The Oak: A Collective Member’s Report on Working with Pupils on an Award-Winning School History Magazine

by | Dec 1, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

This is a guest blog entry of Georgina Watson, a final-year PhD student at Manchester working on early modern Mediterranean commercial, military and religious interaction between Tuscany and the Ottoman Empire. In focusing on various members of the Tuscan Order of Saint Stephen, her thesis concentrates on the political and religious power held by the Order’s Grand Master, Cosimo I de Medici, the Papacy and the Ottoman Sultanate of the late sixteenth century. As a member of The Bodies, Emotions and Material Culture Collective, Georgina is reports about her experiences of working on history outreach and engagement activities at Oakhill School.


From September 2022, I have been working with the pupils of Oakhill School in Whalley, Lancashire, to produce a historically focused magazine – The Oak. As a pupil-led initiative, The Oak was celebrated by the History Association at the Young Historian Awards in 2021. The pupils’ efforts even secured Oakhill the title of ‘Best School History Magazine’. This is no small feat, and the History Club hopes to achieve the same success with this year’s editions.

Over the last weeks, I have seen the pupils practice and enhance their ability to analyse, argue and reference their work. These can be difficult tasks for even the most practised historians. It has been a joy to see how each pupil has taken on the challenge of developing a research question and supporting their journey of discovery.  

George Meadows (Year 10) says that “The Oak allows us to show our passion for history.” Karen Pugh, Head of History at Oakhill, shares a similar opinion on the student’s progress this term. “Pupils have loved their weekly meetings with Georgina – her enthusiasm for History has been infectious, inspiring pupils to delve deeper into their research topics. We are extremely grateful for her support and time and look forward to more exciting history projects in the future.”

The current Winter Edition of the magazine highlights various topics in multiple formats. From traditional research articles to transcribed interviews, there are fascinating stories for everyone to enjoy. The current edition features the history of Balmoral Castle, Classical Studies and contemporary conflicts, the History of Fashion, Aztec Culture and a paleontological dive into the history of Crinoids. 

In the new year, the History Club will take on its next challenge and participate in the National Archives ‘Local History Stories Competition.’ The grand prize is an all-expenses-paid afternoon at The National Archives and a goodie bag for each pupil to take away. The competition will push the pupils of Oakhill to engage with material they haven’t used before… census data! At the university level, we know how vital census data is when analysing the past to aid our future investigations. We also know how confusing it can be at the beginning. At present, the pupils are starting to research for the competition and will have to fulfil the following criteria:  

–      Good evidence of a range of sources being used;

–      Quality of exposition;

–      An engaging story that can be easily shared with audiences;

–      A link to the 1920s.


I know that each member of the History Club will write a story that captures the imagination and shows the importance of local history. The magazine has allowed the pupils of Oakhill School to share their interests and practice the skills necessary to become the next generation of historians. I can’t wait to see their progress.