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Case study 1 – St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Uxbridge

The Head Teacher, Ms Ann ShevlinBuilding on History- School Project Summary

Case Study 1 – St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Uxbridge

A report by the Head Teacher, Ms Ann Shevlin

St. Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Uxbridge participated in the Building on History school project in the autumn term of 2012, studying both the local parish church, Our Lady of Lourdes and St Michael Catholic Church and the school community. 249 children were involved, from Nursery to Year 6.

Father Nicholas SchofieldAt the start of the project the staff met together to discuss ideas and areas each year group would like to study. The school also looked at all archive information for ideas and Fr. Nicolas, our parish priest, also provided the school with archive information from the church. 

We had old photographs of pupils and teachers over a couple of decades. One of the most interesting things about the photographs was that they showed us how the building had changed over the years. The school also found old inspection reports and information about the school. We also had old photographs of the church that showed how it had changed and how the area around the church had been developed over the years.

After the initial meeting the staff came back together for another meeting to agree what each class would study. We also decided as a staff to display all the archive information in the school hall (We had boxes of old photographs) and invited any past pupils into the school to look at the information and talk to the staff about their experiences of going to the school and the local church. Some of the past pupils wrote down some of their memories and also agreed to come back to the school to talk to the children.

The younger children in the school (Early Years and Key Stage One) based most of their research around studying old pictures and comparing changes. They recorded their evidence in both drawings and sticking down pictures, sorting them into old and new. The Early Years also spent a lot of time orally recording observations and developing the language relating to the passing of time and change.
Key Stage Two children based a lot of their research on interviews, using resources and evidence from the past. Children also did research at home talking to their parents and relatives and also doing some internet research.

The feedback from the teachers was very positive. The children really enjoyed learning more about the school and church which are already very much part of their daily lives. In the Early Years it really supported their language development and also their ability to work together in small groups. The children also developed their sorting skills when they had to sort old and present day photographs.

From the work produced by the Key Stage One children it was really clear they had put a lot of effort into observing closely the changes between past and present.  Even children who don’t normally produce much detail in their drawing had made a real effort and you could clearly see how they had observed the changes. They also talked about their drawings and changes they had observed from pictures and seeing the church.

Key Stage Two children spent time at home doing research and they learnt about extracting information from resources. Some children also had the opportunity to interview adults about their experiences and use the information from these interviews. The project gave the children the opportunity to develop new skill in using resources to gather information.

Feedback from the children was that they found the project very interesting and they were very interested in sharing their work.
I would definitely encourage other schools to develop history projects looking at their local church and the school community. We were surprised at the resources we had in the school that we could use to share with the children. Speaking to parishioners and parent/grandparents was also very helpful to develop the oral history of the parish/ school community.  The project as well as developing the historical skills of the children also supported other areas of the curriculum. Both children and the staff became a lot more interested in learning more about the history of the local community.

Areas of Study for each Class

Nursery Children

The nursery children learnt about what happened at their Christening. Families sent in photographs and some Christening robes for the children to look at and discuss. All the work was oral and involved the children looking at the photographs of each other.
See the nursery children's work

Reception Children

The children all sorted out pictures of the school and the church. They sorted them into old and new. The children talked in groups about why they picked picture, how they knew they were old pictures and the reasons for sorting the pictures into different groups.
See the reception children's work

Year One

Year One did observational drawings of the church today and the church in the 1930s. They spent a lot of time looking at old photographs and discussing them with each other. The children talked about the changes and recorded them in their drawings.
See Year One's work

Year Two

The Year Two children looked at architects drawings of the church and photographs. They looked at how the church had changed over the years. They then did collage work of pictures of the church and the school.
See Year Two's work

Year Three

Year Three are making their First Holy Communion this year. They found out about family members who have made it and compared what it is like for them preparing for their First Communion. They also found out about the history of the church. The children made little booklets and wrote about their findings.
See Year Three's work

Year Four

The children researched the history of the church. They visited the church and looked at archive information Fr. Nicolas had lent the school. They found a lot of evidence from old photographs. The children then wrote about their findings. The listed all the changes they could find.
See Year Four's work

Year Five

Year Five researched how the church and the school had changed over time. They interviewed people and researched the history of the church and school. Year five also did some research work at home on the project and wrote about their findings. Year Five also did research at home on the project and made use of all resources.
See Year Five's work

Year Six

The children compared an old inspection report from 1950 with the 2012 Ofsted report. They used any archive information the school had. The children also did research at home for the project studying information about the church and school.
They also interviewed different people regarding the history of the school and church. The children then wrote about their findings.
See Year Six's work


Royal Holloway
Arts and Humanities Research Council

In partnership between The Open University and Royal Holloway, funded by the AHRC.