Arousing a child’s curiosity is an intrinsic part of education and engagement. It’s why Floella Benjamin’s Coming to England has a version for each primary key stage and why Benjamin Zephaniah’s Windrush Child is chosen for students at secondary school. Children ask questions about our world, its history and people, and they want answers.
This year, Windrush Day on June 22nd will mark 75 years since the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury bringing the initial symbolic generation of people from countries in the Caribbean to Britain. It’s a great opportunity to teach young people about events leading up to and following that day. There are opportunities to make links to lots of curricular areas such as literacy, music, art, sport, geography, PSHE and drama. Through a comprehensive study of the Windrush generation alone (1948 – 1971), pupils can learn about Britain, legislation, the commonwealth, World War 2, the NHS, transportation migration, colonisation, discrimination, tolerance, achievement and success.
Feed their curiosity: learn about a local hidden hero
Teachers can use Windrush 75 to teach young people about significant events and people. This fits neatly into the key stage 1 curriculum, changes within living memory, and an aspect or theme within British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge in key stage 2. The curation of materials on the Herts Memories website is a fantastic place to start as it features newspaper clippings, photos and recordings. From the Stories of Success, children can learn more about the local hidden heroes like Henry ‘Roy’ Brown who played for Watford and Reba Younge who came to Stevenage as a nurse and later retrained to become an educator and anti-racist campaigner. Eric Blakeley and Gurdev Delay produced a booklet for North Herts Museum entitled North Herts African Caribbean Roots which they dedicated to the Windrush Generation and features photos, pictures, memories, poetry and insights into the lives of those who made Hertfordshire their new home. Perhaps you could find out from your school community if anyone is part of this generation and would like to visit the school and share their experience, skills, photos and memories.
Read and listen together
This could be a great opportunity to teach children about oral history using the Barnardo’s oral history project. They could listen to testimonies, read first person accounts (inspire me-the story of Windrush) and read poetry and stories from and about this generation. At HFL Education, units have been produced to support teaching children in primary school about Windrush. If you haven’t already, have a look at the schemes of work on National Windrush Day, Coming to England, and Overheard in a Tower Block, as well as a wide array of resources on antiracism.
Attend a local event
Kickoff@3 organised a wonderful celebration and charity football event that took place at Oaklands School on 24th June. There was a musical performance by St Albans community choir, stalls, food and entertainment. If you missed it, you can also listen to Lily May’s BBC3 Counties Radio Music show on the BBC iPlayer (Sunday 18th June 2023) as this was dedicated to celebrating Windrush. Next Page Books in Hitchin have planned a Windrush-themed storytime followed by a craft session which took place on 24th June. They were also sharing Windrush books on their social media. There was also an event at the Watford Museum on 22nd June which included a short presentation on tracing your Caribbean family history with stalls from local community groups too.
David Olusoga’s key stage 1 and 2 versions of Black and British provide young people with accessible information and a timeline about Windrush. In these texts they can explore the role of WW2, the 1948 British Nationality Act, the creation of the NHS, hiring policies with London Transport, government legislation, cultural shifts and impact. Pupils will also be introduced to the Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 and the Race Relations Act of 1965, as well as the Notting Hill Carnival. For leaders wanting to deepen their pupils’ knowledge, you could also refer to the History Association, where Helen Crawford Primary (journal issue 94) provides excellent guidance such as How can we teach this valuable topic? If this is an area of interest, you could find out more from the books that shaped the black British experience list.
Escape into the Spirit of Windrush
There is a veritable smorgasbord of events taking place in relation to the anniversary of Windrush. For your one-stop-shop, look no further than Windrush75 Network who are working to make the year one of national celebrations. There are lots of events, talks and exhibitions to choose from. Royal Museums Greenwich and Caribbean Social have partnered to create a range of celebrations which you can attend in person at the National Maritime Museum, listen to or watch online. Find out more here. The V&A Museum have created a whole season of events, some of which will close at the end of the year. There’s a webinar about the diversity coin, display on tracing legacy, a hidden Caribbean tour, portraits, workshops and talks. BBC Arts have created a documentary which explores the Windrush: Portraits of a Pioneering Generation. You could also pass through Waterloo Station and visit the National Windrush Monument created by Basil Watson.
With passenger lists to explore, photographs and art from then and now, newspaper articles, documentaries and much more, all readily available, there’s never been a better time to explore and engage with Windrush. Finding out more, imagining yourself in a different place and time, researching and discovering, using stories to learn, empathise and care, are key steps in childhood and lifelong learners.
Ignite your curiosity. This anniversary - Windrush 75 – could be enlightening.
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