WATFORD SCHOOLS CULTURAL HERITAGE PROJECT
WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?
Following a successful bid in March 2018 for EU funding Bromet School was awarded an unprecedented grant of almost 200,000 Euros to work with three other Watford primary schools and two schools in Spain on an exciting international cultural heritage project called “Who Do We Think We Are?”
Bromet Primary School is leading the project which is co-funded by ERASMUS+. The schools involved are Bromet, Oxhey Wood, Parkgate and Holywell in the UK and in Spain we have partners in Tenerife and Cordoba.
The aim of the project is to broaden pupils’ horizons whilst celebrating who they are and where they come from, to help the children discover their personal family stories, learn about their local heritage and consider how this relates not only to a shared national story but also an international one.
To achieve these aims we have implemented a wide range of activities across all schools. Every class has been linked to a class in Spain and spent the last two years exchanging information, completing projects and sharing learning.
As a whole school activity, each child, along with their family, created a “Heritage Box” telling their personal history. The boxes were as diverse as the children themselves, filled with stories, old photos, objects, heirlooms, handed down recipes, maps, family trees, interviews with older family members, even family secrets and quirky “myths”. The boxes were been shared proudly with peers in school (both at home and in Spain) and then with the wider community through exhibitions at Watford Museum and the Watford Family History Centre.
Each school has worked on a variety of local history projects with Historic England not only to discover our local story but also to understand the importance of our shared heritage and why it should be preserved. Historic England provided CPD and resources and took the children on local “Discovery Walks”. For example, Bromet School visited local churches to see the war memorials. They then researched the lives of local men who died in the First World War and, as part of the Armistice commemorations, the children wrote up their stories and uploaded them to the Historic England website as part of the national “Enrich the List” project. Our work with Historic England has won each school a “Heritage School Award” – the first schools in Hertfordshire to gain this recognition.
Last but not least, an exciting part of the project has been that the funding has allowed a group of children from each school to travel to Spain as “Language and Cultural Ambassadors” to visit our partner schools in Cordoba and Tenerife and to meet the children they have been working alongside. They have been given an amazing opportunity to take their learning out of the classroom, to discover a new heritage, history and culture and to experience life and learning in a new environment and context. Sixty Year 5 and 6 pupils have returned from these visits with new skills (particularly foreign language skills), a new-found confidence and resilience, improved self-esteem and an enthusiastic and positive attitude to other countries, cultures and ways of living. The children have been sharing their experiences through a series of assemblies and presentations to their own school community, peers, parents, governors, and the wider community through visits to other schools.
The project has been a wonderful opportunity to reach out beyond our individual school communities, to create meaningful and lasting links across our schools, both in Watford and in Spain, to celebrate our diversity and to promote intercultural understanding. There have been so many benefits, some planned and many unexpected. The project has shown the children that they have an important part to play as the future custodians of our cultural heritage and that respecting and preserving culture and heritage is part of our social responsibility. It has allowed our children to understand their place in the world, to take pride in where they live and where they come from. Teachers too have had new opportunities to work collaboratively across a variety of very different schools, sharing good practice.
Although it has been disappointing that the Coronavirus put our second year plans on hold (unfortunately the second group of children who were due to travel to Spain were unable to do so and we were also unable to welcome our Spanish partners to Watford) we have made a big effort to carry on working with our partners virtually. This year we have worked collaboratively on a number of joint projects including Harry Potter, Memories of Lockdown, St Alban’s Cathedral poetry sessions and sharing our cultural heritage. The project will finish on 31st August 2021 but before that we are planning a final event that brings all six schools together online so watch this space!
It has taken a lot of planning but thanks to the hard work and commitment of all teachers and pupils our ERASMUS+ project has been an exciting, memorable and unique exercise. A huge thank you to all involved.
For more information please contact: Juliet Lawson (lead teacher)