Ipswich’s Wolsey 550 project has found a brand-new way to spark interest in the town’s heritage among young people by commissioning a scheme enabling primary school pupils to create their own digital, virtual version of Ipswich at the time of Cardinal Wolsey.
So far 140 pupils have been signed up for the sessions with another eight sessions for 15 pupils in each available for schools to book over the current term.
The initiative was the brainchild of Ipswich-based BAFTA Mentor award winner and founder of Creative Computing Club Matthew Applegate.
Hannah Houghton, the Wolsey 550 Education Co-ordinator and an experienced history teacher used her expertise to work with Matthew to design and fund the sessions which will be offered to schools free of charge using a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Students work on a flat digital map of Ipswich based on 15th century street patterns to build their own digital Tudor community using virtual materials in keeping with the period.
The Wolsey 550 project’s Hannah Houghton said: “We started introducing primary school pupils to the achievements of Cardinal Wolsey last year with a series of themed assemblies, many featuring our very own Cardinal Wolsey, author and reenactor Phil Roberts. However, we wanted to find something that would engage children more deeply – particularly those students with SEND and SEMH needs – and the concept of sessions to reimagine how Ipswich looked in Wolsey’s time was born.”
Students from Cliff Lane Primary who are supported by the school’s SEND team were one of the first groups to take part at the Creative Computing Club on London Road. They thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Blake, aged eight, commented: “We’ve made a dungeon. I can’t wait to carry on building at school – that would be amazing!”
Cliff Lane’s SENCO Holly Booth also remarked on the accessibility of the workshop: “This session was perfect for children from Year 4 onwards- especially those with ASD. They’ve shown brilliant teamwork and resilience. Some students haven’t played this type of game before and it’s a different environment for them, but they’ve loved it and have learned new skills- it’s been a real success.”
Hannah Houghton added: “Cardinal Wolsey was an avid believer in the power of education and for someone born 550 years ago he had very modern ideas about how pupils should learn. He said that study should seem like amusement, not toil and I truly believe that he would have approved of how our digital building sessions are helping pupils to learn more about how Ipswich looked in his day.”
Each workshop can be attended by up to 15 students and is suitable for students with SEND and SEMH needs. There are still spaces available for this term for primary school pupils studying in schools in the borough of Ipswich. Teachers wishing to know more can find details here