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Inspiring great writing with a visit to the Mary Rose…

It is well known that school visits to museums are a powerful tool to support teachers in delivering outstanding teaching and learning.


“Learning outside the classroom is about raising young people’s achievement through an organised, powerful approach to learning in which direct experience is of prime importance.”

Council for Learning Outside the Classroom


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If more proof were needed of this, look no further than this amazing writing by 8-10 year olds at St John the Baptist CE Primary School, Waltham Chase, Hampshire who visited the museum recently and took part in the Tudor Gun Drill. Their teacher, Lou Rhodes, got in touch to say that they had written diaries of a sailor who survived the sinking of the Mary Rose inspired by their visit. When they arrived we were amazed at the high standard of their work. Lou said: “The trip certainly captured their imagination and they have produced some super writing on the back of it.” We’re sure you will agree!


“Dear Diary, As I’m sat here, the feeling of disbelief fills my heart. With my quill shaking in my sweaty palms…I can still hear my heart pounding in my chest like a tribal drum. This is the worst day of my life.”

Jack T


“In the morning me and my mates were sitting at the wooden table next to our beds. We were laughing and gambling, with our tiny dice, but don’t tell the commander of the deck…Suddenly gunshots sounded. We were being attacked. We had to fight and we had to win! Fire! Boom!” Cries rang out from the French ship and it began to back away to the Isle of Wight.”  



“I saw the plates, tables and even the Barber-Surgeon’s tools fly to the left of the ship. I fell on the syringes and knives. I felt the orlop deck crumble and crack, after that I decided I had to get out.” Jack M


“Breaking through the surface of the water, I paddled towards the land. A woman ran towards me with a towel. Her figure was tall and slim. With her long blonde hair swinging like a horses tail, she ran to me. My wife? I was safe…for now.”



“A single tear trickles down my hopeless, shocked, tired face. I feel despair and a lot of fear. What now? Where now? I will live to tell this tale.”



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Mary Kinoulty, Head of Learning said: “The diary entries are extraordinarily good.  I was so impressed with the quality their imaginative writing and their powers of expression. The authentic details using artefacts they saw in the museum would rival even top historical authors like C J Sansom.”


Mike Wyles, education volunteer and retired teacher, says: “Our aim is to give inspiration for outstanding writing for all using activities which stimulate the senses. In the museum pupils are immersed in the Tudor world. Reluctant writers, as well as gifted and talented pupils, astound us time and again with the detail and breadth of vocabulary stimulated by their visit to the museum.”


For the pupils at St John the Baptist School the work doesn’t stop there, their next challenge involves role play, communication and critical thinking. Lou says: “We are ending this week with a court room scenario (us teachers have judges’ wigs to wear to add authenticity!) in which the pupils will present reasoned arguments explaining why the Mary Rose sank.”


Inspired to bring your pupils? Get in touch education@maryrose.org

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