Heritage Schools Case Study: What makes a housing estate special?

Summary: KS2 students used a social-history photographic collection to learn more about their local heritage. They also undertook an oral history project.

Where: Goddard Park School, Swindon

Who: Year 4 students

Video not working due to cookies settings or click here to watch on YouTube


Intended Outcomes

  • Children develop a sense of pride in where they live
  • Children understand their local heritage and how it relates to a national story
  • Children understand what a photographic archive is & how it could be used
  • Children use primary sources of evidence
  • Children devise historically valid questions (oral history)
  • Children select and organise relevant historical information
  • Children explore changes in post-war Britain
  • Children look at their own identity within a local case study

What we did

  • Children investigated historical photographs and thought about “Why are photos a good historical source? What do you know/can you infer from a photograph?”
  • Children looked at photographs of houses from their estate and found out more about the company, John Laing plc., that built them. Including watching a film about how they were built.
  • Children were asked them to imagine you could interview someone that built these houses. What would you ask them? And how do we ask good questions?
  • Children interviewed former Laing employees. Their questions included: “was it tiring?” “what did you do for shelter when it rained?” “what was your favourite thing you built?” “did you ever want to quit?”
  • Children and the Laing employees went to see the Easiform houses from the archive photos, so they could compare the past with the present. Many were able to engage in a more informal way with the former Laing employees as we walked and talked. They also got to see the houses they may live in/walk past every day in a new way, through a historical lens.
  • We produced a short film showing their day.


  • We found out after the date had been set for the interviews that we only had the morning with the students. It felt a bit rushed with the former Laing employees who I think would have relaxed with more time.
  • Some children got a bit restless having to be very quiet during filming and the film was at risk of being lots of talking from the Former Laing Employees not the students.
  • We were unable to complete the post-workshop assessment on the day, but the teacher was able to do this later. Luckily the students were able to remember the day and provide feedback with meaning.
  • We didn’t have time to talk about the whole collection, instead focusing on Easiform housing, perhaps students & the teacher missed an opportunity to see other images/understand the breadth of the collection.


  • The workshop with the images on the first day was great; the students engaged with the Archive and enjoyed seeing their own community in another way.
  • The children wrote really thoughtful questions for the former Laing employees.
  • With the support of the John Laing Charitable Trust we were able to find, vet and then support the Former Laing employees.
  • The walk to the houses was really great and the students used the images to compare the past to the present. This was also a nice relaxed way for the former Laing employees to engage informally with the children.

Next steps/extension activities