Heritage project to share students stories of village colleges in Cambridgeshire

Heritage project to share students stories of village colleges in Cambridgeshire. Picture: JO GORDON

Heritage project to share students stories of village colleges in Cambridgeshire. Picture: JO GORDON

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A heritage project will bring together stories from village colleges across Cambridgeshire to create a film, website and learning resources.

Heritage project to share students stories of village colleges in Cambridgeshire. Picture: JO GORDONHeritage project to share students stories of village colleges in Cambridgeshire. Picture: JO GORDON

The Cambridgeshire Village Colleges Heritage Project, run by Viva Arts in Soham, will combine history and research with travelling exhibitions.

Stories will be collected from former students and local residents who have had a connection with the colleges in the county across the decades.

Students at Witchford Village College (WVC) are also supporting the project by speaking with students who attended in the 1950s.

A small group of Year 9 and 10 students were trained in the use of recording equipment, editing and transcribing software to carry out interviews.

The former RAF base at Witchford is now the site for WVC, which opened in 1951 utilising the RAF Nissen huts.

Jo Gordon, marketing manager at WVC, said: "We are very proud of their heritage and it has been a great experience for our students to be involved in this community project.

"They have most enjoyed carrying out the interviews and especially finding out first-hand how different the college was then to now."

The village college is an institution specific to Cambridgeshire but the model has inspired educators worldwide.

It was established by education visionary Henry Morris, Cambridgeshire's chief education officer for three decades from 1922.

The aim was to provide education for 11 to 16-year-olds by day and educational and leisure facilities to adults at other times - therefore serving the whole community.

"For many decades, tens of thousands of local people have benefitted from this county's unique village college system," said Rachael Polsom, heritage project manager.

"This is the first project to celebrate the county-wide heritage of the village colleges and we look forward to collecting people's first-hand village college stories."

As well as receiving funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Viva have the full support of the Henry Morris Memorial Trust who have contributed £5000 toward the project costs and access to their archive.

The project has already recorded oral histories from 10 village colleges with the help of volunteers.

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