SCHOOLS in Pendle have welcomed Government plans for the First World War centenary with open arms.
It has been announced that over £50 million is being committed to the First World War outbreak, Battle of the Somme and Armistice Day commemorations, between 2014 and 2018.
In 2014, an enduring educational legacy costing £5.3 million is being organised.
This will allow two student ambassadors, plus a teacher, from each maintained school in England to visit First World War battlefields and undertake research on local people to their school who fought in the war.
It will be jointly funded by the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Among those delighted with the news are Barnoldswick’s West Craven High Technology College, Colne Park High School and Marsden Heights Community College in Nelson.
Senior deputy headteacher at West Craven High Technology College, Claire Watson, said: “In Pendle, there is a tradition of people demonstrating great courage in battle.
“For example, the school recently mourned the death of ex-student Lance Corporal Jordan Bancroft, who died serving in Afghanistan in August, 2010.
“The centenary enables all to recognise the heroes and courageous acts of people that have stood before us but are no longer able to tell their tale.
“It not only acknowledges the millions of lives lost but also the great advances made in technology and science which we all benefit from today.”
Headteacher of Colne Park High School Dr Paul Parkin said: “The Government’s plans to mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014 are a fitting commemoration to those who lost their lives and suffered during this campaign.
“The educational legacy is hugely important as a means of continuing to educate future generations about the sacrifices made and the reasons why.
“I am sure that the student ambassadors will find the visits to the battlefields a moving, informative and rewarding experience.”
And Hilary Birch, head of history at Marsden Heights Community College, said: “The First World War has always been an important part of the curriculum at Marsden Heights Community College.
“However, with the coming centenary we will mark this important occasion as a whole school rather than a history subject.
“For example, we hope to work with the English department looking at the war poets, as well as music and drama, ‘re-living’ the overwhelming experience of war on a world scale.
“Our young people at Marsden Heights Community College will empathise and recognise the importance of the First World War, understanding the legacy our soldiers fought and died to protect — our British heritage.”
The four-year programme will also include the opening, of refurbished First World War galleries at the Imperial War Museum, and a new £6 million community projects fund, to enable young people to work in their communities to conserve, explore and share local heritage of the First World War.
Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said: “I think this Government initiative will be especially fitting for school children across Pendle, as in addition to many young servicemen from Pendle who died, we should never forget the 105 Scouts from Nelson who gave their lives during the First World War.
“I think this is a really great opportunity for school children across Pendle to learn more about the war in its centenary year.”
And Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It is absolutely right that these commemorations should be given such priority.
“As a 20-year-old soldier wrote just a week before he died: ‘But for this war I and all the others would have passed into oblivion like the countless myriads before us... but we shall live for ever in the results of our efforts’.
“Our duty with these commemorations is clear — to honour those who served, to remember those who died, and to ensure that the lessons learnt live with us for ever. And that is exactly what we will do.”