Although World War Two was always a very popular, and usually well-taught, topic in primary schools, the government decided not to include it as a compulsory topic in the new National Curriculum which came into effect in August 2014. Notwithstanding this decision, many schools have decided to carry on teaching it anyway, as it works. So, if you are thinking of teaching this to KS2 pupils what approaches are recommended?
Firstly, it is best to focus on the Home Front with younger pupils. Not only is this narrow period of time very vivid and clearly different from their own lives, there are loads of accessible resources in the form of film, artefacts photographs, letters, diaries and oral testimony. It lends itself extremely well to role play and to approaches using fiction. Pupils can begin to empathise with the trauma of evacuation, whilst learning that children had diverse experiences.
As pupils move through the primary school, so they should start placing events on the Home Front within a broader context. Taking the example of evacuation again, pupils could be asked to explain why mothers stopped sending their children away in the first six months of the war (the Phoney war) but didn’t hesitate in later 1941 (at the height of the Blitz). Pupils grasp the key concept of propaganda when wondering why all images of evacuation in the media of the time were so positive.
All these ideas are brought to life in a variety of fully-resourced outstanding lessons which are featured on the site. There are lessons ranging from evacuation to VE day, each linking with another key are of the curriculum whether it be data handling or persuasive letter writing.