Up for discussion?

Should we stay or should we go now?

Britain has been part of the European Union, or “club” since 1973, in a bid to bring Europe closer together. For the 40 years that the UK’s been a member of the EU, there’s been a debate about our role within it. Some feel being part of this bigger club makes the UK richer and more important. Others argue that the EU takes power away from Britain. They feel that people who aren’t British shouldn’t be making laws for this country. They also feel it costs Britain too much money.

EU Vote

Why do people want the UK to leave the EU?

There are many reasons, but a big one is that some people believe Britain is being held back by the EU, which they say forces too many rules on the UK.

They also want Britain to limit the number of people coming here to work from other European countries.

Euro-sceptics worry that the UK is losing the power to make its own laws to the EU.

They think these laws might not best suit us but we might find it difficult to change them.

They also think the EU wastes money and resources.

Some Euro-sceptics want to opt out of certain rules and stay in the EU, others want Britain to pull out of Europe altogether.

The Prime Minister David Cameron’s own Conservative Party is divided on Europe.

It has a number of passionate Euro-sceptics who disagree with other members of the party.

EU Say No

Why do people want the UK to stay in the EU?

They believe Britain gets a big boost from being a member of European Union – it makes buying and selling things to other EU countries easier.

They also believe Britain is stronger as part of a big club than on its own. They think being in the EU is a good idea.

Britain stronger

Pro-Europeans think Britain benefits from being part of a larger group of countries and that it’s good for our economy.  They argue that Britain might be in danger of being left behind by everyone else, if it isn’t in EU.

What do you think?


The following links are direct links to the campaigns set up to persuade people to vote in favour of staying or leaving the European Union this summer.

Remember though! Health warning attached – persuasive campaigning does not always give the complete picture (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3bfO1rE7Yg). Make sure that you read both viewpoints before you come to a decision, on whether we should stay or go.




EU debate

What is the referendum all about? (Isn’t it good to talk?)


On 23 June, people across Britain will be able to vote whether the UK should continue to be a member of the European Union (EU). Adults will be asked to decide whether or not the UK should stay in or leave a club of countries, known as the European Union. The public vote, (called a referendum) is a vote in which all adults can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of the votes wins. In 2013, British Prime Minister David Cameron promised that if his political party, the Conservatives, won the next general election, then he would let voters have their say on whether or not the UK should stay in or leave the European Union. They won the election, so the referendum is on.

The European Union is a group of 28 countries in Europe whose governments work together. It began after World War Two with the idea that the best chance of stopping another world war was by countries working more closely together. It’s a bit like a club. To join you have to agree to follow certain rules and in return you get certain benefits. When countries work together, they are much more able to get along, and help each other out in times of crisis.

American President Barack Obama has come to Britain purposefully to explain how important this referendum is, as he understands the importance of lessons learnt from the past. To prevent war, countries need to get along, communicate, and work closely together. He has urged Britons to reject a so-called ‘Brexit’ from the European Union saying, “the European Union doesn’t moderate British influence – it magnifies it. A strong Europe is not a threat to Britain’s global leadership; it enhances Britain’s global leadership…The outcome of your decision is a matter of deep interest to the United States, as the tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries are a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.”

Obama said that while the U.K. faces many of the same challenges as the U.S., including migration, economic inequality and terrorism, the best way to address them is through collective action.


Are we still learning lessons from the past?

Images of a war- torn Europe: refugees returning home and the sacrifice of the brave.

International Women's Day

10 Female Revolutionaries you might not have heard of!


We all know male revolutionaries like Che Guevara, but history (or rather His Story) often tends to gloss over the contributions of female revolutionaries that have sacrificed their time, efforts, and lives to work towards burgeoning systems and ideologies. Despite misconceptions, there are many women that have participated in revolutions throughout history, with many of them playing crucial roles. They may come from different points on the political spectrum, with some armed with weapons and some armed with nothing but a pen, but all fought hard for something that they believed in.

Let’s take a look at 10 of these female revolutionaries from all over the world that you probably won’t ever see plastered across a college student’s T-shirt.

Nadezhda Krupskaya

Many people know Nadezhda Krupskaya simply as Vladimir Lenin’s wife, but Nadezhda was a Bolshevik revolutionary and politician in her own right. She was heavily involved in a variety of political activities, including serving as the Soviet Union’s Deputy Minister of Education from 1929 until her death in 1939, and a number of educational pursuits. Prior to the revolution, she served as secretary of the Iskra group, managing continent-wide correspondence, much of which had to be decoded. After the revolution, she dedicated her life to improving education opportunities for workers and peasants, for example by striving to make libraries available to everyone.

Constance Markievicz

Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) was an Anglo-Irish Countess, Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. She participated in many Irish independence efforts, including the Easter Rising of 1916, in which she had a leadership role. During the Rising, she wounded a British sniper before being forced to retreat and surrender. After, she was the only woman out of 70 to be put into solitary confinement. She was sentenced to death, but was pardoned based on her gender. Interestingly, the prosecuting counsel claimed that she begged “I am only a woman, you cannot shoot a woman”, while court records show she said “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me”. Constance was one of the first women in the world to hold a cabinet position (Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic, 1919–1922), and she was also the first woman elected to the British House of Commons (December 1918)—a position which she rejected due to the Sinn Féin abstentionist policy.


Petra Herrera

During the Mexican Revolution, female soldiers known as soldaderas went into combat along with the men although they often faced abuse. One of the most well-known of the soldaderas was Petra Herrera, who disguised her gender and went by the name “Pedro Herrera”. As Pedro, she established her reputation by demonstrating exemplary leadership (and blowing up bridges) and was able to reveal her gender in time. She participated in the second battle of Torreón on May 30, 1914 along with about 400 other women, even being named by some as being deserving of full credit for the battle. Unfortunately, Pancho Villa was likely unwilling to give credit to a woman and did not promote her to General. In response, Petra left Villa’s forces and formed her own all-woman brigade.



Nwanyeruwa, an Igbo woman in Nigeria, sparked a short war that is often called the first major challenge to British authority in West Africa during the colonial period. On November 18, 1929, an argument between Nwanyeruwa and a census man named Mark Emereuwa broke out after he told her to “count her goats, sheep and people.” Understanding this to mean she would be taxed (traditionally, women were not charged taxes), she discussed the situation with the other women and protests, deemed the Women’s War, began to occur over the course of two months. About 25,000 women all over the region were involved, protesting both the looming tax changes and the unrestricted power of the Warrant Chiefs. In the end, women’s position were greatly improved, with the British dropping their tax plans, as well as the forced resignation of many Warrant Chiefs.


Lakshmi Sehgal

Lakshmi Sahgal, colloquially known as “Captain Lakshmi”, was a revolutionary of the Indian independence movement, an officer of the Indian National Army, and later, the Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Azad Hind government. In the 40s, she commanded the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, an all-women regiment that aimed to overthrow British Raj in colonial India. The regiment was one of the very few all-female combat regiments of WWII on any side, and was named after another renowned female revolutionary in Indian history, Rani Lakshmibai, who was one of the leading figures of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.


Sophie Scholl

German revolutionary Sophie Scholl was a founding member of the non-violent anti-Nazi resistance group The White Rose, which advocated for active resistance to Hitler’s regime through an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign. In February of 1943, she and other members were arrested for handing out leaflets at the University of Munich and sentenced to death by guillotine. Copies of the leaflet, retitled The Manifesto of the Students of Munich, were smuggled out of the country and millions were air-dropped over Germany by Allied forces later that year.


Blanca Canales

Blanca Canales was a Puerto Rican Nationalist who helped organize the Daughters of Freedom, the women’s branch of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party. She was one of the few women in history to have led a revolt against the United States, known as the Jayuya Uprising. In 1948, a severely restricting bill known as the Gag Bill, or Law 53, was introduced that made it a crime to print, publish, sell, or exhibit any material intended to paralyze or destroy the insular government. In response, the Nationalists starting planning armed revolution. On October 30, 1950, Blanca and others took up arms which she had stored in her home and marched into the town of Jayuya, taking over the police station, burning down the post office, cutting the telephone wires, and raising the Puerto Rican flag in defiance of the Gag Law. As a result, the US President declared martial law and ordered Army and Air Force attacks on the town. The Nationalists held on for awhile, but were arrested and sentenced to life in prison after 3 days. Much of Jayuya was destroyed, and the incident was not fairly covered by US media, with the US President even saying it was “an incident between Puerto Ricans.”


Celia Sanchez

Most people know Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, but fewer people have heard of Celia Sanchez, the woman at the heart of the Cuban Revolution who has even been rumored to be the main decision-maker. After the March 10, 1952 coup, Celia joined the struggle against the Batista government. She was a founder of the 26th of July Movement, leader of combat squads throughout the revolution, controlled group resources, and even made the arrangements for theGranma landing, which transported 82 fighters from Mexico to Cuba in order to overthrow Batista. After the revolution, Celia remained with Castro until her death.


Kathleen Neal Cleaver

Kathleen Neal Cleaver was a member of the Black Panther Party and the first female member of the Party’s decision-making body. She served as spokesperson and press secretary and organized the national campaign to free the Party’s minister of defence, Huey Newton, who had been jailed. She and other women, such as Angela Davis, made up around 2/3 of the Party at one point, despite the notion that the BPP was overwhelmingly masculine.


Asmaa Mahfouz

Asmaa Mahfouz is a modern-day revolutionary who is credited with sparking the January 2011 uprising in Egypt through a video blog post encouraging others to join her in protest in Tahrir Square. She is considered one of the leaders of the Egyptian Revolution and is a prominent member of Egypt’s Coalition of the Youth of the Revolution.


Competition - Never such innocence

Competition for all West Exe School students

Calling all Historians! You are invited to send in your poems or artwork inspired by the events of the First World War. Please go to the link for the resource pack to get you started. This charts the history of the First World War as well as specific topics including the Commonwealth and the Homefront. The pack is available as a free download. http://www.neversuchinnocence.com/

Innocence1 Innocence2

You can also find tips on writing poetry and creating artwork.

Parents! Learning at Home
This is a competition that you might like to turn into a project to do at home as a family. Perhaps visit your local library  (Exeter City Library, RAMM) and/or memorials  for more inspiration. Does your own family history shed light on the experience of this war?

Next steps:
Go to the website , and explore the links at http://www.cwgc.org/

Watch this free play here: https://www.treepress.org/scripts/never-such-innocence

click on this for a glossary , and top tips on writing poetry: http://neversuchinnocence.com/view/nsi_resources_%2526_downloads

Visit the school library for fantastic poetry, biography, fiction related to this period.

Speak to your History teacher for further links and resources.

Submission date: 25th March 2016

Up for discussion - What's happening in Paris?

Paris1A number of attacks have taken place in Paris, France on Friday night. From bars, to rock concerts, football matches, to restaurants, over one hundred people have been killed. The French police and army were called in to help keep people safe. France has declared an emergency and 1,500 soldiers are now helping police across the city.

People across the world have shared their sympathies, from taking part in candle lit vigils, to simply changing their profiles to the tricolour. Crowds gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square, where the French national anthem and other French songs were sung. Similar vigils were held in places like Berlin, Moscow, Sydney and Rio.

Many  countries have shown that they’re standing side by side with France, by sending messages of support and lighting their iconic buildings with the colours of the French flag – red, white and blue.UK Prime Minister David Cameron has spoken out following the attacks in Paris. He spoke about his shock and said Britain will “stand united” with France. The extremist Islamic group known as IS, or the Islamic State, have now said they are responsible for the attacks.IS are an extremist group based mainly in Syria and Iraq.

There are lots of problems and fighting in Syria and Iraq. One cause is the difference between two groups – Sunnis and Shias – who both follow the religion of Islam.  French President Francois Hollande has called the attacks in Paris an “act of war” carried out by IS.

US President Barack Obama said America will stand with France saying ‘This is a heart breaking situation’.

Up for Discussion - Crisis in the Mediterranean


Each year thousands of men, women and children attempt a dangerous journey across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.

Many of them are trying to escape poverty and war in their home countries. However this journey is very dangerous and hundreds of people have died trying to reach Europe.  Criminal gangs pack too many people into small boats, which leak and often sink.

The United Nations says 13,500 migrants have been rescued trying to reach Europe so far this year. Around 35,000 migrants have arrived from Africa in 2015.On 18 April a boat carrying up to 900 people sank. Many  died including children. Most migrants travelling to Italy are from Eritrea, Mali and Nigeria. They travel through Africa to Libya.   There are also a huge number of migrants trying to reach Europe from Syria, trying to escape a civil war in their own country.


Today the European Union has been trying to put in place a fairer way to resettle asylum-seekers at a time when anti-immigration parties are on the rise. Last week the EU commission set up a plan to take in 20,000 migrants over two years and distribute them across Europe.  “No country should be left alone to address huge migratory pressures,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on his Twitter account after the proposals were published. Italy and other southern European countries are clamoring for EU help to deal with the influx but, while Italy, Germany and Austria back a quota system, some EU states are opposed. Britain, one of its largest members, has already opted out of this.


What do you think should be done? Join in the discussion by following the links:




Up for Discussion - Faces of Conflict


Faces of Conflict is an exhibition  running from 17 January to 5 April 2015 at the RAMM. It documents  the facial disfigurement experienced by servicemen in the First World War. Whilst some  people may find these images disturbing, they are thought-provoking and relevant to History GCSE students studying  ‘Medicine through Time.’  Pioneering surgeons were developing new techniques to reduce the impact of men’s injuries. However, they were influenced by artists helping them to understand the structures of the face and sculptors working alongside them making masks to help disguise injuries.


Historians estimate that between 11 and 14% of all wounded soldiers were injured in the face, and that many tens of thousands remained severely disfigured. Specialised maxillofacial units opened to treat facially injured combatants. Inter-Allied conferences and visits from foreign doctors helped spread innovations internationally. The surgeon Harold Gillies worked with dentist Auguste Charles Valadier and observed the work of surgeon Morestin at the Val-de-Grâce hospital, in Paris – one of the pioneering centres in reconstructive surgery. There the men were fitted with masks that concealed their wounds. If they effectively concealed their damaged faces, the masks however failed to convey the wearer’s emotions and were quite uncomfortable to wear. Many disfigured men therefore chose to wear a piece of cloth to cover their scars, or to leave their faces uncovered. To find out more, please follow the link below, or visit the RAMM this Easter holiday!


Up for discussion - DIG

Up for discussion:  Huge skeleton excavation in London at a burial ground:  What on earth (or under) do they expect to unearth?

When present meets the past: An ancient cemetery has been unearthed by workers who were digging for a new railway that will run through London. Now, because of this fascinating find, archaeologists are beginning a huge dig of medieval skeletons from this burial ground  this week.


The dig will examine nearly 3,000 skeletons that were buried in the 1600s during the Great Plague.

Around 60 archaeologists will work six days a week for the next month, to remove the skeletons and carefully record evidence from the site.



The lead archaeologist on the project, Jay Carver said: “This excavation presents a unique opportunity to understand the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners.” By carrying out tests on the skeletons, scientists hope they’ll be able to gain a better understanding of how the bacteria that caused the plague evolved.

Year 7 Historians, just as much as GCSE medicine students will certainly be curious to find out more as this story unfolds.

Interested in finding out about a career in archaeology?

Follow the link to Exeter University archaeology department at http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/archaeology/ to find out more!

Up for discussion - The Scottish referendum


A referendum asks you to vote yes or no to a question or proposal.

In seven days’ time, people across Scotland will face a massive choice – whether or not to become an independent country, separate from the United Kingdom.

The people of Scotland will be asked the simple question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Scotland has been part of the UK for more than 300 years, so the vote is a huge moment for the country, as over 5million people live here.

What do you think? West Exe students can leave a message on the discussion wall in room F039, or poll yes to leave, no to stay on the tally chart.


Magna Carta - why does it matter?


Next year we will be celebrating the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta (means “great charter” ) one of history’s most important legal documents, and the basis of English law.

Big deal!

So what ?

Who cares anyway?

Actually…we should all care! This list of basic human rights protects each and every one of us living in Britain.

The Magna Carta was written in 1215 stating that that nobody, not even the King, was above the law. The barons had stood up to King John’s oppressive government and demanded that a contract be drawn out stating that everyone should be treated fairly.

David Cameron said this week that every child in the UK should be taught about the charter as part of a drive to promote British values of fairness and respect. In medieval times, this meant trial by jury (and not by water or a hot iron bar) and respect (no more widows and daughters could be sold by the king) amongst many other wonderful values that are fundamental to our justice system and throughout the West Exe community; tolerance , fairness and restorative approaches.

Remembering D-Day 70 years on


D-Day was a huge invasion during World War II after 5 years of war with Nazi Germany; the biggest one in history. Today, the seventieth anniversary, there are commemorations being held in many countries, with the main events in Normandy being attended by world leaders. Do take some time today to watch, listen and read about the events of D Day and think about the experiences of those who were there.






Discussion: will Nigeria’s school girls ever be found?

nigeria1Boko Haram (whose name means “Western education is forbidden” ) is a terrorist organisation responsible for the kidnap of 276 schoolgirls from their boarding school on the night of 14 April. The abductions show the group’s visceral hatred for Western education.

In a video released earlier this week, Boko Haram’s leader threatened to “sell” the students, saying they should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.


It is believed the girls are being held somewhere in the forest.


“If we remain silent, this will spread.” MalalaYousafzai


Doing nothing condones such acts.

So what can we do as individuals and as the West Exe community?

The Amnesty International group will be leading a campaign this week. Look out for further posts.


#BringBackOurGirls social media campaign to see/add to others have being saying .

Discussion - what is happening in Ukraine?

Ukraine is at the centre of a big argument between the world’s most powerful countries,  Russia and America.  The territory in the south of Ukraine is  called Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent thousands of soldiers into Crimea because he says he needs to protect Russian people who live there. But US and other European countries  say that Russia has  taken over the region.
Ukraine has had a violent few months that have caused some massive changes in the country.

Big protests against the government have taken place in the capital, Kiev. This was because some people are unhappy about having closer links with Russia, as it compromises their relationship with Europe . However Russia has supported Ukraine by investing lots of money into the country, and cutting the price of gas imported from Russia. There is a real struggle for Ukraine to be independent.

The protests have led to lots of protesters being  shot and killed, and hundreds more have been  injured by police who tried to remove them. The protests became more violent, and the  President  was forced to run away, and is in  Russia. He has promised to return.
In the mean time, Obama has demanded that Putin pull his troops out as he is violating international peace.  And Putin has refused. Is this a battle of wills? Join the discussion  FO39 thought wall.


Discussion - homelessness in Exeter

What can be done to help the homeless in Exeter?


homeless2 homeless3

Holocaust Memorial Day 2014

Sheila Baker, Head of History, presented assemblies during the week of Holocaust Memorial Day. To see the assembly please click ‘Play’ below.

[vimeo video_id=”85261750″ width=”400″ height=”300″ title=”Yes” byline=”Yes” portrait=”Yes” autoplay=”No” loop=”No” color=”00adef”]