Oral History Project at Woodside High

Tottenham Then and Now: Oral History Project at Woodside High, White Hart Lane

This summer term students in Year 9 were involved in an exciting Oral History pilot project.  Students who were intending to do History GCSE met with local older residents to explore Tottenham then and now linking to the historical theme of Change and Continuity. Generation Exchange (external link), a local charity working with schools on intergenerational projects, invited a number of older people from the local Tottenham area to become involved in the project based at Woodside High in White Hart Lane. 

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Residents were interviewed by Year 9 students about change and continuity in Tottenham

Many of the residents are volunteers with Generation Exchange and others were involved in the North Tottenham Heritage Champions Initiative run by Haringey Council.  Claire Frost, Co-ordinator at Generation Exchange, and Karen Greenwood, one of the Trustees, participated in the oral history training offered by the Heritage Champions Initiative. This training helped to shape the pilot project which was developed with the school. 

The project started with an afternoon meeting between the students and the older people and was then followed up by two sessions where the students and older people together explored what Tottenham had been like and how it had changed.  The interviews by the students with the older people were recorded and many of the older people brought in photos and cuttings to illustrate what Tottenham had been like and their own personal and family connection with the area.

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Students interview a Heritage Champion

Evaluation of the project was very positive with both students and the older people wanting to take part in more initiatives like this. Suggestions for the future included holding more sessions allowing more conversations between young and old, focussing on more defined topic themes, giving students time to practice interview techniques and giving older people time to prepare for the themes in order to enable them to find more information to bring with them.

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A member of the public views the exhibition at Woodside High

Student-produced projects from the pilot were exhibited at the Summer Showcase at the school on 13th July.

Karen Greenwood

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