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April 21, 2015

BBC: Copy of Magna Carta for every UK primary school

By Judith Burns, Education reporter
21st April, 2015.
Click here to read the original article.

Every primary school in the UK is to be sent a copy of Magna Carta to help pupils learn how the document forms the basis of many modern freedoms.

The aim is to explain the legacy of Magna Carta, as the 800th anniversary nears of its sealing by King John.

The charter is considered a cornerstone of the British constitution.

This is an “epic narrative that continues to shape our world”, said Sir Robert Worcester, chairman of the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee.

As well as a copy of the document, the schools will receive two young person’s guides to Magna Carta, explaining its significance to current political events.

These are a timeline wall-chart and a tabloid-style newspaper called the Magna Carta Chronicle, which together set out the history of the past 800 years in “the fight for freedom and rights”.

The initiative, led by the Magna Carta Trust and funded by charitable donations to the 800th Anniversary Committee, is part of ongoing celebrations of the document.

Magna Carta was sealed by King John on 15 June 1215, forced by a group of rebellious barons.

It was the first formal document to limit the power of the King, stating that a King had to follow the laws of the land and guaranteeing the rights of individuals.

It laid the foundations of trial by jury and of Parliament.

Sir Robert said the initiative would give young people the chance to learn more about the history and significance of Magna Carta.

“The fight for freedom and rights and the rule of law is a global story but one that should be extra special to everyone living in the UK, since its origins and dramas – from the freedom to choose our rulers and religion, to equality of opportunity and the right to live without fear of unlawful imprisonment – are so inextricably linked to the history of Britain itself,” he said.

“All these, and many other freedoms, are charted in this unique young person’s guide in a highly accessible and visually stunning style which all began when the will of the King was first challenged by 25 barons in the water meadow at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.”

Christopher Lloyd of publishers What on Earth? designed and wrote the guides in collaboration with illustrator Andy Forshaw.

The guides link Magna Carta with modern struggles for freedoms and rights, for example Malala Yousafzai’s campaign for the right of girls across the globe to an education.

Mr Lloyd said the aim had been to connect “the fragment of history of the signing of Magna Carta on a piece of parchment and put it into the context of an 800-year story”.

He said he wanted the timeline to be like the thread of a necklace with historic moments, which saw modern liberties and freedoms gradually developed over 800 years, like beads on the thread.

The pack will be sent out to all the UK’s 21,000 state primary schools later in April.

The publishers have also provided a series of free online lesson plans and activities.

Click here for more information about the Magna Carta Chronicle.



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