Age to Age
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Project Overview

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Project Overview

In Essex, The English and Media Centre worked with The Boswells School, in Chelmsford. The Boswells is a large 11-18 neighbourhood comprehensive school and a specialist performing arts school.

Drawing on what we had learned from the Lambeth phase about the difficulties of fitting the project in around the constraints of an exam specification and timescale, we worked instead with Year 7 and Year 8.

We also wanted to see if it would work to have a group of older people who would come to the school. Envisaging something like a ‘grandparents group’ we put out a plea in the school newsletter.

Anne Carpientero, one of the teachers involved, is also a teacher governor and had the bright idea of approaching the governing body. It turned out that several of the older governors were keen to have more direct contact with students and an insight into what happens in the classroom and they became stalwarts of the group. Seeing the note in the school bulletin, even the retired husband of the exams officer was drawn in!

A teaching assistant, Sally Smith, took the project to heart and drew in some of her contacts from a local church, and eventually the vicar himself became curious and came to join us for several sessions. As a result of reaching out in several different directions, we ended up with a wonderful core group of people we could rely on every session, with others coming along when they could. We always had enough volunteers to make the session work well. Working with a group of volunteers coming to the school had many advantages including the chance for the older people to get to know each other (over tea and coffee after each session) and the possibility of sustaining the relationship between the group and the school. You can read more about this in the ‘How to’ guide on the Teacher Resources page.

As well as taking part in the interview sessions, Year 7 produced group memory books on a topic of their choice with pages comparing life ‘then’ and ‘now’. Year 8 concentrated on anecdotes, both spoken and written, sharing their stories with the older people as well as listening to stories from the past. Both young and old were interested in the differences and the similarities in their childhoods, with some surprises on both sides.