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Pilot captain Albert Ball was probably the most famous former pupil of Trent College. The First World War hero was only 21 when he died in 1917, in a crash following a dogfight with German planes over France. But during his brief career, the Royal Flying Corps pilot shot down more than 40 enemy aircrafts and was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. His story and those of 514 former Trent College scholars who enlisted, were under the spotlight when present day pupils took part in a week-long study into the First World War and its impact.
A total of 96 former pupils were killed in action but they are not forgotten as their names are engraved on the wooden memorial around the chapel alter at Trent College. There were also 60 Old Tridents (the name given to former pupils of Trent), who were mentioned in dispatches during the war, an official report written by a superior officer and sent to the command, in which is described the soldier’s gallant or meritorious action in the face of the enemy. As a result, 32 were awarded the Military Cross, 8 a Distinguished Service Order and 3 the Croix de Guerre, while Captain Ball also received the Croix de Chevalier Legion d’Honneur, Russian Order of St George and DSO two bars.
Here at Trent our archives hold a variety of documents dating back to the First World War and detail battles our Old Tridents fought in, letters they wrote and information about Wortley House, which was set up as an auxiliary hospital during 1914 to 1919.
During World War One Week at Trent pupils took part in a wide variety of activities, all relating back to World War One. Each pupil designed a brick to form a commemorative cardboard wall – which looked fantastic.
In biology pupils looked at pests found in the trenches, smoking, medical services and the Spanish Flu pandemic. In English, they used war poetry and letters as the inspiration for some writing, from a soldier’s perspective with an opportunity to take part in a national project by the British Library.
Steven Henderson, Director of Teaching and Learning here at Trent – explains the importance of cross-curricular projects, such as the WW1 week here at Trent.
“Schools might once have been places where subject-specific facts were simply drilled into students, but that is not enough for the twenty-first century students of Trent College. A week of lessons focused on World War I to commemorate the centenary of the start of the Great War. Cross-curricular work is not unusual at Trent and it really helps to build resilient, independent learners.
As part of their normal timetable, pupils as young as Year 7 at Trent had lessons specifically focused on cross-curricular skills. The resulting end of year project allows pupils to show a range of imagination, creativity and application which is very difficult to achieve within the confines of a single subject. Pupils followed their own passions to decide the focus of their project. Topics typically covered anything from working models of a canal lock system, through videos or musical compositions to rocket design and launch.
The Extended Project Qualification is something our Sixth Formers can achieve alongside their A-levels. University admissions tutors have praised the qualification for allowing students to demonstrate their analytical, critical thinking and independent research skills: all things that can make the difference when it comes to receiving an offer of a university place.”