One of the advantages of the Monday afternoon period 6 sessions it that we are able to do extended assemblies and focus sessions in forms. This week, I was able to take the whole school for assemblies on the importance of remembrance. I told a personal journey of my first visit to “Flanders Fields” and the relationship between my family and a French family from Lille, and how this increased my desire to learn about history.

I also used the opportunity to challenge the students to think about the impact that war has, and the different reasons for warfare. I think John Stuart Mill originally quoted the line “war is an ugly thing”, but it has since become “war is a terrible thing”, but as I explained to the students there are wars that are more morally sound than others, but that we should remember the fallen regardless.

Every death has a story, and we should spend time reflecting on those stories. I am prone to teasing the students with a “homework” from assemblies (don’t worry it’s not on Show My Homework), and on this occasion I asked them to look up their own surname on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website; whilst I appreciate not all surnames will be there (for example there was not a [Mrs] Solis in the First World War casualty list, yet there were almost as many [Mr] Rahman casualties as [Mr] Frost casualties), it will help students understand the scale of the conflict.

Whilst not quite the same remembrance agenda, it was “lovely” (never to be used really in the context of the grimmest place I have visited on Earth, in my opinion) to be presented with the problem from year 10 students that more than we had estimated (indeed got a quote for) want to go on the Auschwitz trip next year. We hope that we will be able to take all those students that want to go and book the extra places.

The response to that trip and to the assembly demonstrate how compassionate and caring our students are, and display the characteristics of truly mature young adults.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

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