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10th September 2019

CND Peace Education Volunteer, Magda Gruszczynska, reflects on a record-breaking year for CND Peace Education.

There is a lot to be celebrated in CND Peace Education as a new academic year begins. With almost 200 workshops across 70 Primary and Secondary schools delivered between September 2018 and June 2019, our programme reached over 30% more students than in the previous academic year. We have also been continuing our teacher training sessions, equipping another 450 new teachers with skills and knowledge on how to approach controversial issues with their students. Each session has provided us with an opportunity to learn and improve on our work. The feedback we collected last year reflects the importance of delivering Peace Education workshops in schools.

“It’s a chance to be educated on more things perhaps most people don’t know about […] learned lots of new things’’
– Year 12 Student, Chase Grammar, Staffordshire.
‘I thoroughly enjoyed it… very interactive and I learnt a lot about nuclear weapons in regards to global politics… It was a great experience’
– Year 13 Politics student, Westminster Kingsway College

Below is a summary of the feedback received from students, teachers, and trainee teachers.

Feedback forms

At the end of each school session, we ask students and teachers to fill in a short questionnaire about their experience. It has helped us promote the work of CNDPE on our social media, and trainee teachers had a chance to share their feedback with us, join our termly mailing list and access our teaching resources.

The student and trainee teacher feedback forms ask participants to rate their session and answer a few open-ended questions. In particular, we ask students to specify what they enjoyed about the session, identify one thing they learnt, and suggest how the session could be improved. We also ask the teachers who supervise groups to tell us if they thought what we did was relevant to the school curriculum.

Students taking part in a CND Peace Education session.
Year 10 students take part in our Under Pressure workshop at Hall Mead School, Upminster.

 

School Sessions

Overall, we collected 1,376 responses from students who attended one of our main workshops.

The feedback we collected shows that the Peace Education sessions are not only enjoyed by students (88% of them rated them ‘good’ or ‘extremely good’), but also have a high educational value. For example, in response to ‘Name one thing you learned?’ 13% of students surveyed would give the exact number of nuclear states,  the amount of nuclear weapons in the world, followed by more general responses about the history of the Cold War and the WWII (around 5% students wished to learn more about the Cold War and the war more broadly). Among younger pupils, 43% named ‘making paper cranes/swans’ as the thing they enjoyed most about the session. Only 1.1% of all students surveyed stated that they have learnt ‘nothing’ from the session.

Student holds up their paper crane during a Sadako's Cranes for Peace workshop.
Our peace crane-making activity is consistently a hit with students.
‘I enjoyed it when we had to make our own ‘peace’ signs and learned about them… I thought it was fun and entertaining and we got a chance to make origami cranes.’
– Year 6 student, Rockliffe Manor School (London).

 

Reassuringly, almost a fifth of the students would not change anything about our workshop, and pupils are even willing to spend more time participating in our session (7% wished it was longer) – almost 90% would like us to come back to give another talk!

Teacher evaluation

A vast majority of over 100 teachers polled would rate the session ‘Good’ or ‘Extremely good’ and 98% would recommend it to their colleagues. The sessions have generally been rated ‘Extremely good’ for being suitable for the age group (73%), engaging (72%) and beneficial (61%) to students. Most teachers were also happy with how the workshops fit with their curriculum – confirming that what we do here in CND PeaceEd is relevant across various disciplines and bridges any gaps in the curriculum.

‘The subject… made them think about the world, our history and responsibility. The facilitator was friendly and engaging and the use of film and crafts was very nice’
– Teacher, George Tomlinson Primary School, Leytonstone.

 

‘Really engaging content which allowed students to ask questions’
– Teacher, Chesham Grammar School.

 

A vast majority of over 100 teachers polled would rate the session ‘Good’ or ‘Extremely good’.

 

Trainee Teachers

A majority of our adult students workshops were very well received with 64% of our sessions rated ‘extremely good’ and a further 35% ‘good’ by their participants. Students across sessions rated our training highly on its engagement with the topic and interactivity of tasks (mentioned in over a third of all responses).

‘I found the whole session incredibly interesting, especially how peace education can be applied cross curricula or as subject specific activities’
– trainee teacher, UCL Institute of Education

 

Students at Worcester University proudly show off their peace cranes
We model a range of activities with trainee teachers, from mock trials for older years to peace crane making for younger students.

 

Based on the feedback, we are confident that our training will benefit future teachers and their students:

  • 1 in 9 trainee teachers express intentions to use our training and activities to debate controversial topics
  • 1 in 10 stated that they will take away our mock trial exercise to use in practice
  • 14% would use origami to teach children about peace
‘[I will take away] the ability to share opinions in an open, honest and safe manner’
trainee Science teacher, University of Southampton

 

‘I really enjoyed the group discussions [and] think it is super useful for trainee teachers to actually understand practical ways of tackling these subjects’
– trainee English teacher, University of Bristol

 

What’s next?  

In the last 6 months we have incorporated emerging topics in global affairs such as US/North Korea relations and the Iranian nuclear deal debate into our school sessions, so they reflect what’s going on in nuclear politics right now. We have also been working on an exciting new teaching pack designed to explore the link between nuclear weapons and social justice issues of race and gender. You can access a preview of it here, and pre-order it via our website.

As we celebrate here at CND Peace Education, we very much look forward to what the new academic year will bring. Remember to keep in touch, and if you’d like to book a free CND Peace Education in your school, college, university or other educational institution, you can do so via our website.