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North Lakes School chosen to represent UK in Battle of the Somme education programme

[N]orth Lakes Junior School has been selected to represent the United Kingdom in a special education programme to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.

As living memory of what was one of the deadliest battles of the First World War fades, the programme – designed by the British Council – aims to raise awareness of the significance of World War One and the importance of UK-France relations in continuing peace and stability in Europe today.

As the sole representative of schools from the North West of England, North Lakes School will help to forge partnerships with schools in the Somme region in France to allow pupils from both countries to discuss their shared history, build friendships and to commemorate those who lost their lives in the Battle of the Somme, 100 years on. The highlight of the programme will be a face to face workshop for all of the schools involved to take place over a week in June/July 2016.

Headteacher Mike Pincombe said: “This is a unique opportunity for the children of North Lakes School. It is a tremendous privilege for us to be attending the event and it is remarkable that we will be in France, one hundred years to the day, (on the 1st July 1916), when the “Lonsdale Pals” from Cumbria attacked along with so many other battalions from all over Britain. This amazing learning opportunity is being made the basis of the school’s curriculum this term. We are building a link with our French colleagues from Lehaucourt, and this project will give a great boost to our understanding of the French language as well as bringing real meaning to our History, Art, and Philosophy work this term. We are grateful to many local partners, including Carlisle and Penrith museums, the Royal British Legion, St Andrew’s Church and to UCC in Penrith for their support.”

Martyn Soulsby, Year 5/6 teacher commented: “The Battle of the Somme is one of the most tragic battles of the First World War, in which more than one million men were lost. By engaging young people with their shared history, they can build understanding, skills and friendships for the future. This direct link with pupils and staff from a French school at such a historic occasion is a wonderful opportunity.”

The programme is financed by the Department of Media and Sport and delivered in partnership with the French Académie of Amiens and the Mission for the Centenary of the First World War.

The British Council has also created a special education pack for schools to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. The pack contains resources to help students develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the conflict. It covers topics including experiences of the Somme from around the Commonwealth, Pals Battalions, conscription, recruitment and remembrance today.

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