An authentic air raid shelter, which is set to bring learning to life for hundreds of children, has been built at a progressive school in Coalpit Heath.

The Second World War Anderson Shelter will provide an immersive experience for pupils at The Manor C of E primary, with endless opportunities for cross-curricular lessons in the pipeline.

From drama and history, to English and even maths, the new facility will be used across year groups to inspire memorable and moving teaching.

Every child in the school created their own clay and paper poppies and rehearsed wartime songs to perform at a special opening ceremony on Thursday, ahead of Remembrance Day.

“The Anderson Shelter is totally cross-curricular and immersive because it takes you in all directions,” said Will Ferris, deputy head of the school.

“It’s so relevant and real. You could learn about what they were like from books or the internet, but how much better is it to have one of your own?”

“We’ll be using it to inspire writing – like diary entries or wartime poetry – and storytelling. It will be a role-play area where children will spend time thinking about what they can hear, see, smell. They’ll be able to imagine what it felt like in an air-raid and how this structure was going to protect us.”

With generous funding from Friends of Manor School (FOMS), the project began more than a year ago.
It started with volunteers during ‘Dads in School Day’ digging a hole in the school grounds, ready to build an underground shelter.

However, this plan was halted due to an unforeseen hiccup and it wasn’t until one of the dads discovered a genuine Anderson Shelter in a garden he was clearing that the dream seemed possible once more.

“The long-term goal is to grow some of our own food from there. We’d love it if people wanted to donate time and resources to build some raised beds so we can start planting vegetables to use in cookery lessons and sell to the local community,” Mr Ferris added.

“Year 5 are looking at conflict and rationing. In Year 4, history lessons are focused on food and they can look at periods of time when diets and tastes changed.”