Thousands of pupils to visit WWI battlefields

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Thousands of students will visit First World War battlefields as part of a project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the war.

The Centenary Education Programme will allow pupils to learn about the sacrifices made by the troops and the personal stories of those involved in the war effort.

Pupils and teachers from maintained secondary schools in England will get the chance to tour battlefields including the Somme, Verdun and Fromelles.

The First World War lasted from 1914 to 1918 and its study is compulsory for children aged 11 to 14. It is hoped that students who visit the battlefields will pass on what they learn to their peers via commemoration projects in their schools and local communities.

The project will cost £5.3 million between 2013 and 2019 and a single tour operator will be appointed to run the visits from spring 2014 until spring 2019.

The scheme was announced by prime minister David Cameron as he outlined the government’s plans to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War in 2014. The Department for Education is also working with cultural education organisations to develop proposals for schools to mark the commemoration.

Education secretary Michael Gove said: “The men who gave their lives in the Great War will remain heroes forever. The last British veteran has now died but their bravery and suffering must never be forgotten. This project will ensure that never happens by leaving a lasting legacy of this hugely significant period.”

Hew Strachan, Chichele professor of the history of war at Oxford University, said: “The commemoration must bequeath to future generations a legacy that equips them with a deeper understanding of the war, its many meanings and its truly global significance.”


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