CHILDREN got to grips with some big questions by hearing from a ‘veteran’ of the First World War at school this week.

Pupils at Red Oaks Primary School, in North Swindon, were visited by a character named Fred Sutherland, played by Swindon story teller Roger Day, who told the story of the Great War as if through the eyes of someone who lived in the period.

The two-day workshop, to educate the children in the build-up to the centenary of the 1914-1918 conflict this year, saw nearly 500 students hear from him and dress up in period costume.

It is the second Great War-themed event the school has participated in, after Sixth Sense Theatre recently visited with their touring production of Pig Town Kids.

Headteacher Rachel Surch said she felt it was important for the youngsters to remember the war and learn lessons for the future.

“The children are our future and they can learn from the mistakes of the past and take it forward,” she said.

“It is part of our focus on what we call the big questions, which the children have been investigating across the school.

“Our big question for this term was ‘too s the past the key to the future?’ and we have had a big focus on World War One.

“We try to ask questions that have an open-ended answer and are not just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and so at the end we asked them to reflect on that afterwards and they were very good, as it’s a difficult theme to touch on.

“I think it’s important they know their life now and their future has been shaped by what happened in the past and that all links to the big question.”

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War veteran ‘Fred’ shares his stories with pupils

The highlight for the children was the visit from the ‘veteran’ and getting into costume on the second day, Rachel said.

“Everyone came in dressed up on the Wednesday, which was great because it took them a step closer to it and made them a part of it – it can feel a bit far removed for them but fortunately, with Fred coming in too and telling his stories, they were all captivated.

“He went through all the gory stuff like trench-foot and the food, as well as making trenches out of tables, so they loved all that stuff.

“The classes had to put together something to say what they had learned and they came up with some great answers.”