University Academy Keighley
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University Academy Keighley

Letters to the past

Students from year 7 are among youngsters from only 6 schools to have their work chosen for a National Literacy Trust case study on behalf of The Royal British Legion’s ‘Thank You’ campaign.

The ‘Thank You’ project, which took part during a special English lessons, focused on people whose contribution to the First World War effort is not usually recognised.  Students chose to study female surgeons Louisa Anderson, Flora Murray and Elsie Inglis.  Using National Literacy Trust and The Royal British Legion resources they studied the life stories of these women to understand and celebrate their actions and achievements, and ultimate write thank you letters to them.

English teacher, Farhat Alam, who spearheaded the sessions said: “It’s honestly been a brilliant experience! The students really got stuck into the biographies and did some beautiful work. In class we had some really engaging conversations about what it was like for women before the war and what it’s like now because of the work of people like Elsie Inglis and Flora Murray.

I think it was useful for the students to think about Remembrance in a slightly different way because they all know that lots of soldiers fought but it’s harder to make that link back to their own lives and why we are still thinking about them 100 years on. Using the experience of the surgeons, we were able to put that traditional idea of remembrance into a broader context. It helped them see it in a different way, especially the girls.”

Students have been truly inspired by what they learnt about these women one student commenting: “These women are so inspirational, I hadn’t heard of these surgeons- Elsie Inglis was quite amazing, and Flora and Louisa too!  In my letter I thanked them for the bravery they showed, about how they joined the suffrage and always fought for what they believed, how they helped willingly and always persevered and finally how they did what was right!”

With a fellow student adding “I have learned a lot about these women. I have never heard of them before so to me they are hidden heroes.”

The students letters now form part of a case study produced by The National literacy Trust, it is also hoped that the letters will go on to be published in a remembrance collection.

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