IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


First World War Centenary Battlefields Tour Programme

A £5.3 million national education programme designed by IOE to provide the opportunity for secondary schools in England to visit battlefields on the Western Front.

First World War Centenary Battlefields Programme

6 September 2018


In 2013 the UK Government announced plans for a four-year nationwide cultural programme to mark the centenary of the First World War, including joint funding from the Department for Education and the Department for Communities and Local Government to develop a project to allow pupils and teachers to participate in battlefield tours of the western front.

After a process of tender, IOE was appointed to develop and deliver the £5.3 million First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme (FWWCBTP). 


A central part of centenary commemorations, FWWCBTP was given the responsibility to carry out a clear educational vision and pedagogical approach.

Somme: First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme

The programme had five primary objectives:

  • To offer every state funded secondary school in England the opportunity to participate in a high quality, four-day, and three-night tour of the battlefields and sites of the First World War
  • To develop a world leading professional development programme for teachers to ensure excellence in teaching about the First World War
  • To deepen students’ knowledge and understanding of the First World War and its contemporary significance
  • To support schools in reaching out and positively engaging communities nationwide
  • To create an enduring civic and educational legacy across the country.


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From the outset the initiative was designed to be much more than a one-off visit to the battlefields - providing a comprehensive, innovative and rich educational programme with three simple but essential components: before; during; and after.

To ensure the FWWCBTP’s maximum educational value, before participating in the tour teachers enrolled in a bespoke Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme designed by experts at IOE. This CPD programme (offered both online and face-to-face in locations across the country) prepares teachers (and students) for the tours by providing an array of information and advice. In particular, it helps teachers develop and design First World War enquiries for their schools which often focus on discovering how local communities were affected by the war.

A key aspect of the tour is to develop students’ curiosity and research skills. Students are encouraged to ‘discover’ aspects of the First World War which are important to their community and typically ensure they make a profound personal connection to this compelling history.

Teachers and students are also provided with a detailed 145-page tour booklet which offers a wealth of detailed information (including maps, photographs, diagrams) about the sites they visit. The booklet also addresses key questions, encourages meaningful commemoration and stimulates critical enquiry.

Simon Bendry

All tours were lead by IOE co-ordinators and experienced guides accredited by the Guild of Battlefield Guides, including Simon Bendry, the Programme Director for the FWWCBTP. A former Secondary Head of Humanities, Bendry is responsible for the strategic and operational elements for the programme, directing teams, the creation of learning and professional development resources.

A core component of this post tour engagement is the Legacy 110 initiative which encourages each student to engage with at least 110 people in the local community. Simply, the ambition was that if 8,000 students ‘reached’ 110 people, a total of 880,000 people would be engaged – a number symbolically equivalent to those British and Commonwealth soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War.

Participating schools across the country have developed a wide range of impressive Legacy 110 community projects. Its reach has exceeded 4.1 million people, with Legacy 110 projects showcased in 2017 by the BBC as part of Passchendaele100 and at Silverstone at the British Grand Prix. Every year thousands of projects are reviewed and outstanding ones are celebrated and recognised at an annual awards event held at the House of Lords.

Legacy 110 awards - Leasowes High School


The programme has significantly deepened the knowledge and understanding of thousands of teachers and millions of students in schools across England. It has also supported schools to ensure sustained engagement and meaningful impact in towns, cities and communities nationwide:

  • Almost 2,000 secondary schools (with an enrolment exceeding 2 million students) have participated
  • More than 6,000 teachers and students have participated in the tour programme
  • More than 4 million people in communities across England have engaged with the programme as a result of the incredible success of its Legacy 110 initiative
  • 98.6% of teachers rated the educational value of the programme as ‘excellent’ or ‘good’
  • 99.6% of participating students have developed ‘a deeper and broader’ understanding of the First World War
  • The programme has won 4 major awards since 2014, including EducationInvestor Magazine’s 'Education Partnership of the Year'.

Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery: First World War Centenary Battlefield Tours Programme

A growing body of evidence also exists to show that teaching and learning about the First World War has significantly improved across the country as a result of the programme. For example, 92.2% of teachers say they will seriously review and improve their teaching as a result of the programme. In addition, 86% of teachers report they are more likely to take their students on a battlefield tour as a result of their involvement.

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