AN AUTHENTIC air raid shelter, which is set to bring learning to life for hundreds of children, has been built at a school in Coalpit Heath.

The World War Two Anderson shelter will provide an immersive educational experience for pupils at The Manor C of E primary.

From drama and history, to English and maths, the new facility will be used across all year groups to inspire and engage.

Every child in the school created their own clay and paper poppies and rehearsed wartime songs to perform at a special opening ceremony on Thursday, just before Remembrance Day.

“The Anderson Shelter is totally cross-curricular and immersive because it takes you in all directions,” said Will Ferris, Deputy Head.

“It’s so relevant and real. You could learn about what they were like from books or the internet, but how much better is it to have one of your own?”

“We’ll be using it to inspire writing – like diary entries or wartime poetry – and storytelling. It will be a roleplay area where children will spend time thinking about what they can hear, see, smell.

"They’ll be able to imagine what it felt like in an air-raid and how this structure was going to protect us.

“It’s also amazing for subjects like design and technology. We can look at how it was built, how we could improve the design, why those methods were used.

"We’ll use maths to calculate the cost of building it, figure out the area, how many people can fit inside it, and more. It’s going to be a natural outdoor classroom.”

With generous funding from Friends of Manor School (FOMS), the project began more than a year ago.

It started with volunteers during ‘Dads in School Day’ digging a hole in the school grounds, ready to build an underground shelter.

However, this plan was halted due to an unforeseen hiccup and it wasn’t until one of the dads discovered a genuine Anderson shelter in a garden he was clearing that the idea came back to the fore.

“The foundations were laid and we finally got our Anderson shelter,” Mr Ferris said.

“The long-term goal is to grow some of our own food from there. We’d love it if people wanted to donate time and resources to build some raised beds so we can start planting vegetables to use in cookery lessons and sell to the local community.

“Year 5 are looking at conflict and rationing. In Year 4, history lessons are focused on food and they can look at periods of time when diets and tastes changed.”

Year 6 pupils have been eagerly anticipating the opening of the shelter ever since the idea first came up.

Bobby Hendy, 10, said: “The Anderson shelter started out as a massive hole in the ground.

"It was really interesting watching it being built. I wrote about bombs surrounding the people inside, and how it was cold and damp in there.

“It was an adventure, having problems with it, and then seeing it at the end. It was even better than I thought it could be.

“One of the best parts was seeing them build it. What I learned the most is that if you put your mind to something you can achieve it.

“Children in the years below us might not know what the Anderson shelter is for now, but they can’t wait to learn about it. It has sparked thought-provoking questions.”

And Abi Densley, 10, added: “We might be one of the only schools with an Anderson shelter.

 “When Mr Ferris started talking about World War Two we were a little bit bored, but everyone in our class is really creative and when we started talking about having our own Anderson shelter we all sat up and paid attention.”

To get in touch about volunteering at The Manor, email Mr Ferris at