From St Neots to Siberia: an HA Quality Mark Community Outreach Project

By Andrew Wrenn, published 4th May 2018

Longsands Academy, a secondary school in Saint Neots, Cambridgeshire was awarded an HA Quality Mark Silver Award in 2016. The History Department at Longsands chose to build on this success by applying for a First World War Then and Now grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to run a community outreach project.

How did Longsands use their HLF funding?

The department used the grant to pay for Andrew Wrenn (an HA Fellow) to research the role local soldiers of the Bedfordshire Regiment played in the Allied Expeditionary Forces to Russia, embroiled in a bitter civil war between 1918 and 1921.

Year Nine pupils at Longsands (and its partner school in St Neots, Ernulf Academy) then went on to follow a scheme of work written collaboratively by their history teachers in CPD time paid for by HLF funding. The culmination of the project was a Year 9 competition to create montages commemorating the long neglected service of these local British soldiers in the largely forgotten campaigns between the Bolsheviks (Russian communists) and their White enemies.

How did the project reach out to the community?

Pupils contributed text to an exhibition of pop-up banners summarising their research and learning about local soldiers in the context of the Allied intervention. The banners also reproduced the three winning montages from the Year 9 competition. The exhibition was then presented to parents and other members of the St Neots community at an event held at the school with the involvement of sixth form students from Longsands. In addition the exhibition was also presented at a meeting of the Bedford branch of the Royal British Legion. The teaching materials were published on the school website and also shared with student teachers from the locality at a workshop held at the school.