Our Stories, Our Histories
An In-depth Local Area Study by St Thomas’ CE Primary School
The project, ‘Our Stories, Our Histories’ began in 2014 when we set about giving more voice to members of our school community – the children, the parents and the staff. In the first year of the project, our aim was for pupils and staff to find out more about their own family histories, and each other. At this stage the project focused on autobiographical research (family trees and oral stories passed from one generation to the next). After reading the memoirs of others; taking part in workshops by authors; oral story-telling sessions; and activities for staff, pupils and parents to learn together, every pupil and staff member in the school wrote an autobiographical text about themselves or their family. These were then published in beautiful handmade books and illustrated with self-portraits.
The second year of the project was borne out of a desire for both pupils and staff to learn more about the history of the local area – an area with a rich history and unique character; an area the school is proud to be part of. The initial part of this was titled: ‘The Word on the Street’ and was a geographical study. Pupils began by learning more about the local area through map work, observation, and surveying – much of which was carried out on fieldtrips in the local vicinity. Each class then focused on a particular area of geographical study in more detail, which linked to the historical line of enquiry they would follow in the next term.
The second stage of the project was titled: ‘Who Do We Think We Are?’ During this term, each class was given a historical question about local history to answer. Topics studied included: play, homes, laundries, businesses, transport, the arts, and migration. Throughout this part of the project, pupils took part in many workshops and field trips to enhance the learning experience – as much as possible we used local resources: organisations, groups, places of interest and (most importantly) people so that pupils and staff could learn from those in the community around them.
The third and final stage of the project is titled: ‘The World is a Stage’. In this, the whole school has turned their creative talents towards presenting the work from the project. A 50-minute documentary titled, ‘Standing at the Crossroads’ has been launched and shown at The Tabernacle; a magazine titled ‘Our Stories, Our Histories’ has been published; and pupils have created ‘The St Thomas’ Museum’ to exhibit their work. They have also designed and created Carnival costumes and artwork and paraded these to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Notting Hill Carnival.
We would like to thank all members and groups from the local community who have supported our project – your contributions at every stage, from planning, to running workshops, to advertising events, have been invaluable and of great benefit to St Thomas’ CE Primary School.