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British Museum and TES announce the winner of the Huge History Lesson

The British Museum

THE BRITISH Museum and TES have announced Coopers Edge School in Brockworth, Gloucestershire as the winner of the Huge History Lesson, which drew 100 short films and other submissions from schools across the country. The project is also supported by Arts Council England.

The Huge History Lesson is an initiative designed to encourage schools to discover the incredible stories to be found in museums, through their objects and collections. Coopers Edge School’s winning film focuses on a Hawker Typhoon airplane from the Jet Age Museum and the women’s war effort during WWII.

The project challenged children at both primary and secondary level to develop and submit a creative presentation about an object from a local or national museum.

The Typhoon is of great local significance to Coopers Edge School, since the original Typhoon was built on their school site. Gloucestershire’s Jet Age Museum is currently restoring a Typhoon. The pupils, aged 7-11, decided to make their presentation in the form of a video, which included visual and online research, interviews, re-enactments, a visit to the Jet Age Museum and close study of their plane.

Their prize was to tell the story of their object on and the British Museum’s YouTube channel as well as a unique behind-the-scenes tour of the British Museum.

The children extended their historical investigations at the British Museum looking at drawings of women at work in WWII, by artist Ethel Gabain. They met curators and finally had a special ceremony where TV history star Dan Snow presented them with winners’ certificates, along with tea and a special Typhoon aircraft cake.

The winning video can be seen at

The Huge History Lesson, which was part of an initiative by TES to help millions of teachers make use of cultural resources, received over 100 entries from schools across the country. The submissions were judged by a panel from the British Museum, TES and Arts Council England.

Commenting on the winning submission Susan Raikes, Head of Learning and National Partnerships at the British Museum, said:

“The students from Coopers Edge School asked intelligent questions that drew on a variety of sources and worked very closely with their local museum, including interviewing people with first hand experiences. They looked at ephemera such as maps and photographs of the original factory site and mechanical drawings of the plane as part of their submission. We felt they had grasped the idea of object based learning and had used the Typhoon as a springboard to tell an important story, nationally and locally.”

A highlight of the film is an interview with Peggy Fisher and Phyllis Gough, who worked on building Typhoon aircrafts during World War II, on the very site of the school. The video revealed Peggy and Phyllis’ personal connections to the object. The students extended this narrative to better understand life for women and their local area during World War II.

The students also visited the Jet Age Museum to see the Typhoon being restored, interview volunteers working on the project and explore the engineering behind building a Typhoon.

Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education Advisor of TES, said: “Coopers Edge School rose to the challenge of the Huge History Lesson brilliantly. Their choice of object unlocked a richness of learning and research that brought together drama, history, film and so much more. They captured exactly what we were hoping for in the Huge History Lesson – a broad learning journey stimulated by a single object in a local museum.”

Darren Henley, Chief Executive, Arts Council England said: “The Huge History Lesson is a great example of how arts and culture can encourage creativity right across the curriculum. The initiative was launched to coincide with our Cultural Education Challenge, which urges all those working in arts and education to come together and offer a consistent cultural education for all. We will continue to work together with TES to help develop a range of tools that can help to encourage creative engagement across all subjects leading to a deeper engagement with learning.”

Ewan Johnson, teacher at Coopers Edge School, said: “It was also hugely important for our students’ understanding of their community and the world. We are a new school with a highly diverse catchment and finding out about our site helped build crucial links between newer and older members of our community. The interviews with the Typhoon builders were particularly important in this. Having our work acknowledged and visiting the British Museum raised all our aspirations, showing the children that historical research and curating were real jobs and allowing us all to feel that imaginative work will be recognised even if its source seems unlikely.”

Runners up

Lavender Pond Home Education Group on the Clapton logboat at Hackney Museum.

St Nicholas House School, Norfolk on the log boat at Time and Tide Museum in Great Yarmouth.

Chulmleigh Community College, Devon on the Tivvy Bumper steam train in the Tiverton Museum.

Highly commended

The Sutton Hoo poems and animations by Christopher Hatton School, London.

The Whatsapp conversation between an Athenian drachma and a pupil from Upton Hall School, Wirral.