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1916: it’s more than just the Somme - York ISSP

As part of the national commemoration of the First World War Centenary, students from across York, as part of the York Independent State School Partnership (York ISSP), have completed an incredible project which culminated in the summer 2016, in an exhibition at the Castle Museum entitled ‘1916: More than just the Somme’. Children from Bootham School, The Mount School York, Millthorpe School, Huntington School, Manor CE Academy, Eskdale School, York High School, Barlby High School and Joseph Rowntree School to part in this project.


This is a 'Legacy 110 project' which aims to reach out to a minimum of 110 people in the local community.


As part of a city wide 'Legacy 110 project', students from York Independent State School Partnership (ISSP) and other schools around York have helped to put together an exhibition on 1916 at the city’s Castle Museum. 1916 is understandably synonymous with the Battle of the Somme so in agreement with the curators at the museum the students decided to focus upon the other key events that took place in that year, including some that impacted on the city of York itself. 


This has been a truly collaborative effort that has also helped local teachers improve their knowledge of the period. Through this exhibition, the students have exceeded their 110 people target by an unbelievable margin, reaching around 130,000 visitors.

In December 2016, representatives from York ISSP attended an annual awards event at the House of Lords, where their project was presented with one of the prestigious National Awards in recognition of the excellent centenary project. 

On Thursday, 9th March 2017, the National Award prizes and certificates will be presented to all of the schools and the students who were involved by Simon Bendry, Project director from the WW1 Battlefields Tour Programme. The ceremony will take place at the National Railway Museum in York and will further recognise this excellent centenary project and all of the students’ hard work.

Pupil Involvement

Millthorpe School is one of the York ISSP schools that took part. In September 2014, Year 10 students Kirstin and Angus won a school held competition to be selected to go on one of the First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours programme’s visits to the Western Front. The only stipulation was that after their visit, they created a legacy project which would reach out to as many people in the local community as possible.

York students have risen to the challenge. Following a memorial service at York Minster which was attended by over 200 people they wanted to do more. A team of around 14 young people from York schools have put together a fantastic display about the First World War and in particular, the events of 1916 to mark the centenary year. 

Kirstin focussed on the Zeppelin raids over York which took place on 2nd and 3rd May 1916, causing 9 fatalities. Her school has worked this year with The Mount School York and Clement Hall Local History Group to commemorate the centenary of the raid.

Angus drew on his extensive naval knowledge to focus on the Battle of Jutland, the only major sea battle of the First World War. Angus also spent an incredible amount of time making perfect handmade models of some of the battleships, battlecruisers and other naval vessels that participated in the battle.

Angus said: “My particular strengths were the historical events of the naval Battle of Jutland. I concentrated and used my artistic skills to design, from the ships plans, some of the battleships of Britain and Germany that were present at the battle. They were all hand drawn and made and feature a brief account of the factual information for each ship. I am proud and honoured to be part of this project and I hope the visitors enjoy the exhibit.”

Alice and Ellen from Huntington School went to York Archives and worked with the local newspapers of 1916. They have made a fascinating resource that compares the events of 1916 with how they were being reported in the city. The differences are striking. At the same time, students from Bootham School searched their school archives to uncover the story of conscientious objectors as a result of the 1916 Conscription Act, and further archival work was done by students from Manor CE Academy. They looked at back issues of the Rowntree Factory magazine, ‘The Cocoa Works’, and have brought new stories to light. Pietra and Martha from The Mount School put together a large map of the fighting in 1916, indicating where British soldiers were engaged, and wrote up stories of people whose lives were cut short in 1916 in the various theatres of war. Meanwhile, students from Eskdale School near Whitby researched the impact of the War on the port and York High students brought detailed work on the local Acomb memorial to share at the exhibition.


This was a one off exibit which was on display until the end of October 2016, in the community room at York’s Castle museum.

To find out about York ISSP go to