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The history of school life - what can it teach us?

5:30pm-6:30pm on Monday 29 March

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 27th March. For events on or after 28th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Before the Second World War, few people went to secondary school; mostly they stayed in primary school until they were 14, then went straight to work. Nowadays, everyone goes to secondary school and stays in education or training until at least 18. What difference does this education make to each of us, and also to the society in which we live?

Many of the experiences we associate with growing up have only been possible since 1945, when for the first time everyone progressed from primary to secondary school. School uniforms, school dinners, exams, sub-cultures, sport (and smoking!) on playing fields, music, drama, science labs, school trips – much of what it means to be a teenager begins with secondary school. And, it has effects that last the rest of your life – access to higher education, the jobs you can do, and the friendships and hobbies that you develop at school and carry with you forever.

Yet examining these novel experiences can also tell us about how society in the UK has changed over time, and by studying secondary school education we can learn about race & ethnicity, gender & sexuality, class & social mobility, and much more.

Generally, pupils don’t learn much about modern British social history, and it’s a topic that’s not widely done at GCSE. However, historians at Cambridge who run a project called Secondary Education and Social Change in the United Kingdom since 1945 have teamed up with four secondary history teachers to convert their research into School Resource Packs, to be used by pupils at Key Stage 3 and above.

This interactive workshop examines how experiences of going to school in post-War Britain are also a good measure of how society has changed since 1945. Professor Peter Mandler will discuss the types of sources historians use when studying this topic – from school magazines, to the layout of schools, to headteachers' log books. Then, history teacher Molly Navey will show how this research can be used in today’s history classrooms.

We encourage young adults, parents, teachers, or anyone else interested to join us.

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Additional Information

Age: Adults, Young Adults 12 – 18
Timing: Live Stream, Available on Demand
Cost: Free
Theme: Explore, Society
Image copyright: Copyright: South West Heritage Trust, reference no.: SHC C/E/4/343/4.

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