Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers Notes

Resource created by Dr Williams' School Old Girls Association.

The aim of this resource is to show how the Dr Williams' School in Dolgellau (which had an important role in the early history of secondary education for girls in Wales), 'did its bit' during the First World War. It offers glimpses of the impact of the War in rural Wales and on one school community.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3/4 History: World War One
  • KS3/4 Citizenship: Dealing with conflict, types of conflict
  • KS3/4 Literacy: Persuasive texts; Reading critically

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of the role children played in the Great War
  • Understanding that all members of society were expected to play their part for the war effort
  • Skills in analysing and interpreting historical evidence

Discussion Ideas

  • Three little Belgian girls who were refugees were placed at Dr Williams' school in 1915. What might they have felt like starting at a new school in another country? Which other countries do refugees come from today and why do you think they decide to leave their homes? How do they decide where to go?
  • Read about the charity work done by students and teachers at the school during the First World War. Why do you think this work was so important to the school? How do you think the soldiers felt when they received the socks the girls had knitted? What charities does your school get involved in? How do you decide which charities to help?
  • Listen to the recording of 'Good-bye-ee' and discuss what you think the song is about. Are there any words in the song that you don't understand? Why do you think this song was so popular during the First World War? 

  • Listen to the audio clip of Eirian James (speaking the words of Myfanwy Williams from the July 1919 school magazine) describing a concert given by pupils at the hospital Caerynwch Red Cross auxiliary military hospital, illustrating the kind of entertainment DWS girls provided to war wounded patients. How might such entertainment differ nowadays from during the First World War (both in content and delivery)?

Activity Ideas

  • Make your own WW1 sandbags
    Read the instructions for making sandbags that were published in the British Journal of Nursing in 1915 (see Supporting Links in 'Resources') and follow the steps to create your own sandbags using hessian and string.

    If everyone in the class makes a bag, you can then test them out - fill each bag with sand and make a small 'pool' in your school playground or playing field by stacking bags on top of each other to form a circle, then fill it carefully with water. Make sure there is somewhere for the water to drain away if it leaks out!
  • Plan your own First World War charity
    Think about who you will aim to benefit, what you will do, how you will get other people to support your charity? Design a poster advertising the charity and encouraging people to get involved.
  • Create your own mini museum 
    Look at the WW1 themed museum exhibits from Dr Williams' School listed in the school magazine and decide on a theme for your own class museum objects.