If you’re coming here from the bulletin, the Powerpoint can be downloaded here.
This week’s theme is “evacuees”, a common topic in connection with The Second World War or books such as, “Goodnight, Mr. Tom”. 2.5 million children were evacuated from major cities into the countryside to be safer from the expected bombing. As with other historical topics, it makes sense to start with the historic and then look for connections to present day situations, in this case the issue of unaccompanied child refugees.
It was never made compulsory for parents to send their children away, and only 47% of eligible children were evacuated. It was eventually made compulsory for those in the countryside that had space to accept evacuees, whether they had any interest in raising children or not. The government paid keep for the children.
A Powerpoint presentation, downloadable by clicking here, has a few pictures to set the scene. Get the children to notice details and draw inferences from them (it’s a good opportunity to introduce the thinking vocabulary of “infer” and “inference”).
“He’s carrying a toy spade.”
“What can you infer from that?”
“Maybe he’s been told he’s going to the seaside.”
Once you’ve established the context using the first three pictures, set up for “Starting Positions”. Get the children in two rows, facing one another, and allocate a point of view for each side to argue. The questions become more challenging, and at the same time you move from pairs to fours to eights.
In pairs – Would you accept an evacuee into your house? (A’s argue yes, B’s no)
In fours – Would you send your children away? (A’s argue no, B’s yes)
In eights – Should the government make it compulsory to accept children? (A’s argue yes, B’s no)
From Past to Present
Then you can show the final two slides, and explain the context of child refugees being sent abroad by families in war-torn or unstable countries. Some of these children may end up with relatives who have already reached the UK, some might be placed in foster care, similar to the situation of evacuees. You could either generate questions in response to images, or invite them to consider these obvious ones:
Is it right for parents to send their children away in such a situation?
Should governments in countries that are at peace take them in?
An important philosophical issue that is raised is “What do we owe to each other?” – How far do our obligations to other people extend? How does that vary when we are talking about members of our family, or our nation, or wider humanity?