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Three more school visits

It’s been a busy fortnight here at SHARE with Schools! We’ve been out on trips to Cathays High, Woodlands High, and Michaelston Community College. Michaelston and Woodlands are part of the Ely and Caerau Federation, aka Westfed.

Volunteer coordinator Matt Vince on the Cathays visit:

Cathays visit – WW1 workshop

Last week myself, a handful of volunteers, and 40 secondary school pupils went on an adventure back in time. Back to the dreary times of World War 1 Cardiff. I must admit I was nervous. To me World War 1 is depressing – muddy boots, muddy bodies, and muddled tactics that caused both.

But through the workshop, and the stories of real life Cardiffians, World War 1 came to life before our eyes. The volunteers were absolutely incredible in this task, guiding the pupils through the artefacts in order to get at their underlying stories. From the Belgian ‘alien’ to the soldier on the Egyptian front, the pupils got to grips with the heritage of their area. Walking around the room and hearing stories from the pupil’s own families made this both incredibly relevant and exciting – tales of Grandfathers who were conscripted from Cathays where the school was, and Grandmothers who had shown the pupil’s letters from the front.

So a big thank you goes out to the volunteers who achieved this monumental task – bringing the past to life for the benefit of those in the present. It went so well that even the Ofsted inspector was impressed!

Thanks to:

  • Julia Rooke
  • Caitlin Fleming
  • Kieran Murphy
  • Clara Freer
  • Benjamin Dillon
  • Chris Parry

And coordinator Nick McDermot on the Woodlands trip:

On Tuesday SHARE with schools returned to Woodlands, to present 2 workshops. 19th Century Welsh life, thanks to artefacts provided by St Fagan’s natural history museum and Cardiff University conservation department. Also a unique workshop was presented by a group of students from Cardiff University’s Heritage and Communications module on Welsh myths and Legends.

Both workshops went very well and lead to some wonderful discussions of the difference between life in the 19th century and life today as well lots of artefact handling and examination.

A big thanks to the volunteers that made the day possible:

  • Charlotte Porter
  • Chris Parry
  • Daisy Atkins
  • Madeleine Moorcroft
  • Megan Keary
  • Alisha Chauhan

And finally a big thank you to Stephanie Hall and Caitlin Fleming who delivered at Michaelston yesterday with co-ordinators Kate Tinson and Kostas Trimmis and Dr Dave Wyatt. By all accounts it was an inspiring visit to Michaelston Community College in Ely, with 3 workshops delivered (2 x Life in 19th century Wales 1x Cardiff in WW1) to over 70 pupils in 3 hours. One of the school teachers said that “all the lessons seemed to go really well, the best I’ve seen our pupils engaged for a long time”! Here’s some images from the trip:

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Guest blog by volunteer Kelsey Clarke

Kelsey Clarke

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What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up?

During my first year at Cardiff I wanted to sign up to volunteer with SHARE with Schools, but I convinced myself that I did not have enough knowledge to go out and deliver the workshops. What if these children knew more than me? What if they asked me a question and I couldn’t answer? What if I mess up? – All these questions flew around my mind, and I didn’t sign up. I immediately regretted this after talking to Jodie, a SHARE with Schools volunteer in 2013/14, who reassured me that it would be completely fine. She was right.

As a second year Religious Studies student, I was still nervous that I wouldn’t know enough but I signed up. I then signed up to numerous training sessions and was pleasantly surprised that not only did I know more than what I thought, but almost everyone was having the same thoughts as me about delivering the workshops. Catherine and numerous other co-ordinators made me feel at ease during the training sessions. They explained everything with clarity and ensured everybody was on the same wavelength for every single workshop.

Every time I signed up to go on a visit, Cath would send out all of the crib sheets as soon as possible. This was brilliant for preparation purposes, and it also enabled everyone to edit the crib notes to suit themselves.

Mountain Ash school with snowy peaks behind

Mountain Ash Comprehensive School

My first SHARE with Schools visit was to Mountain Ash Comprehensive School. I’m from the Cynon Valley area and it was amazing to go into a local school. On the morning of the visit I had so many nervous butterflies, but I decided these were a good sign. It showed that I genuinely cared about what I was doing. Throughout the day we delivered 2 x ‘Romans in Wales’ ‘The Three Orders of Medieval Society’ and ‘Life in the 19th Century Cynon Valley’, and the group grew more confident with each workshop, and although my butterflies were there throughout the visit, it was just a constant reminder to me that I wanted to do a good job with all of the workshops and really make an impression on the pupils. We delivered the workshops to pupils from years 7-9 but with varying academic abilities, including SEN [Special Educational Needs] pupils. All of the pupils engaged so well with everything, they loved the ‘hands-on’ parts of the workshop and this also drew out the best in them. The objects brought to life what we had previously spoken to them about, enabling their understanding more.

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SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

My second SHARE with Schools visit was to Pencoed Comprehensive School. We delivered 2 x ‘Who wants to be a museum curator?’ here and it worked so well with the pupils. I was genuinely surprised at how much some of the children knew about museums and how enthusiastic they were about the idea of creating their own display. I believe this worked well because although the pupils had to create their display and find out about objects, they had free reign in doing so. The results of their work were amazing.

I can honestly say that I did not see anyone not doing what they were supposed to do or messing around in any of the visits. All of the pupils were polite and treated both the objects and the SHARE with Schools volunteers with the utmost respect. They were a credit to their schools.

SHARE with Schools has provided me with a plethora of transferable skills which I can use in the future. The whole SHARE with Schools experience has reassured me that I definitely want to apply for a Secondary Education PGCE in RE, and that it is well worth pursuing a career in teaching. SHARE with Schools has definitely been one of the highlights of my second year, and I can’t wait to see what next year holds!

Guest blog by volunteer Beth Cox

Beth Cox

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providing kids with something different from their ordinary lessons and letting them handle genuine Roman pottery really captures their attention so I’ve rarely encountered problems with discipline

I went to my first ever SHARE With Schools Project event early in my second year and I was terrified: terrified I wouldn’t know what to say, terrified the kids wouldn’t listen; terrified I knew nothing about the Romans. But I loved it! I came home, signed up for ever other one that year and promptly fell asleep for three and a half hours. The enthusiasm from the kids was amazing and the feedback from the teachers (who like dressing up just as much as the kids!) encouraged my want to teach ten-fold. The teachers are really supportive and offer great advice if, like me, you want to go into teaching. Going into my third year at Cardiff University, I told myself I would only do one or two-naturally this turned into three or four. It became sort of addictive: not only to want to teach these children who you can genuinely imagine running home to tell their parents about us, but also the opportunity to talk to other students with the same love as you. Over the two years I have been involved, I have done most of the workshops including Roman Wales and Museum Exhibition. I went into this knowing nothing about the Romans at all and this worried me because how could I teach it if I knew nothing about it? But the crib sheet is easy to use and if you ever get stuck or lost, another team member will step in without even blinking. I have now taught all ages and in a variety of schools including one solely for children with special educational needs and Willows High School which is about to be featured in the latest in the ‘Educating’ series, Educating Cardiff.

For most of them I felt I was prepared, though I do feel the crib sheets should be available somewhere in advance rather than being emailed a few days beforehand but I’m one of those people who have to do things in advance! The latest project I was involved in was a series of workshops at Caerau Hillfort where the original activity we had planned couldn’t happen so we had to switch activities last minute. By the end of the day, the children were quite restless and I ended up doing part of my talk about medieval clothing relating it to Game of Thrones-either complete genius or I’ve ruined the series for them…But by providing kids with something different from their ordinary lessons and letting them handle genuine Roman pottery really captures their attention so I’ve rarely encountered problems with discipline. To improve on my role in SHARE [with Schools] (though I’ve sworn not to do anymore, we’ll see how long my resolve lasts!) I would read around subjects I feel less comfortable with such as the Romans.

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this project was my most talked about experience and it fascinated all the interviewers

I’ve just come back from teacher training interviews and, though this project should not be considered solely for those who want to go into teaching, this project was my most talked about experience and it fascinated all the interviewers. It gives you first-hand experience of a classroom setting and being a reflective practitioner as well as demonstrating team work, thinking on your feet and organisation. For those who want to teach in Wales, it is also a massive networking opportunity. I was offered positions in a school after one session and I ended up doing a couple of days observation at this school-which worked out great at interviews as I could say I might be on Educating Cardiff! If anyone is thinking about doing this, it’s so simple to do, transport and the lessons are provided, you’re not in charge of discipline in the classroom but you get to genuinely feel like you’ve had an impact on these children. My personal highlight was after we were in a class of children with various personal difficulties and the teacher came up to us at the end and said ‘you have no idea how much of a change you’ve brought on these kids, normally it’s so hard to get them engaged in anything!’. If I could, I’d go to every session I could but it’s got to the time that I have to focus on my degree.

Guest post by volunteer Jon Langston

We’re happy to present the first of a new series of guest blog posts from our student volunteers. Enjoy!


My name is Jon Langston, a third year ancient history student. I felt compelled to participate in the SHARE With Schools Outreach Project as it would offer me an insight to a potential career in education. Not only this but it offered somewhat of an escape from the academic rigours of university life.

I presented to three sets of year groups, years 7, 8, and 9. This brings with it a range of ages and abilities which proved both challenging and stimulating. The workshops I was involved in delivering were ‘Romans in Wales’ ‘The Three Orders of Medieval Society’ and ‘Life in the 19th Century Cynon Valley’ in the end I delivered all sections of each workshop. From religion of the 19th century to medieval battle tactics. This breadth of topics meant that it was engaging for both the school children and us students. Grappling with subjects we have never had to consider in our university lives.

We received training sessions, which adequately prepped us with a general overview of what each workshop was comprised of. This, along with, crib notes sent to us informing us of our roles and so on gave us plenty of time to be prepared for our sessions. As well as this we were briefed as to the ability and sizes of classes before we got to the school, this allowed us to adjust our delivery of the workshop for different groups.

This preparation meant that, despite the nerves, we were able to deliver a consistent and, perhaps more importantly, engaging learning environment for the students in the class. The workshops went smoothly, sometimes we had the post graduate students to help if we were lost and to keep on track with timings. This safety net was much appreciated and the fact that we knew it was there meant we felt more confident in our delivery.

The pupils were very receptive of our sessions. Seeing the look on the children’s faces when something just clicked or we brought out something to wear or even better the swords was a delight to me. My favourite moment was a year 8 boy who stayed behind to talk to us about everything he knew about the medieval period. He asked if we would be back next year, we assured him we would and his face was one of joy as he left the classroom.

This experience has given me an insight to a possible career. Not only this, but it has enabled me to grow in confidence in my public speaking and presentational skills. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to improve these skills along with many others!

Some sections of the workshops were a bit too wordy, such as the main body of the Romans in Wales workshop. This I felt resulted in many children losing focus. However the other two workshops I participated in had just the right levels of interactive learning and ‘whiteboard’ learning to keep the children engaged throughout.

Overall SHARE with Schools was one of the highlights of my university experience. Not only did it help with my academic abilities but it also helped me meet many people outside of my degree programme. I will return!

Jon Langston

Volunteers talk about visiting Mary Immaculate

Here’s some footage from the archives. Volunteers talk to us about one of the early workshop deliveries in the SHARE with Schools programme, at Mary Immaculate Catholic School, Cardiff.

Happily for us, Kelsey, one of the volunteers featured in the video above, stuck with SHARE with Schools through her undergraduate studies and into her postgraduate degree. Now she is not just a seasoned stalwart of our outreach activities, she is a key member of the team of Postgraduate Coordinators that run SHARE with Schools.