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Oakfield Primary School pupils visit Brading Roman Villa for Mardi Gras inspiration

2 l-r Spencer Easton, Imogen Mason and Peyton Norville from Year 3 making mosaics

On June 29, the New Carnival Company’s (NCC) Mardi Gras will take place in Ryde, and preparation for the ‘Biosphere Island’ theme is now underway. All participating school and community groups will partner with an expert organisation to help research their Island-based subject, and last week (Thursday 17 and Friday 18 January) Oakfield Primary School became the first group to visit their ‘Historical Environment’ partner, Brading Roman Villa.

The 84 pupils gained valuable insight into how the Romans lived, to inspire designs for their costumes which will represent Brading Roman Villa in the parade. The children enjoyed a tour of the villa, made mosaics, handled artefacts and worked out what different objects were used for.

Education Officer Spencer Brown said, “We’ve been helping the children to explore the villa so they can feel what it was like to be a Roman living at Brading.  Visits always inspire and engage, and this has been a springboard into their topic on the Romans as well as laying the foundations for our collaboration with the NCC and  the Mardi Gras parade.  The children threw themselves into the activities and created a day they will never forget.  Everyone will see this in the parade.”

All pupils will then be involved in designing outfits in class, before making the selected costumes which will be worn at Mardi Gras.

Diane Robinson, Lower Key Stage 2 teacher at Oakfield Primary School said, “We’ve linked our curriculum topic, ‘Life in Roman times’ with Mardi Gras, but people shouldn’t assume we’ll all be dressed as Roman soldiers. Evidence suggests Brading Roman Villa was a farm not a fort, and the children have been learning about the other ‘F’ words associated with this villa including food, floors, fields and fences. We’ll be concentrating on these aspects, and not the fighting.”

Frankie Goldspink, creative director of the NCC, said, “The 2019 Mardi Gras parade is a collaboration with Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), who are leading the bid for the Island to become the third  UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve in England.  With the support of many other local heritage and environmental organisations who are working with schools and communities in this process, we are really embracing the concept of Biosphere, and getting everyone to feel part of it.”

To date, 30 groups and 25 heritage organisations are signed up for the Mardi Gras project, but it’s not too late to join. Contact NCC on 716095 to find out how.

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