Year 11 History Trip to France and Belgium

The 2023 France and Belgium trip was a huge success and every student got to experience life changing monuments and experiences. From exploring preserved trenches and World War cemeteries, watching the military bands performing at the last post and playing games of pool at the Munchenhof Hostel, we all had an amazing time while also displaying interest and curiosity on the historical tours of places like Theipval Memorial and the Sanctuary Wood Museum in Ypres. Before going on the trip, I was really looking forward to experiencing all of these historically significant sites and I wanted to learn more about the individual experiences of the soldiers who bravely fought during both World Wars. This is exactly what we did. I found this trip moving and I feel that I now fully understand the importance of Remembrance Day to celebrate the bravery of the soldiers who passed while serving their country. India 

There we so many Belgium chocolate shops in Bruges and I tried a real Belgium waffle with chocolate which was really good. I also got a Bruges snow globe that I’m now obsessed with. Later, we went to the medieval torture museum which was really interesting, but some of them made my skin crawl! Hannah 

During our visit to Bruges, we went shopping in the town centre. It was very beautiful and full of tourists. We also went to visit a Medieval Torture Museum with replicas of many of the torture devices used. This was very interesting to learn about and to see. Aiza

For the first 2 nights in Belgium, we stayed at the Munchenhof Hostel. This was a good experience as we had a block to ourselves meaning we could have fun socialising with friends in our rooms and could play pool in the common area. Overall, it was a fun and enjoyable experience. Anya

Visiting Sanctuary Wood and the Hill 62 Museum was incredibly impactful. I felt like I was living how the soldiers were living in those times. Even though we talk about it in class and look at pictures, it’s not the same as being there in the moment and standing where the late soldiers stood. I feel like Sanctuary Wood and the museum was one of my favourite places as it gave me a greater insight, especially all the old stereograph pictures. Bismah

Sanctuary Wood was a unique and fascinating experience. It was great to visit such a well-preserved WWI trench and be given the ability to put into perspective the lives that many soldiers had during 1914-1918. The museum attached showed well-kept pictures and artefacts found and used during the war. Overall, it created a great sense of empathy and sadness towards the people involved in the war and it was amazing to be able to visit on Remembrance Day.  Erin

Sanctuary Wood was a very special part of the trip because it showed preserved trenches from the war and it reflected how the soldiers on the front line were living. Walking in the trenches showed how much they fought for us in the war. We also observed a 2-minute silence during our visit to the Sanctuary Wood and we conveyed our respects to the soldiers at the front line. Mariyah

We visited Essex Farm which was where soldiers were taken from the trenches when they got injured and is also where the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ was written. We also visited a cemetery where the youngest person known to go to war was buried; he was 15 years old and had lied that he was 18. Sophie

Our visit to Ypres was great fun. We got to go and explore the town centre and experience local foods. There were many chocolate shops which is something Belgium is known for. The sweet treats did not disappoint!   Alexis

Upon our second day in Belgium, we visited the atmospheric and beautiful city of Ypres! We had our own free time to spend in the market square, and we saw the impressive architecture of St Martin’s cathedral. Me and friends had lunch in a friendly Italian, and bought some authentic Belgium chocolate from a traditional chocolatier in the square! Mya

In Ypres, we stopped for lunch and had a walk around the town centre. Many of us bought some chocolate and had food from some of the local shops. We came back to Ypres later and attended the Menin Gate ceremony. Gemma

The ceremony at Tyne Cot was very beautiful because all the people there were in silence, paying respect to the soldiers that died in the war. There was music being played while we stood. It was amazing to be part of such a beautiful moment. Mia  

As we approached Tyne Cot, it was emotional for some as we thought about all the people who fought for their country. We were handed a piece of paper with a person who fought in the war on and had to locate where they were in the cemetery. Once we found it, we placed the writing down next to the gravestone and payed our respects to all the soldiers who fought for their country. Tyne Cot is a symbolic and special place for many people. Ella 

Tyne Cot Memorial was a British memorial that contained the names and graves of over 11,000 servicemen of the First World War. We were given the task to find a grave and place a profile and picture of the person in front of their grave. The majority of the graves were placed in rows, but towards the centre the graves were placed where the men died. It was an emotional experience as we got to look around the memorial and look at the ages that soldiers died and their backgrounds. Charlotte

Whilst we were at our visit to Tyne Cot, the British Ambassador was there. We watched the ceremony take place where the different groups of soldiers and cadets marched through playing instruments of military music. They then saluted and paid their respects in the centre of the cemetery with a crowd around them. Freya

During the visit to the Tyne Cot cemetery in Belgium, we all had information about different soldiers who died in the war and were instructed to place their information with a portrait of them next to their gravestone. Whilst doing this, there was also a mini ceremony with many people who came to pay their respects, including the Royal family of Belgium. Overall, it was an interesting and sentimental experience. Ismah

It was amazing to see the different military branches come together to remember the fallen from the First World War at Tyne Cot. Hundreds of people came from the local area and further away. Isobelle

Langemark cemetery was a very different experience from the other cemeteries. It was very saddening to see how many Germans were left in the same grave. The most heart-breaking fact was the large pit that 30,000 Germans were put in. Victoria

Witnessing the Last Post Ceremony was extraordinary. The ceremony pays tribute to those who lost their life due to war, and many people had the opportunity to lay a wreath. There were lots of instruments being played including brass instruments and a violin. It was a very sentimental ceremony and made everyone see the power of unity. Everyone was there for one reason and showed respect. Vanika

The wreath laying at the Menin Gate was really enjoyable because I have never experienced it before and it was a big honour for me personally. I had a great time watching all the bands marching through. Seeing the support from my friends and people around me, made it even more enjoyable. Sai

During the evening on our second day, we were able to attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate. I was fortunate enough to lay a wreath during the ceremony which was a huge privilege and a very special way to pay our respects as a school to the soldiers who lost their lives. This was an emotional event surrounded by soldiers, veterans and many other people who may have lost loved ones in wars, so this opportunity is one I am very grateful for and feel very lucky to have experienced.  Lily

I felt honoured to be able to stand by such well respected veterans of the armed forces and first responders from all over the world on such a monumental day. It was awe-inspiring to see people from every walk of life and people from all over the world celebrate those who fought so bravely and sacrificed so much for the freedom of others. The ceremony at the Menin Gate will forever hold a special place in my heart as both a commemoration and a time of mourning for those we lost and for that I will forever be thankful. Alex 

The German cemetery was a key experience because it showed the different layout and the approach they chose to take. The difference between the Tyne Cot cemetery is how they have gravestones in the shape of a square and laid flat. They had a statue of 4 men which was very moving and there are 30,000 people buried in a pit. Maisie

When we visited the German Cemetery ‘Langemark’, everyone was really struck by how different it was to the British, French, Belgian and Canadian places of remembrance we’d already visited. The graves were marked with multiple names that only bore their date of death. Furthermore, the monument that depicted four German soldiers grieving their comrades, brought to heart the cruelty of the war and the mass amounts of suffering that both sides encountered.     Alice W

Newfoundland Park was a fascinating experience and one of my favourite parts of the whole trip. We had a tour around the battlefield and walked through the remains of some trenches. It was incredibly interesting and eye opening and I’m very grateful to have had the chance to see it. Izzy

The Thiepval Memorial is an enormous and imposing structure, filled with all the names of the British soldiers whose bodies were never found. It was surreal to see just how many people had passed away, and how many families would have suffered because of it. It was beautiful to see they will be remembered and respected forever. Ellie

The Theipval monument to the missing soldiers was a shocking sight to see. 72,000 soldiers that after the war hadn’t been seen or found are named on the monument. The magnificent structure shows the impact that their help had on our country and that they won’t be forgotten. it really made us understand the importance of each and every member of our army and the sacrifices made to be what we are today. Freya

Visiting the Thiepval Memorial was a heart-breaking experience; seeing over 72,000 names engraved upon the walls was devastating. The stories we learnt about of some of the soldiers were interesting but also upsetting. Overall, the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m grateful for those who fought for us and sadly died. Lucy

The Holiday Inn in Arras was a ten out of ten experience!  Everyone was so kind and we had such an enjoyable time there. Not to mention the incredible breakfast. Overall, the best hotel I have visited! Layla

For our final night, we went to a restaurant called “Caesar Saveurs”, where we enjoyed an entrée, main and dessert. The dinner had options for vegetarians and we were all satisfied with the food. For a starter, we had an egg salad garnished with greens and different sauces. For the main, we had burgers with chips, or pasta with vegetables as the vegetarian option. For dessert, we had chocolate cake with ice cream. Overall, the food, atmosphere and service were very lovely, as the waiting on staff were happy to accommodate when asked to bring out a special piece of cake and take song suggestions as we were celebrating my birthday. They then joined in with dancing and adding to the lively atmosphere already created. Lara

The Wellington tunnels were amazing to see. We learnt a lot whilst there about the war, and it really made us think about how the soldiers suffered terribly. Keisha

Our battlefields trip to Belgium and France was enjoyed by students and teachers alike, as the whole group visited numerous sites and were educated about the trials and triumphs of the First World War. In Belgium, we had the opportunity to pay our respects to the fallen soldiers of all nationalities at Tyne Cot, Langemark, and the Menin Gate. Some of our classmates took part in the honour of laying a wreath in remembrance. We were also given the opportunity to explore the cultural centres of Bruges and Ypres, where we shopped, visited monuments and ate the local cuisine! The success and enjoyment of the trip was entirely due to the efforts of the teachers who accompanied us, and the trip has created long-lasting memories for the whole group. Libby

Mr Herbert

Curriculum Leader for History

Year 7 Viking Treasure Hunt

Mr Bretherton led a Year 7 history session on Vikings, which included a treasure hunt using the students newly discovered knowledge of runes. Students were provided with an insight into Norse world and the runic alphabet. They then had to work in groups to discover the clues hidden around school which the students did in impressive speed. Students enjoyed learning more about Viking culture which fitted in well with both the Languages and Literature Festival and the year 7 history curriculum.

Mr Herbert

Curriculum Leader for History

History Haiku Competition

The History Haiku Competition, has concluded with a resounding success, celebrating the combination of poetry and history. The competition, aiming to encapsulate historical events in the succinct form of haiku, showed a wide display of creativity and historical insight from students in all year groups. From ancient civilizations to the modern age, there were poems that vividly painted historical moments in just 17 syllables showcasing a curiosity and understanding of the past. With over 100 poems to review, the judging process has now commenced. The winners will be announced next week. Thank you to all who have taken part!

Mr Herbert

Curriculum Leader for History

Year 9 Mock Trial

As part of the festival, all Year 9 students participated in a mock trial exploring the 1884 case of R v Dudley and Stephens. The defendants were accused of cannibalism after becoming shipwrecked in the Atlantic Ocean. After 19 days at sea, the captain, Thomas Dudley, convinced two other sailors to kill and eat 17 year old Richard Parker, who had been suffering from the effects of malnutrition and dehydration. Three days later, the crew were rescued and brought back to England. On their return they were charged and found guilty of murder, despite public opinion being sympathetic to the famished sailors. The students enjoyed learning about the case, the difference between moral and legal arguments, the importance of the use of evidence in criminal cases and how to construct a convincing defence and prosecution. Hopefully it will have inspired Year 9 students to investigate further a career in law. Thank you to the teachers who enthusiastically led the sessions and made it an enjoyable session for the students.

Mr Herbert

Curriculum Leader for History

Year 7 History Trip to Skipton Castle

At the end of the summer term, over 100 students attended a history trip to Skipton Castle with the purpose of enriching their knowledge and understanding of life in medieval England. Students were divided into small groups and led around the castle by expert guides. They helped students identify the key defensive exterior features of the castle, as well as the function and purpose of each of the rooms. Students were given an insight into the reasons for the castle’s location as well as how the design and interior reflected the wealth and status of its owner. As well as a tour of the castle, students visited the nearby medieval Holy Trinity Church and were provided with a very interesting and engaging talk by the vicar. The visit helped students to better understand the impact of the Reformation and the importance of the church to its local community. The students showed genuine curiosity about these two fascinating historic sites on the visit and asked some very insightful and thought-provoking questions. Having studied medieval England and the significance of the Reformation during lessons, it was a fantastic opportunity for students to further embed and enrich their classroom learning. I would like to thank the staff members who volunteered to supervise the visit and helped to make the trip run smoothly. 

Mr Herbert

Associate Assistant Headteacher

Year 9: Life in East Germany

Year 9 students have recently been studying life in East Germany under the communist dictator Erich Honecker. During lessons students have read a section of the bestselling book ‘Stasiland’ by Anna Funder, which provides detailed accounts of life behind the iron curtain. Students have enjoyed learning about the surveillance tactics that the Stasi (East German Secret Police) used to spy on their citizens, including buttonhole cameras, secret listening devices and scent jars. Students have also learnt about life in East Berlin at the time of the Berlin Wall, using a fantastic interactive internet resource which can be found here: For those students who have opted to study GCSE History, this will be vital knowledge when studying Germany 1919-1991. Also, the students who are attending the history trip to Krakow in 2024 will have the opportunity to see what life was like in communist Poland during a visit to Nowa Huta, built in 1949.

Mr Herbert, Curriculum Leader for History

Historical Fiction Review

The History Department has a wide range of historical fiction available in our History Library. Many students take advantage of this and enjoy stories set as far back as Anglo-Saxon England or borrow books depicting life in more recent eras such as 20th century Cuba.

We always welcome feedback on the books we have on our shelves. The following is a fantastic review of the book ‘After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside’ by Emily G in Year 8. 

“After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside” by Tom Palmer is a compelling and insightful book that looks at the aftermath of World War II and the experiences of those who were affected by the war. The story follows the journey of a young boy named Yanek, who is a survivor of Auschwitz, as he tries to come to terms with his past and adjust to life in England after the war.

The way it is written is both informative and emotional, allowing readers to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of the war on individuals and communities.

One of my favourite parts of the book is its in depth look into Yanek’s struggles as a survivor of Auschwitz. Tom does an excellent job of depicting the trauma and psychological scars that Yanek carries with him as well as the challenges he faces in adjusting to life in a new country. Through Yanek’s point of view, I gained a greater appreciation for resilience, strength and spirit.

The book also looks at things such as the importance of family and community, the power of forgiveness and the need for hope in the face of a new situation. These things are explored in a thoughtful way, giving a deeper understanding of these issues.

Overall, “After the War: From Auschwitz to Ambleside” is a powerful and though-provoking book that genuinely made me think how privileged I, and the people around me, truly are. It is a real show of the human capacity for resilience and hope and a reminder of the importance of understanding and learning from the past.”

Mr Bretherton

History Department

Holocaust Workshop

On Tuesday, 28th March, forty Year 9 students travelled to the University of Huddersfield and attended a workshop at Holocaust Centre North. 

Year 9 had been studying the Holocaust over previous weeks, discussing why and how the Holocaust happened. The University’s workshop gave us the opportunity to deepen our understanding and engage with some new and challenging ideas. During the morning session, Year 9 considered the impact of anti-Semitic propaganda in Nazi Germany. We also spent time discussing the objects and displays in the exhibition. After lunch, we attended a workshop which looked at the impact the Holocaust has had on post-war human rights legislation.

University staff were keen to state afterwards just how impressed they were with our students. Their depth of understanding, knowledge and sensitivity was clear throughout the day. Mr Herbert, Mrs Lucas and myself were exceptionally proud of Year 9 and the manner in which they represented our school.

Mr Bretherton

History Department

Year 7 History Model Competition

During last term’s STEM festival, students in year 7 were invited to take part in the History Department’s ‘Model History’ competition. There were many really impressive models submitted including Viking longboats, medieval swords, castles, a WW1 trench, a 1969 NASA rocket launch and even a replica French Revolution era guillotine! Well done to all students who took part. The winning entries came from:

Laila B and Nick H – a truly impressive model of Elizabeth I.

Lilah C – An amazing French Revolution era guillotine.

Jenya Z – A superb medieval castle.

Ruby M – A Viking shield complete with runes.

As well as being invited to the ‘Head’s Breakfast’, the winners will receive a selection of history related prizes. 

Mr Herbert

Curriculum Leader for History

Helmshore Textile Museum

Over two days during the STEM Festival, Year 8 students went on a visit to Helmshore Textile Museum in East Lancashire, organised by the History Department.  The visit was timed to coincide with the STEM Festival, highlighting the scientific and technological innovations in textiles manufacture that took place here in the North West around two centuries ago. The weather was perfect for it; damp and cold, yet bright and sunny.  On arrival we were met by our enthusiastic and friendly guides for the day, one of whom was a lovely medical support dog called Cerebus, though admittedly its owner did all the talking!

The students were split into four groups and went off to take part in series of hands-on activities.  They learned how the town of Helmshore gradually developed from a few scattered cottages where the spinners and weavers lived and worked; turning the wool from the local sheep into a high quality woollen cloth, through to the move into a purpose-built mill complex that eventually centred on cotton cloth production.  Incidentally, the process of turning wool into cloth is both fascinatingly complex and rather disgusting, involving a lot of human urine (erm, we’ll stop there).

A short walking tour introduced students to the quaint little town of Helmshore, where you can still see the church, old pub, shop and mill workers’ cottages, all built by the mill-owning Turner family.  The students were shocked to learn that the workers were paid wages in the form of special tokens that they could only spend in the mill owner’s shop, buying goods at inflated prices and of course, adding to Mr Turner’s profits.  Unsurprisingly, it was this practice, common across the North West, that would eventually give birth to the Cooperative movement, where local food producers and shop owners cooperated to ensure that goods were produced and sold at fair prices to the workers.  Something to reflect on the next time you pop into your local Co-op!

The undoubted highlight of the visit to the mill is seeing, hearing and feeling the old machines in action.  Helmshore is blessed with some of the finest examples of Industrial Revolution-era textile machinery in the world, including a full floor of Spinning Mules that can spin miles of cotton thread per minute.  I saw open-mouthed students look on, a little nervously at first, as the mechanical monsters clanked and groaned into life, making the floor shake as they rumbled back and forth.  It’s a barrage upon the senses that never fails to impress, and one that won’t be quickly forgotten by the students.

I want to thank all the staff who accompanied on me on the visit, as well as the office staff who helped me to organise it, and finally to the students themselves.  They were a credit to PGHS and were commended by the museum staff for their good manners and genuine curiosity.

Mr Ramsdale

Senior Assistant Headteacher

  • Artsmark Platinum Award - Awards by Arts Council England
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider
  • International School Award
  • Artsmark Platinum Award - Awards by Arts Council England
  • Lancashire Socio-economic Equality Badge
  • School Mental Health Award
  • Ofsted - Outstanding Provider
  • International School Award