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VE Day

At 3pm on 8 May 1945, Winston Churchill broadcast to the nation that the war in Europe was over. All over the country, men, women and children shared in the celebrations, with spontaneous street parties, picnics and bonfires; huge crowds gathered in central London, bells rang out across the country, and planes flew the victory roll in the skies.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of VE Day, so the whole country will come together at 3pm on 8 May for a 2 minute silence to reflect on the sacrifices made, not just by those in the Armed Forces, but by civilians such as Land Girls and those in Reserved Occupations.

Throughout the United Kingdom, there will be three days of celebrations ranging from a parade and a Service of Thanksgiving, to street parties around the UK and a star-studded concert in central London. More details about these plans can be found at

Schools will also want to celebrate and commemorate the day, and many will already be making their own plans to suit their pupils and their local area. For ideas about how to celebrate VE Day 70 in your school, please see the links below:

What are your plans to celebrate VE Day? Tweet us @educationgovuk using the hashtag #VEDay70

  • Castle Rock High School in Coalville, Leicestershire is holding an afternoon tea for students and their families on 7 May. There will be WW2 inspired music and dance performances and commemorative food cooked and served by the students. The school will also be teaching 1940 style lessons and holding a 2 minutes silence at 3pm on 8 May. Throughout the week each pupil will also be making a paper 'dove of peace' on which they will write a commemorative message – these doves, over 500, will then be suspended in the school's atrium as a tribute to those who lost their lives during WW2.
  • Maddison O'Beirne, a year 6 teacher from Christ Church C of E Primary School, Birmingham, has blogged about how she commemorated VE Day with her class – read her ideas here.
  • How did schools celebrate in 1945? This fascinating entry from the log book kept by the headteacher of Woodchurch CE Primary School in Upton, Wirral provides some ideas – a service of thanksgiving, songs and music, and flying the flag.

VE Day in the national curriculum

The Second World War is a vital element of the national curriculum, and schools' celebrations can be used to support the history curriculum for all ages.

Perhaps the most obvious link is to key stage 3 (age 11-14) when pupils undertake focused study on, for example, the wartime leadership of Winston Churchill, as part of the 'Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day' element of the programme of study.

However, it also fits neatly with the history curriculum for primary pupils, which includes teaching about events that are significant nationally or globally, including events commemorated through festivals and anniversaries; and about significant turning points in British history.

Workload Challenge

The average English teacher works nearly 50 hours a week, but too much of that time is taken up with unnecessary paperwork and unproductive tasks.

On 22 October 2014 we launched the Workload Challenge. We asked you to tell us about what helps you to manage your workload, what you think wastes your time, and what the government, schools and others should be doing to reduce unnecessary and unproductive workload. Read the article Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, wrote for the TES to introduce the challenge.

43,855 responses to the survey were logged by Survey Monkey, 20,394 teachers provided substantive answers to the three key survey questions, which generated over 57,000 separate answers, and we also received over 250 emails. We read all the responses and in February 2015 we published a programme of action. Read the article Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, wrote for the TES to outline the next steps.

Nicky Morgan outlines her plans to tackle teacher workload

Find out more

Read the full government response to the workload challenge here.

Read the analysis report.

Read the departmental protocol which details our commitment to give schools much more notice of significant changes.

Ofsted has published clarification for schools about inspection – read it here.

Find out about other people's experiences and ideas to reduce unnecessary workload:

Michael Tidd, deputy headteacher of a primary and nursery school in Nottinghamshire thinks the aims of marking and feedback policies need to be more explicit.

Michael Ribton, principal at Burlington Danes Academy, explains how he and his senior management team are helping to reduce unnecessary workload for teachers at the school.

Your suggestions

Here are some of the ideas you put forward:

  • 'Since 2010 our school has had PPA time as a year group. This is really useful as we can then share ideas.'
  • 'I find the detail expected in planning daily lessons, as well as medium term planning and evaluations of those lessons unnecessary. Although I understand that planning is a vital part of teaching, with experience I feel that many teachers can deliver good and even outstanding education without needing to write down exactly how they will achieve this. It is also far too demanding to record weekly planning and "hand it in" a week in advance.'
  • 'Develop a system that automatically reads register input and e-mails all students who are absent from timetabled lessons. The same system automatically generates an e-mail to the relevant teaching staff and a letter to each student's home address asking them to contact their tutor in a given time frame.'
  • 'Teachers need to be taken away from unnecessary paper work that reduces time to plan good lessons. These include analysing data such as exam results and reporting data that frankly could be completed by an office worker behind a desk.'
  • 'Marking - literacy and maths should be marked in depth but other subjects could be checked over quickly rather than marked in depth. We use a highlighting system to avoid writing excessive comments - the best places in the child's work are highlighted in green and the areas for improvement are highlighted in yellow with a short comment explaining how to do it.'
  • 'Ensure lessons are more student-centered - student helpers / student TAs / student behaviour monitors etc. Use the TES and pre-made resources to speed up planning / build in as much peer assessment as possible.'
  • 'Our head trusts our teaching and planning. She does not require us to show her our planning, which was not the case at my previous school. She is purely interested in progress which I agree with.'
  • 'Inset days to be devoted to sensible things like how to use excel and record data. Ensure IT systems are working properly. Last year I spent, on one occasion, six hours repeatedly entering data for year 11 GCSE only to be told that there was a fault with the system and it was not storing.'

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