History Month at Cromer Road School
June 2013 was earmarked as ‘History Month’ at the school and the children engaged in a wide range of activities that were tailored to their age. Each year group – consisting of two classes – adopted a decade from the eighty years of the school and used their project time to study different aspects of life in that decade. Members of the local community came in to talk to the children about their experiences of being a child in the decade in question and answered questions about how the school had changed since their time as a pupil. Some of these conversations were filmed by the pupils and their teachers.
In advance of the History Month, the school log books from 1932 to 1976 had been studied in depth and extracts were made that provided an insight into the life of the school over this period. These extracts were used extensively in the project work of the Years 5 and 6 classes, many of whom gained inspiration from looking at the primary evidence provided by the log books. The Year 5 classes received a first-hand grounding in the range of primary sources that are available to study local history in New Barnet when they visited Barnet Archives and Local History Centre. In particular, the local newspapers provided much material for the project work that Y5 produced in connection with their study of the 1950s.
A series of local history walks led by local resident Jim Nelhams were organised. Two routes took the children on trails to discover local landmarks, such as the former East Barnet and District Town Hall, and to recognise historical features in the townscape, such as the fire hydrant points, parish boundary markers and stink pipes. A real highlight was when Jim showed the children the boundary between the counties of Middlesex and Hertfordshire and encouraged them to put one foot in each of the counties!
Visits were arranged for the Year 3 classes to walk to Barnet Museum, where they were given an excellent introduction to the collections of the Museum. One object was of particular interest to the children, which was a plaque donated by the people of Barnet to H.M.S. Cromer, a warship that fought in the Second World War, to commemorate the ship’s adoption by Barnet Urban District. It had already been discovered from reading the school log books that the parents and pupils of Cromer Road School had raised over £100 in savings stamps during Warships Week in 1942 to help pay for H.M.S. Cromer. Barnet Museum very kindly lent the plaque to the school for its celebratory event and anniversary reunion, where it attracted considerable attention and interest.