Many teachers and students have used the “Vickers VC Trench” and our World War One Experience Days to help with their studies. The Vickers VC Trench has been the catalyst for some exceptional student outcomes. In this section we look at how this unique resource has engaged learners and helped secure exceptional outcomes.
Key Stage 3 Drama and Music
Heritage, Community Traditions, and Identity in Birmingham
The project looked at some of Birmingham’s ‘lost’ communities. It reflected the experience of upheaval and change, when people move to a new place; and the way that heritage can maintain a sense of identity and continuity.
The 19th and 20th centuries saw waves of different populations moving to the city. There was an Italian quarter in Digbeth, for example, and a Jewish quarter around Ellis Street. To a significant extent, these communities have now dispersed.
We wanted to look at both short and long distance migration. We were interested in the way that moving just a short distance – to a new estate, for example – can cause an upheaval, and mean that community traditions can be lost.
Our aims were:
- to raise awareness of the role different communities have played in Birmingham’s history
- to increase young people’s awareness of the history of the area where they live, and the population changes that have happened over time
- to record and preserve folk traditions that might otherwise be lost
- to raise awareness of the part that heritage plays in creating and sustaining people’s sense of identity
- to reflect on the impact of upheaval and change on a community
- to engage young people in local history and heritage; and to develop skills and build confidence
The project engaged five different schools. Participants undertook a range of activities including: oral history interviews; film-making; archival research; website construction; and drama performances. They also created and hosted an exhibition, to communicate their findings to the public. Materials have been deposited in the Local Studies Archive of Birmingham Library, and videos have also been posted on YouTube.
Our Vickers VC Trench enabled CTC Kingshurst Academy drama students to look at the story of Arthur Vickers, who grew up in Aston in the last years of the 19th century. Descendants of the Vickers family now live in the Kingshurst area and they have visited the “Vickers VC Trench”. The students worked with a writer, David Calcutt, and with a filmmaker, and produced their own film, based on Arthur Vicker’s life.
We were delighted that the project was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund Young Roots Project (YR-15-03890). To find out more about this project please contact Lee Fletcher at the academy (email@example.com) or see www.hlf.org.uk to be the first to know about announcements, project openings, research, reports and other news from the heritage sector including grant applications.
If you wish to emulate the project and develop a drama project, please contact David Calcutt and Midland Actors Theatre (www.midlandactorstheatre.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org; 0121 608 7144).
Post-16 IB Art & Design
'Shadows' by Charlotte Burford
The Vickers VC Trench was the catalyst for Year 13 student Charlotte Burford to complete her IB art work. Here, she presents her curatorial rationale.
Overall, concept and ideas
On initial exploration into my exhibition, my main theme is shadows. Shadows show the contrast between light and dark. I decided to link my work with war, the shadows will show the lives lost during the war. The dark shows how people’s lives have been affected by their past including things like war and loss of lives. This will make my work relevant to other people.
Selection of work
The initial exploration of the theme shadows, lead to my first outcome “evacuees”. This revolves around children being evacuated due to the war and leaving the past behind. I decided to put the children in the front and the planes in the background to show they are moving away from the war to a place where it is safer. This piece was created with influence from Hans Liska and Claude Monet, I took influence from the way they used pencil to create shadows in a certain way.
My next piece “flying though time” is influence by Banksy I took the use of red and black from his work. This links into war as I used the planes from war and the shadows show the past and how planes impacted lives. In my work, I used stencils like Banksy to create my work, his work puts across a very important message. Banksy work shows that he doesn’t care that graffiti is illegal he cares about putting his message across to other people.
My last piece “soldier boy” show a soldier who has been in war, I made the figure all white and joined can together, making a bullet wound in the chest showing the white underneath. It shows the many lives that were lost during the war and how it impacts their families lives, it shows how loved the solider was and how they have fought for their country. It also shows that war shouldn’t be happening in this society as we are meant to be a civil society. I was inspired by Ray Lonsdale and George Segal. I took inspiration from George Segal with the white figures and Ray Lonsdale with the bullet wound in the chest.
I arranged my work to be mounted on two boards to spread my work out so you could see it clearly. I put my sculpture on the right and attached it to the easel to make it stand up and put a helmet on the head of the soldier to link it to war. I placed it further forward to make it stand out, also placed black material to make the white sculpture stand out against the black background. I placed the cloth on the left and draped it over a chair, the black background makes the white cloth and the red stand out and draw more attention. I decided to put a black background to make the shadows stand out as I wanted to contrast the colours. These will link to most people as most know someone who has been in the war or they have lost someone due to the war. I picked out these pieces as these were my best ones and conveyed my theme the best.
Miss Kimberley outlines how the trench experience was used to engage learners and improve outcomes.
“Their theme for their GCSE project is ‘Journey’ and as a class we started to look at the journey of life and death. As the project developed we decided to look at War and Conflict and how this affects our lives which led to some of our pupils taking some of their own photographs in and around the trench to get a feel for what it must have been like for the soldiers back in the Great Wars. They have started to develop several pieces of work and will hopefully gain some good marks from their project.”