Schools encouraged to explore “moral and ethical themes” in new guidance for Armistice Day

Wednesday, 07 November 2018

Remembrance Day image

New guidance has been shared with schools on how children and young people might consider important themes including war, loss and reconciliation for Armistice Day.

Research conducted by academics at Oxford Brookes University and partner institutions for the Remembrance in Schools project has informed the materials. The resource has been shared with schools across Oxfordshire.

Remembering those who lost their lives in conflict benefits society as a whole and it helps to establish connections across generations. Remembrance Day also provides an opportunity to consider more complex moral and ethical themes

Dr Patrick Alexander, Director of Oxford Brookes’ Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development

In addition to suggesting creative activities and links to resources, school leaders are encouraged to consider how they might discuss ethical themes related to conflict.

An element of the five year research project explored how young people associate with national identity and the question of British values which has increasingly been a topic of debate in recent years.

As well as remembering those who made great sacrifices in battle, schools are encouraged to consider how they engage with pupils on the wider impacts of war. This might include asking pupils to consider:

• whether they are commemorating lost relatives, those from the wider community, soldiers from allied countries or anyone killed during times of conflict
• how they feel about those who disagreed with war such as the conscientious objectors and why some people now choose to wear white poppies signifying peace
• what impact war has on children, families and communities who are often caught up in conflict.

The project leaders for the guidance are Dr Susannah Wright and Dr Annie Haight.

Dr Wright said of the project: “After working closely with a number of schools we have produced information to support pupils in exploring the important questions raised by remembrance.”

Dr Haight added: “Our aim was not to suggest a best way to practice remembrance, but rather to help schools to explore ideas, views and experiences and to think about creative approaches which encourage children and young people to engage with the commemorations.”

Dr Patrick Alexander, Director of Oxford Brookes’ Centre for Educational Consultancy and Development, commented: “Remembering those who lost their lives in conflict benefits society as a whole and it helps to establish connections across generations. Remembrance Day also provides an opportunity to consider more complex moral and ethical themes. This might include discussions on longstanding values including national identity and areas which our research demonstrated was rarely discussed in schools such as the effects of colonialism.”

Academics from Oxford Brookes worked with a number of partners including the University of Oxford, Brunel University, Oxford Quakers and schools in Oxfordshire and Berkshire as part of the Remembrance in Schools Project.

The new guidance pamphlet  – Planning Remembrance Day Events in Your School – is available for free download from the Oxford Brookes website. Based on feedback from activities this year, the researchers intend to produce a second edition of the pamphlet provided to schools for 2019.