Welsh Competition Organisers Celebrating 30 Years of Supporting Welsh Schools
Congratulations to the Welsh Heritage Schools Initiative (WHSI) as they celebrate 30 years of organising a national history competition. The charity’s aim is to encourage young people to take a greater interest in their “Cynefin”* and the story of Wales, and to share their heritage with others.
Over the last 30 years, inspired by their teachers, tens of thousands of pupils have been involved in projects exploring and researching the wealth and diversity of their local and Welsh heritage. Their enquiries often uncover little-known aspects of their local or national history, help to raise the profile of local heroes/heroines and pride in their culture and heritage. Judges are privileged to view exceptional high-quality projects on varying themes from coal, castles, war and legends to scientists, suffragettes and exploration of identity.
The 2022 WHSI winners were announced on 8 July at the initiative's 30th awards ceremony in St. Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff. The Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, Dawn Bowden, attended the ceremony to present some of the prizes. She said: “It is amazing to see that 3,000 children across Wales have been involved in this year’s competition. I hope that the experience has increased their knowledge of their heritage and will inspire them to find out more. History matters and we should encourage upcoming generations to explore, appreciate and conserve their heritage, as well as delight in the magnificent achievements from the past.”
Following another challenging year for schools, the WHSI Chair, Angharad Williams, thanked and congratulated pupils and teachers for their astounding achievements. She added: “The judges reported on some exceptional examples of how historical and heritage themes have been embedded into the requirements of the new Curriculum for Wales. The winners should be justly proud and certainly deserve the opportunity for their excellent work to be acknowledged and celebrated. To enable us to award such great prizes, WHSI is extremely grateful and indebted to each and every one of our loyal sponsors, including the Moondance and Hodge Foundations, for their generosity.”
The WHSI prestigious awards acknowledge the excellent work and achievements of pupils of all ages, backgrounds and abilities from across Wales.
This year, Ffion-Jessica Thomas from Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr was presented the so-called “2022 WHSI EUSTORY Prize” for researching the effects of the Welsh language on cognitive development.
The Foundation Phase category winners were Cogan Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan, for their innovative project in the course of which they explored the work of a local herbologist.
The best primary whole-school project was awarded to the Rhws Primary School, Vale of Glamorgan, for their discussion on Who are we as a nation? Next to that, the pioneering project Everyone’s Wales: Breaking Boundaries of Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Llwyncelyn, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was a primary school shield-winner as well.
The 2022 Special Education and Alternative Provision winners were Ysgol Pen y Bryn, Swansea, for their well-crafted project on Swansea Copperopolis.
For the second year running, Ysgol Bro Pedr, Ceredigion, won the Secondary School prize, as well as the Digital Excellence Awards, for their innovative project Pride in Our Area, Our Cynefin. The latter prize was also awarded to Ty'n y Wern Primary, Caerphilly and is sponsored by the People's Collection Wales.
Other specific prizes awarded include one for the study of women in Welsh history - sponsored by Women’s Archive Wales and was won by Ysgol Bro Edern, Cardiff in 2022.
Additionally, the South Wales Institute of Engineers Educational Trust (SWIEET) sponsored two new prizes in 2022: The Gwyn Griffiths Prize for the best project on green issues, which was awarded to Gelli Primary School, Rhondda Cynon Taf, for their project on Black Gold, and The William Menelaus Prize for best project on industrial heritage. The latter was awarded to Fochriw Primary School, Caerphilly for their historic enquiry The Lost Village of Penybanc.
A report of the Welsh History Competition 2022, including a list of all winners along with the adjudications can be found here.
*“Cynefin” is a Welsh word with no direct equivalent in English. Cynefin is used in the new Curriculum for Wales (https://hwb.gov.wales/curriculum-for-wales/humanities/statements-of-what-matters/ ) and is defined there as “The place where we feel we belong, where the people and landscape around us are familiar, and the sights and sounds are reassuringly recognisable. Though often translated as ‘habitat’, cynefin is not just a place in a physical or geographical sense: it is the historical, cultural and social place which has shaped and continues to shape the community which inhabits it.”