Primary – The Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

At the risk of throwing the whole curriculum into disarray I’m a firm believer in being aware of anniversaries of the people and events that have shaped the nation or the world. Not for me the rigid sticking to textbooks and schemes of work and thankfully my head teacher agrees. The change of government and the declaration that the National Curriculum was once again king rather than the QCA Schemes of Work, threw some members of the teaching profession into a tailspin. Thankfully the instruction wasn’t to consign QCA to the dustbin of history but to rely on it less heavily in favour of covering the required attainment targets by whatever creative means the teacher chose to employ. This year we have several opportunities to use national events to supplement and indeed enhance the curriculum whilst making children aware of how the world today was shaped. We have the Queen’s diamond jubilee, the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, the Olympics and the 100th anniversary of the Titanic.

The 15th of April this year sees the centenary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, probably the world’s most famous ship and immortalised in James Cameron’s film Titanic, one of the top grossing films of all time. Whilst a tragic event that will never be forgotten, the story makes an interesting topic to cover in schools, mostly because many children are familiar with it. I can remember working with a Year 2 class on the topic and they were amazed when listening to the story and the work they produced was some of the best they’d carried out that year.

As the anniversary approaches, events will be held around the country, at the dockyard in Belfast where the ship was constructed, at the port it first sailed from, Southampton, which already has several artefacts and memorials to the tragic event, and in its home city of Liverpool.

Most schools that use the story in the curriculum focus on the literacy that can be gained from it; writing letters to loved ones in the hope they’ll be found after the ship sinks or telling friends about the enormity and the facilities of the ship prior to its sailing.

You can expand the topic substantially without stretching credulity and in the accompanying activities we’ve tried to show you how you can spend up to a week of the curriculum around the time of the anniversary using the Titanic in different ways. You just know that with the national interest in the topic, the kids in your class are going to be asking questions and with our help, you’ll enable them to find out many of the answers.

Dave Lewis
Primary teacher

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