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Summer 2024

Summer term learning

This term we will be writing about the story "The Iron Man" by Ted Hughes - working hard on accurate use of punctuation; especially speech punctuation and on writing a variety of interesting sentences. The we will plan and write our own story on a similar theme. 


We will be reading "The Outlaw Varjak Paw" by S F Said as we enjoyed the first book about this adventurous cat so much! We will also be reading a variety of stories, poems and non fiction and discussing them in our lessons. 


In maths we will still be working hard to master the recall of all of the times tables facts. We will also be adding; subtracting; working with fractions and decimals and thinking about symmetry in shapes.



In Mantle our Pop Up Shop “Sugar Rush” closed after successfully researching what kind of sweets might sell well in Tescos. After packing up the shop, we received a commission from  Redditch Borough Council to use a couple of their empty units on the high street. 


One of the empty units should sell merchandise which celebrates Redditch. It should be ready before the Redditch carnival so that visitors can buy something which reminds them why Redditch is great. It should also tell local people about the needle making history of their town. 


Within the letter from the council there were notes and photographs. It seems that people don’t know why there are giant needles in the town centre or that Redditch has the country’s only needle making museum. There were also lots of needle making mills in the town. We needed to find out more about the history of the place. 

We imagined that there may be a timeline of the history of needle making in the local museum and out of role we worked on sequencing the key events from the 1500s. 

We also used digimaps to explore Redditch now and in the 1890s. We followed the River Arrow to see where the needle making mills were. We found Washford Mills just down the road from us and now it is the site of Miller and Carter restaurant! One of our class has been inside and has seen the old water wheel which is still there. 

We used drama to attend a talk in Redditch library. The title of the talk was “I wouldn’t be here without Redditch needles” given by Simon Partridge. Unfortunately, there was no interest from local members of the public and we were the only people attending. Simon told us that he was worried these stories of needle making would be lost and we were also worried that the lack of interest could also mean our pop up shop would not attract customers. 

We heard how needles were being made in a place called Long Crendon near Oxford in the 1800s but they were poor quality and expensive compared to those made in Redditch. The industry was failing and so some of the workers decided to migrate to Redditch. 

After saying goodbye to their families and friends they set off on a difficult three day journey to Redditch

This wasn’t the only migration linked to needle making though. Later, the Kirby Beard company took some workers from Redditch to Long Crendon to teach people how to make good quality needles. However a few short years later the industry failed again as they didn’t have the best machines and coal was difficult to get. So 37 workers, wives and families moved back to Redditch. 


We learned that the census could tell us who had migrated and if they were I still living in Redditch 10 years later. Most stayed in Redditch. We found this fascinating!

But what jobs were needle makers actually doing? The 1861 census of the Headless across area of Redditch tells us men, women and children were needle makers and that they did jobs such as straightening, eyeing and pointing. We used text from a local history website along with drawings from a book written by a Redditch needle manufacturer to find out the details. 

We looked at a plan of the Avery needle works to see how some of the rooms in the factory were arranged and then used drama to represent these. 

We had read that the pointer’s job was the most dangerous and well paid. However, they wanted to be paid more money. One of our class represented a pointer and we used our imagination to voice why they might have wanted this. We all thought they deserved more money. 

However, at Forge Mill Museum they have a record of a meeting of all of the needle manufacturers which says they agreed not to pay the pointers any higher wages. In our drama work, the pointers decided to strike and it seemed that the other workers were in support of this…

However, the next day there were some new pointers willing to work in the needle making mill. The owner of Washford Mill was Henry Millward. We weren’t sure if he was a good boss or not. Using drama, we saw him walking around the factory talking to workers. He seemed polite and friendly and seemed to care for his workers - so why wouldn’t he pay the pointers more for doing a dangerous job? 

Some of the workers went to speak to him in his office.

Mr Millward was NOT happy to be asked for higher wages- especially after the meeting where all the manufacturers agreed not to pay more. “ If I pay you more, then I pay the rest less,” he said. He explained to other workers that a solution to the pointers’ problem had been offered, but they had refused it. What could he do to persuade them? It would be for the good of everyone…