The 2022 winners of the award were Carolyn Hadley and Sian Hunt, with their two Year 5 classes, from Henley Green Primary School, Coventry. Their moving film described the children’s work based on “Owen and the Soldier” by Lisa Thompson, published by Barrington Stoke. The book was one of the 7-10+ books shortlisted for the 2021 UKLA Book Award.
The story, set in the present day, covers Owen’s complex feelings about the local council’s plan to remove a WW1 memorial – the Stone Soldier of the title – because it has fallen into disrepair. The teachers chose this book as their first cross-curricular topic as the children returned to school after the disruptions of lockdown. The study enabled them to study aspects of World War 1, consider the role of special places and monuments in people’s lives and to explore the themes of the book through their own writing, debate and artwork . The cross-curricular approach enabled the teachers to integrate the children’s “skills and adventures” as they explored the characters in the book and reflected on their own ability to express their thoughts and feelings. As Carolyn Hadley says, in the commentary on the film submitted for the award:
“The children wrote from the heart, expressed themselves emotionally and artistically and had great fun in the process”.
As part of their prize, Carolyn and Sian were able to attend the UKLA International Conference in June 2022, where they presented their work in an “expert panel” session and received their award at the Gala Dinner. They also won a year’s school membership to UKLA, a hamper of books for each of their class libraries and a limited edition Chris Wormell print with the Our Class Loves This Book logo. In November, the author Lisa Thompson will visit the school so that the children, now in Year 6, will have the opportunity to talk to her about her writing.