Playground Protesters Bring History to Life

As part of a nationwide Heritage Schools campaign, children from three Manchester primary schools took to the streets to celebrate 100 years since women in Britain were given the vote. Hundreds of pupils have been learning about the suffrage movement in the region and exciting exhibitions are being planned to celebrate their work.

Watch the playground protests on ITV's Granada Reports

Celebrating the centenary

Tuesday 6 February 2018 marked 100 years since the passing of the Representation of the People Act, which granted (some) women the right to vote in national elections for the first time. To mark this momentous event, Historic England’s Heritage Schools Programme is encouraging schools across the country to explore the suffrage movement in their region, investigating the contribution of key people and the impact on places in their area.

How are Heritage Schools marking the occasion?

Historic England's Heritage Schools in Manchester and Oldham are leading the way in remembering the importance of the Representation of the People Act.

Teachers from 18 primary and secondary schools have attended workshops. They were given special access to archive materials and documents to develop their knowledge of the suffrage movement in the region, and explore the key role that local women and men played in the campaign for women’s rights.

Back in the classroom, students have carried out a whole range of projects - from banner and badge making to speech writing and delivery.

Oldham teachers examining archive materials at a Suffrage Workshop at Gallery Oldham.
Oldham teachers examining primary sources at a Heritage Schools suffrage workshop at Gallery Oldham © Historic England

For three primary schools in Manchester - Heald Place, St James’ (Rusholme) and Claremont Primary School - the highlight of their projects was the recreation of a suffrage march in their local park.

Year 5 and 6 pupils from each school marched to Platt Fields Park in Rusholme. Chanting well known suffrage slogans such as “Deeds not words!” and with banners and sashes, they certainly caught the attention of a number of passers-by! 

At the park they held a rally in which they read their own speeches and heard from Elaine De Fries of Manchester’s Pankhurst Centre, in character as Emmeline Pankhurst herself.

Reflecting on the event, Elaine said:

“The children are really interested. They totally believe that women should be equal. They’ve learnt about their heritage in Manchester and the history of the vote. I think it’s been an amazing way to teach history and to talk about female empowerment”

Watch the playground protests on ITV Granada Reports

Suffrage exhibitions coming soon

Exciting exhibitions in Manchester’s Central Library and Gallery Oldham will showcase the work of local primary and secondary school pupils who have explored their areas’ pioneering role in the campaign for suffrage a hundred years ago.

Manchester Central Library, 4 April - 30 June

The exhibition will focus on key figures such as the Pankhursts and Margaret Ashton, and the many historic sites linked to the suffrage movement in Manchester. It will also feature in the Greater Manchester Histories Festival taking place in June.

Gallery Oldham, 7 June - 21 July

The exhibition will focus on key figures such as Annie Kenney and Marjory Lees, and the many historic sites linked to the suffrage movement in Oldham.

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