way.”

Once the pupils’ transcription has been completed and it and the Barnet Museum transcription have been digitised, they will both be published on QE Collections.

In the face of history: from the Great Hall to the Great War, boys explore the rich story of Hampton Court Palace

Year 8 pupils who headed for Hampton Court Palace on the first whole-year History trip since the pandemic struck enjoyed the added bonus of a special exhibition about Indian soldiers in the First World War.

At the palace, the boys learned about Tudor life and saw at first-hand evidence of the School’s own links with the Tudor monarchy. They also had the opportunity to see a special exhibition and art installation – on for this month only – featuring silhouetted figures of Sikh soldiers from the British Empire’s Indian Army.

The display, entitled Standing with Giants at Hampton Court Palace, commemorates the soldiers from the Indian Army who camped in the palace gardens in the summer of 1919 following the signing of the Versailles Peace Treaty, marking the formal end of the First World War, or ‘Great War’. Along with other troops from nations across the British Empire, they had sailed to the UK to march in the peace celebrations in London.

Helen MacGregor, Head of History and Politics, said: “The silhouetted figures made for a moving display, while the accompanying original letters from soldiers displayed next to them really brought home the fear, danger and reality of life in the trenches.

“Our pupils were fascinated, too, by the carved wooden ceilings in the Great Hall, picturing to themselves Henry VIII sitting under them and also, a few decades later, performances there by Shakespeare’s own theatre company.

“Another point of interest was the beautiful starred ceiling of the Chapel – where the boys were intrigued to find the School motto written some 32 times.” The explanation is that the motto, Dieu et mon droit (God and my right), has been the motto of the UK monarch outside Scotland since the 12th century and was, therefore, the motto of Queen Elizabeth I, in whose reign the School was founded and after whom it is named.

The year group visited Hampton Court over the course of two days.

As well as the grander areas of the buildings, the boys had an opportunity to inspect the huge kitchens that Henry VIII had constructed to feed his 1,000-strong court.

They also saw the Great Vine – the largest grape vine in the world.

Braving the chilly weather, the QE groups enjoyed a walk around the park and formal gardens, during which they spied a herd of deer across a water feature to the rear of the palace.

“The gift shop was another obvious highlight for the pupils – plenty of catapult and cannon pencil sharpeners were purchased!” added Miss MacGregor.


Smoke and mirrors: boys see for themselves the truth behind the horrors of war

This year’s trip to key European battlefield sites contained a special addition – a detour to Versailles, where the eponymous treaty setting out reparations after the end of the First World War was signed in 1919.

Head of History Helen MacGregor said the extra visit proved popular with the boys, for whom the whole trip was organised to fit in with Year 9’s History theme about the changing nature of warfare and to explore the links between World War I and World War II.

“Despite persistent rain and the crowds, the boys thoroughly enjoyed themselves at Versailles and were particularly fascinated by the Hall of Mirrors, where they re-enacted the signing of the Versailles Treaty,” she said. The group also took the opportunity to wander in the Palace of Versailles gardens, enjoying the views of the water features and of the palace itself.

The first stop for the 44 boys and staff on the battlefields trip was Ypres, where they saw the reconstructed trenches at Hill 62, which enabled them to analyse the construction of the trench system.

This was followed by a tour of Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery, where the boys searched out the names of Old Elizabethans who fought and died in the First World War. They included Jack Field, who had been the School Captain and was just 19 when he was killed. In the evening, the pupils watched the daily Menin Gate remembrance ceremony, which was first performed in 1928. Every evening, the busy road through the memorial arch is closed and The Last Post is played.

Towards the end of World War II, on the very evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate, even though bullets were still flying in other parts of the smoke-filled town.

Miss MacGregor said: “The boys were clearly moved by the ceremony and took the time to remember the war dead, including the Sikh regiment who are commemorated there.”

Before moving on, the boys took the opportunity to enjoy the scenery and partake of Belgian waffles, and to buy chocolate for presents and for themselves.

The trip was rounded off with a visit to Calais and the World War II sites of La Coupole and the Blockhouse. They walked around the museums there that record the manufacture and firing of the V1 and V2 rockets.

“The museums were excellent, and the boys really felt the evil inside the abandoned Blockhouse, which is still largely as it was left after the Allied bombardment,” said Miss MacGregor. “We saw moving and informative documentaries at La Coupole, codenamed Building Project 21, about the suffering inflicted by the Nazis during the building programme; using prisoners of war and compulsory work units from concentration camps.”

What and how: boys get new insights into major World War I exhibition from Old Elizabethan curator

A QE old boy treated a group of Year 12 historians to an expert curator’s perspective when they visited the World War I centenary exhibition at the Imperial War Museum (IWM).

Ian Kikuchi (OE 1997-2004) is an historian at the museum who curated its exhibition commemorating the centenary of the Armistice. He took the boys on a tour of the exhibits and talked about his career and the IWM.

The exhibition itself addressed the main issues of the war, from why it started, to what life was really like in the trenches, and the role of women.

Head of History Helen MacGregor said: “It was a great exhibition and a doubly-rewarding visit. History is an abstract subject, so it was fascinating to hear from Ian both about the war and about the decisions made as to what to actually exhibit and the complexities of such a massive undertaking. The boys particularly enjoyed hearing how the tank and planes were moved into the museum – which involved removing ceilings.”

Mr Kikuchi, who took a BA in War Studies from King’s, answered questions after the tour. “The boys really enjoyed hearing how he progressed from working in the IWM’s HMS Belfast shop (while he was at university), to becoming the world expert on aspects of the war in Burma in World War II,” said Miss MacGregor.

Borscht for the boys: pupils sample Russian culture on trip to Moscow and St Petersburg

Sixth-formers enjoyed some traditional food – as well as plentiful helpings of History and Politics – on their trip to Russia.

The party of 30 boys from Years 12 and 13, along with four members of staff, landed in Moscow for a six-day, two-city tour, during which they learned more about Russian life, from the era of the Tsars through the soviet period and up to the present day.

Helen MacGregor, Head of History, said: “It was a great trip; the boys really got into the culture of the country. The visit not only increased their understanding of their A-level History material but also of modern-day politics, including the reasons for the evident popularity of President Putin among Russian voters.”

Among the highlights were visits to Red Square and to the dark marble pyramid that is Lenin’s Mausoleum. “He died in 1924 and the boys have learned so much about him, so it was amazing to actually see him,” said Miss MacGregor. The boys also saw Stalin’s resting place in the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.

In the afternoon they had a guided tour of the Novodevichy Cemetery. Constructed in 1898 its importance dates to the 1930s when it became home to the remains of famous Russians whose bodies were disinterred when Stalin ordered the demolition of the abbeys. Anton Chekhov, Nikita Kruschev and Boris Yeltsin are among those buried at Novodevichy.

In the evening there was a total change of mood with a visit to the HC Spartak Ice Hockey stadium. The group stayed in a hotel for the first night where they partook of traditional Russian fare, namely borscht and cabbage soup. “The boys enjoyed trying the local food, but Moscow’s McDonalds was also a hit,” added Miss MacGregor.

After a second day of sightseeing in Moscow, which took in the Patriotic War Museum and the Metro, the boys relished a game of bowling. They then took the Grand Express overnight train to travel the 800 kms to St Petersburg. “It was so exciting to be whizzing through Russia in the dark to arrive in St Petersburg the following morning,” said Miss MacGregor.

“The boys were blown away by the beauty of the palaces there. So much gold and decoration, including the Amber Room in the Catherine Palace, which had to be recreated after it was dismantled and disappeared during WWII, presumably looted by the Nazis.”

Whilst in St Petersburg, the boys went to a Soviet Arcade Machine Museum where they tried out a selection of old games, including pinball and table football.

On the final morning, the boys went to the Hermitage Museum, which boasts the second largest art collection in the world, ranked second only to The Louvre in Paris. The museum and gallery were founded by Catherine the Great and house a collection of more than 3 million items, although only a small proportion is on public display at any one time.

Miss MacGregor said: “Trips both support what the boys learn in the classroom whilst offering them unique enrichment opportunities. They returned with much greater insight into the topics they have been studying, having had a thoroughly enjoyable experience.”

The way we were: old boys share memories of the School from more than half a century ago

QE under long-serving Headmaster Ernest Jenkins (1930-1961) was so strict that a prefect punished a boy for buying an ice-cream without wearing his School cap…on a Sunday afternoon.

This was just one of the anecdotes which three alumni from the 1940s–60s shared with current Year 7 pupils to help them with a project looking at the history of the School. In a special assembly, they recalled a School that, like today’s QE, enjoyed both academic and sporting success, yet one which was in many ways very different.

Ken Cooper (OE 1942–1950), David Farrer (1954–1961) and John Todd (1958–1964) were introduced by Head of History Helen MacGregor. There was an opportunity for the Year 7 boys to ask them questions, which typically focused largely on the disciplinary regime of the time!

The hapless young ice-cream buyer was ordered to write lines when he was caught bare-headed one hot weekend making his purchase from a shop near his home in Southgate. Although the older pupil was within his rights – prefects of the time were authorised to dole out such punishments and boys were supposed to wear their caps even when not at school – the visiting alumni recalled that he was considered by his classmates to have gone too far, even by the strict standards of the day.

The three visitors reminded the boys that the School was much smaller in the 1940s and 1950s, with a roll of only about 400-450 boys, split into four Houses, not the current six. The School was very much less diverse and boys typically lived very locally.

All indoor activities took place in QE’s Main Building, with the hall even being used for lunch for a time after the refectory was bombed by the Luftwaffe in 1941. The lunches themselves were reported to have been dreadful. “The potatoes were black; the meat looked like it had come off the bottom of someone’s shoe,” said Mr Cooper.

At first, all that lay behind the Main Building was the ‘Gun Field’. Later, an unheated, open-air swimming pool was built; boys were expected to swim in it in all weathers.

The whole School met each morning for assembly, addressed by the Headmaster in his gown: all masters (teachers) wore gowns daily, while prefects wore half-length undergraduate-type gowns.

School ran six days a week, with games on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons. Sport was a huge part of School life and was very popular: the best memories of many Old Elizabethans from that era are from sports on Stapylton Field, the visitors stated. The rugby and cricket were both good, and QE established a very strong reputation in athletics. Fixtures against the top public schools had been established by Mr Jenkins (pictured below), who modelled the School on such institutions during his long headmastership, which extended from 1930–1961.

During his tenure, the strictness of the regime was seen in the use of corporal punishment. The cane was still very much in use and boys could, in the schoolboy slang of the time, be ‘whacked’ for a variety of misdemeanours. The three alumni reported, though, that they accepted this as being a normal part of school education and thought that there was usually good reason for the punishment! Mr Todd recalled going to be caned and being asked to select which of three different canes should be used. He remembered being concerned that it would be very obvious that he had hidden a workbook down the back of his trousers to cushion the blows, although this was, in fact, not commented upon by the master.

While much has obviously changed, the visitors reflected that in 2018, just as in their day, expectations at the School are high, both in terms of behaviour and of academic attainment. A grammar school then and now, QE through to the early 1960s had a good reputation for sending boys to Oxbridge and other top universities, albeit in a context in which only about 3% of sixth-formers nationally went on to university, with most school-leavers going straight into employment.

Although they had very positive memories of their time at QE, the three visiting old boys were in little doubt that the fabric of the School, the opportunities available to boys and the outcomes achieved are all very much better now.

Year 7 will be continuing their work on the History project through the rest of this term.

Broad perspective: trip to the trenches helps boys understand World War I both emotionally and analytically

Forty-four Year 9 boys visited the major battle sites and cemeteries from World War I in a trip designed to reinforce their classroom History lessons on the conflict.

With plenty of opportunity to walk through preserved trenches just as this year’s poppies were starting to flower, the boys had time to reflect on life in the trenches. Some sites illustrated the global nature of the conflict, showing the role of countries from the British Empire and Commonwealth – particularly Canada and nearby Newfoundland.

History teacher Simon Walker said: “The trip was important both emotionally and analytically, helping students understand how trench warfare worked and appreciate the experience of those who fought, as well as giving them an opportunity to reflect on the cost of war and consider what we can learn from the way soldiers have been memorialised.”

The trip aligned closely with the Year 9 scheme of work, which covers the changing nature of warfare up to 1945, with World War I a major topic.

On their visit to one site, Vimy Ridge, the guides for the QE boys and the four accompanying members of staff were students on a programme funded by the Canadian government, reflecting the national importance of the site in Canada.

One striking contrast was seen in the ways the fallen were commemorated at:

  • Tyne Cot cemetery – the resting place of more than 11,900 servicemen of the British Empire at the battlefield of the Third Battle of Ypres (also known as the Battle of Passchendaele), where boys learned that many bodies could not be identified.
  • Thiepval Memorial – commemorating 72,246 British and South African servicemen known to have died in the Battles of the Somme whose bodies could not be found.
  • Essex Farm cemetery – a smaller Allied cemetery, with some moving examples of men from the ‘pals’ battalions’ who died on the same day being buried with their headstones touching to show solidarity between them.
  • Beaumont-Hamel – the site of a memorial as well as trenches where Newfoundlanders fought during the Somme campaign; with 84% of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment battalion dying, the conflict brought devastation to some communities, depriving Newfoundland of most of its young men and seriously damaging its economy.
  • The German Langemark cemetery – here, all graves are communal, with one huge mass grave in the middle and thousands of tiny names engraved on the stones around it. The headstones are very plan slabs laid flat on the ground, the relative lack of dignity in burial illustrating the hostility of Belgians towards Germans after the war. (The mass grave was partly because the Belgians would not grant the Germans enough land for individual burials.

Other memorable highlights of the trip to the sites in France and Belgium included the sight of Lochnagar Crater, the biggest crater of World War I, where boys learned about tunnelling and the use of mines. They attended the Last Post ceremony at Menin Gate in Ypres to commemorate soldiers lost in the 1914–1918 – a ceremony performed every evening since 1927, even during World War II. They also learned how medical provision developed during the conflict, visiting a field hospital where John McCrae worked as a surgeon and composed his famous poem, In Flanders Fields.

On the final day came visits to La Coupole and Blockhaus Bunker, which were sites for the production and launch of V1 and V2 rockets during World War II, where there was information on the role of concentration camp slave labour used by the Nazis. “These visits helped to develop students’ understanding of the changing nature of warfare in World War II, as well as providing a foundation for the space race and arms race topics that form an important part of the GSCE Conflict and Tension unit on the Cold War.

There were lighter moments, too, including a popular visit to the Leonida chocolate shop and the time when the boys’ keen-eyed coach driver spotted a World War I wire fence post unearthed and left at the roadside by a local farmer.

Overall, said Mr Walker, the trip gave boys “an opportunity to deepen their understanding of the Year 9 theme about the changing nature of warfare, whilst also giving them personal experiences and time to reflect in order to help them develop and articulate their own emotional responses”. In addition, it supported understanding of the genocide topic being covered in the second half of term, and of GCSE topics including the Cold War and the Health and the People unit.