Thurrock prize-winning pupils visited by Queen Victoria

STUDENTS at Kenningtons Primary School and Beacon Hill Academy were visited by a very important person on Thursday 14 July. To mark their achievements as winners of the Time Explorers Challenge, a royal visitor, Queen Victoria, visited both schools to thank them for the work they had done about her reign.

The Time Explorers Challenge is an exciting nine-month flagship learning programme from heritage charity Historic Royal Palaces. Kenningtons and Beacon Hill took part in the challenge as part of the Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer programme.

Beacon Hill Academy won the Cross Curricular prize for their work on the Victorians. Queen Victoria arrived with an array of Victorian toys for the students to play with in the school grounds such as quoits, diabolo and cup and ball.

The overall winner of the 2016 Time Explorers Challenge was Kenningtons Primary School in Ockendon, where pupils wrote and performed their own Young Victoria play, created peg dolls and models of Kensington Palace, held a Victorian Music Hall event and even hosted their own Victorian pop-up museum. Lead teacher Bianca Brand has observed an increased sense of community and a high level of parental engagement inspired by the programme, with pupils requesting regular sharing assemblies to celebrate art, culture and history, and with the teachers even launching their own singing club.

Time Explorers Challenge is offered to all London primary schools and Royal Opera House Thurrock Trailblazer schools, with Historic Royal Palaces hosting teacher training sessions, school visits and workshops at Kensington Palace. This year’s challenge allowed over 3,000 children to delve into the story of young Victoria at her childhood home. The programme culminates in a creative project which is completed at school, providing teachers and pupils with continued engagement with the stories from across the palaces within the charity’s care.

Catherine Jones, Learning and Engagement, Historic Royal Palaces, said: ‘As the custodians of six royal palaces, each brimming with fascinating stories and characters, we are always looking for new ways to engage our youngest visitors in history. Our Time Explorers Challenge programme enables schools to explore the past in fun and creative ways. This year’s Victoria themed challenge has seen hundreds of children from across London and Thurrock unleash their imaginations as they’ve explored the life of a young Queen at Kensington Palace. We’re thrilled with the results!’

Gabrielle Forster-Still, Deputy Head of Learning and Participation, Royal Opera House Thurrock said; ‘The partnership between the Royal Opera House’s Thurrock Trailblazer programme and the Historic Royal Palace’s Time Explorers Challenge has gone from strength to strength in the last two years.

Thurrock Trailblazer is an innovative programme of high quality arts and cultural activities and works with a wide range of cultural partners to deliver exciting arts and cultural activities to thousands of children and young people and their teachers in Thurrock schools. There is real synergy between the two programmes in their focus on whole school learning, cross-arts working and teacher development. Over the last two years, 25 schools from Thurrock have taken part in the Time Explorers Challenge and we look forward to continuing to develop our partnership with Historic Royal Palaces.

To find out more about the Thurrock Trailblazer programme, please go to www.roh.org.uk/trailblazer or email Thurrock.trailblazer@roh.org.uk

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