"History fires pupils’ curiosities about the past in Britain and the wider world. Pupils consider how the past influences the present, what past societies were like , how these societies organised their politics, and what beliefs and cultures influenced people’s actions. As they do this, pupils develop a chronological framework for their knowledge of significant events and people. They see the diversity of human experience, and understand more about themselves as individuals and members of society. What they learn can influence their decisions about personal choices, attitudes and values.
In history, pupils find evidence, weigh it up and reach their own conclusions. To do this they need to be able to research, sift through evidence, and argue for their point of view – skills that are valued in adult life."
The National Curriculum for England p.14
WHY USE A BATTLEFIELD WITH CHILDREN?
• Battlefields are exciting places to visit because they are often sites where the course of this country’s history was changed forever – for example Bosworth, Hastings and Naseby.
• The lives and deeds of individual heroes and heroines involved in battles catch hold of children’s imaginations and seize their attention.
• Battlefields are the places where the significant rival values of our ancestors were fought over. It is through studying the causes of a battle that children can meaningfully encounter for the first time significant concepts associated with historical study – revolution, monarchy, democracy, government, parliament, religion, aristocracy and power, to name but a few.
• There is something significant for children about a local battlefield linking with major national events that shaped history. Almost all towns and villages in this country have a site where a Civil War skirmish took place, for example. Many children believe that important and exciting historical events always happened elsewhere.
• Each battle has its own story: of skilful tactics, careful planning, surprise and concealment, grim defence and dashing attack, and very often muddle and confusion too. Such stories can be of great interest to children.
• The story of a battle bears witness to the range of extreme human emotion. Those taking part in a battle have their lives changed forever by their experiences. Reading, writing and talking about these experiences can have an impact on children as they learn about concepts such as fear, courage, determination, sorrow, endurance, suffering and hatred felt and witnessed by those involved.
• Battles produce an array of artefacts that children find fascinating, not least of which are the arms and armour associated with a battle. Re-enactment groups and museums can provide excellent support for schools wanting children to see at first hand some of the paraphernalia of battle.
• There are many paintings, drawings, sculptures, models and games devoted to battles and the fields over which they were fought. There are an increasing number of relevant films, videos and television programmes related to battlefields.
• Battlefields are places where children can have their imaginations stirred by tracing the positions and movements of those involved, adding to the conjecture about what happened and by suggesting ways that they might have done things differently had they been in command!
• Studying a battlefield can provide excellent opportunities for children looking critically at the landscape, relating the action on the ground to maps and documents and for evaluating the ways in which armies used the landscape to their advantage.