Doing a condition survey with your class - Guidance for teachers

Spurred on by the Centenary of the First World War the public are being called upon to help record the condition of our war memorials. There are around 100,000 war memorials in the UK. Information about their condition is being recorded on the War Memorials Online website, where anyone can upload information and photographs about any war memorial.

Find out how your class can help with our E-Learning module, Caring for our War Memorials, which gives you everything you'll need to carry out a condition survey of your nearest memorial with your class. You can also download our Guidance for Teachers PDF (below) includes ready to use student worksheets and an accompanying PowerPoint (below). Even more resources to help pupils understand remembrance are available from War Memorials Trust.

Children doing a Condition Survey of a war memorial
Children doing a Condition Survey of a war memorial © Historic England

Step 1: Find your nearest war memorial

Step 2: Plan your visit

To help pupils get the most out of the visit split the class into 4 groups – each of which has a special task and their own recording sheet to complete (from the Guidance for teachers resource). Each of the groups is named after a specific job title used by heritage professionals, to allow pupils to follow the ethos of the ‘Mantle of the Expert’. The groups are:

  • Building Surveyors – Look at the condition of the writing (inscriptions) on the memorial
  • Conservators – Look at the condition of whatever materials (stone/brick/wood etc.) the memorial is built of
  • Landscape Surveyors – Look at the condition of the area immediately around the memorial
  • Photographers – Work with the other teams to decide what photographs to take to use as evidence about the condition of the memorial

Ensure you follow your own school’s procedures for creating a Risk Assessment and taking pupils out of the classroom. Ideally, each group should have one adult supervisor dedicated to helping them, who has been made familiar with the tasks and recording sheets for that group.

Step 3: Go on your visit and carry out the survey

  • Ensure that you have all the equipment mentioned on the recording sheets (cameras, pencils, clipboards etc.)
  • Allow each of the groups to fill in the information required on their recording sheets

Step 4: Upload your results to the web

  • Back in the classroom allow each group to report back to the whole class on their survey and give their part of the memorial (materials, inscriptions or surrounding area) a ‘condition level’ – Good, Fair, Poor or Very Bad
  • The ‘photographers’ provide photos as ‘evidence’ to support the condition reports
  • The whole class discuss the results of the surveys and reach a conclusion as to its overall condition, along with selecting the photos (max. 10) that provide the best evidence to support it
  • The information is uploaded (by either the teacher or pupils – but the teacher will need to Register) on War Memorials Online. Instructions for how to do this are available on the War Memorials Online website's FAQs page. The key thing to remember is to avoid duplicate records of the same memorial by checking to see if a record for your memorial already exists. If it does, it can be added to with your up to date information. If it does not, you can create a new record
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