Americans celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, the day that the Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence. In that document, we declared that our colonies were no longer part of Great Britain.
Farewell, Britain – you deal with us on our terms now!
Since that time, America has blossomed into The United States, stretching from the Atlantic ocean to the Pacific ocean. We are now allies with the United Kingdom and even refer to the alliance as the “Special relationship”. It is indeed unique for a former colony to become even bigger than its mother country, even equalling them in economic and military might.
The one question is: would it have all been possible without the Magna Carta?
June 15th, 2015 marked the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. The Great Charter was signed by King John to appease his rebellious barons in the midst of battle. Eight centuries later, its enduring legacy has transformed countries all over the world. It outlined the basic rights of man and established that no one was above the law, including the king. It heralded a major shift in the balance of power between the monarch and his people.
Celebrating the events this summer were the staff and students at the Magna Carta School. Below, their celebration of the Great Charter’s 800 years.
We began the Anniversary year with an invitation to visit Number 10 Downing Street to meet the Prime Minister and other government ministers. As the only school in the UK with the name Magna Carta, as well as being located in the heart of Runnymede, we had already caught the attention of ministers due to our work on Magna Carta. It was a fantastic opportunity for both students and teachers to be present at the official launch of the Anniversary year.
Our students and teachers have also been working with the National Archives and Egham Museum to help develop teaching resources on Magna Carta for all age groups in schools. While students and teachers attended the events at Runnymede on 15th June, others were guests of Discovery Education at the official launch of the National Assembly on Magna Carta, which our students had helped to create. We were also fortunate to be invited to the House of Lords to witness the launch of the online teaching resource first hand.
Our students have participated in a national project to draft a modern version of Magna Carta, working with the UK’s Supreme Court and Judge Neuberger. Our clauses can now be seen in this new document, which can be seen by students across the UK and USA.
Students within our Art and Textiles Departments have worked with a highly skilled team of artists to help produce the wonderful tapestries depicting the events of 1215, currently on display at Royal Holloway University.
We are thrilled that our Drama and Dance students played such an integral role in the events of 15th June and had the opportunity to meet the Duke of Cambridge and other guests.
Our school has been gripped by the spirit of the Anniversary and we have seen it as an opportunity to feature important aspects in both lessons and assemblies. We have a permanent reminder of our commitment to the Anniversary, with 25 shields, each measuring 1 metre in height, and depicting a modern interpretation of the emblems of the 25 Barons present at the sealing of Magna Carta, displayed along the front of our school.