Witchford Village College is excited to be supporting The Cambridgeshire Village Colleges Heritage Project delivered by Viva Arts and Community Group and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The community project is gathering personal stories from village colleges across the county. It will combine oral history and research with travelling exhibitions, film and learning resources.
Last year WVC had an excellent response to a plea for ex-students and people with connections to the college from the 1950s to contact them. This week we are hearing some of theirstories and finding out how WVC and the village college system helped them. A small group of Year 9 and 10 students have been trained in the use of recording equipment, editing & transcribing software & given instruction about interview techniques. They are carrying out, recording and editing the interviews. The former RAF base at Witchford is the site for WVC, which opened in 1951 utilising the RAF Nissen Huts.
The Village College is an institution unique to Cambridgeshire but the model has inspired educators worldwide. It was established by education visionary Henry Morris, Cambridgeshire’s Chief Education Officer for three decades from 1922, and was revolutionary. It was conceived to provide education for 11 to 16 year olds by day and educational and leisure facilities to adults at other times, thus serving the whole community. “For many decades, tens of thousands of local people have benefitted from this county’s unique village college system,” says Rachael Polsom, Project Manager. “This is the first project to celebrate the county-wide heritage of the village colleges and we look forward to collecting people’s first-hand village college stories.”
As well as receiving funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Viva have the full support of the Henry Morris Memorial Trust who have generously contributed £5000 toward the project costs as well as full access to their archive.
With the assistance of adult volunteers, the project has already recorded oral histories from ten village colleges. WVC are very proud of their heritage and it has been a great experience for our students to be involved in this community project. They have most enjoyed carrying out the interviews and especially finding out first-hand how different the college was then to now.
The project will culminate with Viva setting up a website giving access to photos and stories from our village colleges. There will also be a travelling exhibition celebrating our unique county village college heritage.