Sunderland children bring Anglo-Saxons to life

Richard Avenue Primary School students with thier teacher, Chris Bolton and  St Peters Volunteer Educational Programme Leader Graham Nichol.
Richard Avenue Primary School students with thier teacher, Chris Bolton and St Peters Volunteer Educational Programme Leader Graham Nichol.
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THE Anglo-Saxons are being brought to life by Wearside youngsters.

A new education programme has been developed at St Peter’s Church in Monkwearmouth to celebrate the important history of the building.

Sunderland City Council is carrying out a £1million redevelopment of the exterior of the site, including landscaping and a permanent outdoor ‘footprint’ of the original Wearmouth Monastery, built in 674 AD.

The work is due for completion in June and to encourage children to use and enjoy the space more, a series of experiences have been created to celebrate the life of the church, which was where the Venerable Bede lived and studied.

Experiences include dressing up as a monk and undertaking craft, music, literacy and role play activities to learn about how the monks lived.

Graham Nichol, a retired teacher and volunteer at St Peter’s who has developed the education program, said: “Everything has been designed to be flexible and tailored to each teacher’s needs and their class focus.

“We’ve had some great feedback from the groups we have piloted the activities with and hopefully more groups will come and learn more about this rich historical site which is right on our doorstep.”

It is hoped this will become a useful tool for schools to enjoy and learn from and the activities match the new National Curriculum Criteria at Key Stage 1 and 2, so primary aged children can further their learning in RE, history and geography with real experiences.

Chris Bolton, a teacher at Richard Avenue Primary School who visited the church with his Year 4 class, said: “Anglo-Saxons are on the new national curriculum, so these activities are the perfect opportunity for the children to match what they’re learning in the classroom with learning in a real environment, where Anglo-Saxons lived.

“They’ve really enjoyed it.”

Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, said: “St Peter’s Church is an important part of the history of Sunderland and it has been a centre of learning since Bede studied here.

“It’s fantastic to see it being used for this purpose again, and the landscaping works will mean they can learn more both inside and outside the church.”

School visits are offered as half or full day visits and the charge is £1 per child. All bookings should be made via the parish office by contacting Val Hughes, any weekday from 9am to 1pm on 516 0135 or email monkwearmouth.parish@durham.anglican.org.