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Platform - Connecting classrooms to local rail

Guest blog by Emilie Dawson, Learning Development Manager at Platform Rail.

As the education officers for Gloucestershire Community Rail Partnership, alongside four other partnerships, the Platform team strive to connect classrooms to local rail through workshops, train-trips, and curriculum-linked resources.

With its glorious countryside, rich history, and quaint combination of urban and rural locations, Gloucestershire is a perfect county for inspiring classroom resources, often posing the dilemma as to which “part” to pick. For example, earlier this year, the team used photographs of the county at different times of the year as writing stimuli in their Key Stage Three English resource – Seasons of Love. The lesson itself focuses on using rhetorical devices to create a persuasive argument as to which season is the best. Whilst a writing toolkit is provided for support, it’s the Gloucestershire photograph pack that really brings this lesson to life. Featuring Cheltenham Lido bathed in summer sun, the Lavender Fields at Broadway in spring, Westonbirt Arboretum in its autumnal glory, and Bourton on the Water white with snow. The photograph pack provides a range of writing inspiration for students, whilst displaying some of the best of the county.

Another lesson inspired by Gloucestershire is the Key Stage 2 Humanities resource - A Town in A Million. This lesson links with the national curriculum’s objective of studying a local place for historical purposes, whilst unravelling the history of the Stroud valleys. Physical geography weaves its way into this lesson (which focuses on how the wool industry changed Stroud) and students use map skills and source analysis to unpick the story of the mills in the town.

Gloucestershire pops up in a number of other resources, such as SATs… But Make it Trains – a Key Stage 2 Literacy resource that uses local locations in an exam-style paper, and Putting on a Front – which uses Gloucester Cathedral and Train Station to add some excitement to fronted adverbials.

Most recently, Platform have created a Key Stage 2 History and Geography resource that strives to consolidate and extend students’ chronological knowledge by learning about the history of Gloucester, from the prehistoric age right up to modern day. The lesson – created by Imogen Sackett, Senior Learning Development Officer for the team – highlights 32 significant events that have happened in Gloucester through time, and asks students to turn their classroom into a giant timeline by putting the events in order.

The timeline is then used as the basis for further learning activities, including ones that have a geographical focus as well as a historical one. It encourages students in Gloucestershire to further develop their local knowledge: did you know, for example, that William the Conqueror visited Gloucester? Or that horse-drawn trams were once replaced by electric trams?

The lesson requires students to get up, move around, place their cards in order, and work together to create something that is relevant to them – their history, their town.

Imogen Sackett – who leads on resources for Platform – said,

“As someone with experience in teaching Geography, it is a joy to be able to create high-quality, area-specific resources that can be used in schools across our areas. There is nothing more exciting than heading out, by train, to explore the different places on our lines and then spending time using this local knowledge to create a fun, curriculum-linked resource.”

Emilie Dawson – Learning Development Manager for Platform – adds,

“Gloucestershire poses a lovely problem for us; there are just too many areas that we want to put into a resource! We have plans for lots of new local resources in the coming academic year, and we can’t wait to share them.”

Find out more at

If you are a Gloucestershire school and are interested in support from the team please contact

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