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Heritage Project Showcases Rich Educational History

The Through Our Eyes Heritage Project was created by end2end TV CIC who have managed it in partnership with Bexley Council Archives, with support from Bexley Music and Hall Place & Gardens, Bexley. The project has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and it is thanks to lottery players that the project has and continues to celebrate the community of Bexley, the fascinating history behind our schools and, most of all, the incredibly talented young people who make them what they are.

As more and more young people become immersed in digital social media, their relationship with heritage around them is changing. This project has raised awareness of local history and enabled multiple groups of young people to research, identify and engage with the heritage of their schools. We worked with four diverse schools across Bexley, connecting young people geographically, enriching their experiences which resulted in various artistic outcomes that culminated in a digital interactive exhibition bringing local history to life, in The Stables Gallery at Hall Place, during February and March of this year. The very first digital exhibition that historic Hall Place had ever hosted! The local community were able to engage with history in a brand new interactive way; surrounded by creativity, getting hands-on with memorabilia and using Streamdecks to navigate and watch the brilliant legacy films produced by the children themselves. Quite literally walking down memory lane with the project team. 

The recent pandemic has heightened the interest young people have about the past, such as other world events including wars. Indeed, for some schools the Pandemic was the first time ever they had to close for any period of time. As part of this project we were keen to reach the last generation of people who remembered being at school during WW2 to capture their school day memories. Young people from multiple schools across Bexley have had the opportunity to work with industry professionals to research the history of their schools, conduct interviews with former students and create documentaries about their findings. 

The project partner schools were: 

Burnt Oak Junior School, part of The Pioneer Academy, is a vibrant ‘village-feel school’ within the heart of Sidcup’s community and steeped in history.

Old Bexley C of E Primary School, part of the Amadeas Primary Academies Trust, has an Anglican Christian community with a ‘family’ feel that nurtures and cares for everyone who is a part of it.

Bexley Grammar School is a co-educational grammar school with academy status in Welling. It is a warm and vibrant school that takes students from ages 11-18 and pushes them to strive for excellence.

Hurstmere School is a non-selective secondary academy for boys aged 11 – 16, serving the local community of Sidcup. Their vision is for the pupils to 'Believe and Achieve'; to be the best that they can be.

Students visited Bexley Archives and explored historic documents, interviewed former students directly and uncovered fascinating stories and cherished memories of past generations. Using this research, they wrote film scripts and produced documentaries about their schools’ heritage. 

These skilled students were not only in front of the camera but behind them too, using broadcast standard equipment under the guidance of end2end TV as the founders believe that young people learn best by using professional film technologies in a ‘hands on’ way. The result was not only a comprehensive exploration of our local school’s heritage, but also the childrens’ fascinating learning journey into TV Production. This included the opportunity to represent alumni memories using drama and advanced green screen techniques.

But creating captivating documentaries was not the end of these student’s learning journey, as they began their next challenge with Bexley Music. Students were tasked with composing a piece of music to capture the spirit of their school that could be used as part of the project. Picking up their instruments and listening to their musical mentors, they began to string melodies together and evoke the memories of school life gone by, many of them even writing song lyrics to develop their piece. Each school has their own student-made song that is part of the new heritage collection.

One further documentary that brought all the schools together was the collaboration into the impact of 11+ examinations. Primary and Secondary School pupils, both selective and non-selective, have produced a unique film about a subject that is often avoided. Researched and considered by Bexley pupils, both by delving into the archives and political stories already known, to interviewing hundreds of alumni who generously explained their thoughts about the test and reflected on the impact it had on them personally. This resulted in a rich collection of oral histories that have been made into a film that is destined to capture your attention no matter your age.  

The Official Through Our Eyes Heritage Project Launch

The launch event was held on the 20th February; the Grand Hall in Hall Place was set up as a cinema experience; merging heritage with modern technologies in a beautiful venue. The audience was over 100 people strong, including the worshipful Mayor and Mayoress of Bexley, Cllr & Mrs Dourmoush, guest speaker Mark Reid [former Head of Education at the British Film Institute], Bexley Councillors, esteemed composer Jeremy Jackson, Head Teachers, school staff, alumni, parents and other VIPs. The launch was introduced and presented eloquently by some of the young people who had participated in the project, who proudly led the launch event as they did the project itself.

Before the documentaries took centre stage, the audience was treated to an orchestral performance by Bexley Music: a piece especially commissioned and inspired by the children's historical research called 'An Eye on the Time'. The Bexley Youth Orchestra and Big Band paid homage to the rich heritage of local education, with the performance serving as a poignant reminder of how schools play an important part in shaping our communities and nurturing future generations. The opening performance took the audience from 1945 and the end of the war to the present day.

Following this, the audience were treated to the premiere of each captivating narrative woven into the students' documentaries. Each amazing film offered a unique perspective on the history of their respective school, shedding light on untold stories and cherished memories. From interviews with alumni to archival footage, the digital documentaries will serve as time capsules, preserving the legacy of these educational institutions for generations to come.

The launch event was not just about showcasing the students' achievements; it was a celebration of community spirit. Esteemed guests gathered to show their support and appreciation for the young filmmakers. 

The event fostered connections across generations and highlighted the importance of preserving and sharing our collective history. It was a wonderful gala evening led by the children themselves. True professionals and showing they were incredibly proud to take part in something that will leave a lasting impact - the project outcomes are destined to tour during 2024 until they are donated to Bexley Archives as a complete new heritage collection.


You can read more about the official launch here.

You can follow this project's journey and read more about the first ever digital exhibition to be held at Hall Place & Gardens in Bexley here. It was also featured on the BBC News which you can watch here.

The official Through Our Eyes heritage project website can be visited here.


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