Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

How is remembrance in schools studied?

Wednesday, 28 March 2018


A joint research project by academics from Oxford Brookes’ School of Education has been looking at how remembrance in schools is studied.

Remembrance activities are often held in British schools in November, to mark events such as the onset of the war or armistice, however, there is very little research into what schools do and why. This project aims to fill this gap, and to develop and launch short published resources to help schools consider approaches to remembrance.

The project was started in 2013 by Dr Susannah Wright, Dr Annie Haight and Dr Patrick Alexander, in addition to Dr David Aldridge (now at Brunel).

The team has already produced one publication - How Ought War to be Remembered in Schools by David Aldridge, and more articles are forthcoming.

Speaking about the project, Susannah says, “Despite being a fixture in all schools, remembrance is a very complex thing. How do we appropriately carry it out in a society that is multiethnic but patriot? Also, how do we address the tension between ‘peaceful’ remembrance and ‘militaristic’ remembrance?”

The project arose out of informal conversations between the  team in their work life. Soon after, they decided to apply their range of skills to the subject. Susannah is a historian, David is a philosopher, and Annie and Patrick specialise in sociology/cultural commentary and anthropology.

Since its beginnings in 2013, the team have so carried out two different online surveys. They have also interviewed headteachers concerning ‘school-wide’ practices around remembrance, and carried out observations of remembrance events in schools. They also plan to carry out questionnaires to gauge pupil’s views on the subject.

Susannah says, “it is refreshing to have an approach that is so multi-faceted, and we hope the work will help schools to think contextually about their own remembrance activities.”