Teachers Notes

Welcome to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s (CWGC) Virtual Cemetery educational microsite.


At the CWGC we commemorate the 1,700,000 men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars.  Our cemeteries, burial plots and memorials are a lasting tribute to those who died in some 153 countries across the world.  Our register records details of Commonwealth war dead so that graves or names on memorials can be located.  To access our main education section of the CWGC website please go to www.cwgc.org/learning-and-resources.aspx.


Visiting possibilities

Here at the CWGC we actively encourage schools and youth groups to visit our cemeteries and memorials.  This new virtual cemetery can be used as a pre-visit resource so that your students have a better understanding of our organisation which will ultimately enhance their learning experience at any of our sites.

We do understand that visiting our cemeteries or memorials may not be possible for everyone.  This new virtual cemetery will hopefully give your students a closer look into what a typical CWGC cemetery is like.  We hope this new resource will engage students with the CWGC and allow them to explore the ideas of remembrance, reflection and understanding.


Key Stages 2 and 3

The Virtual Cemetery is designed to be an introduction to the CWGC, our cemeteries and memorials.  It is suitably aimed at students within Key Stages 2 and 3.   The resource has the potential to engage students in a variety of ways, through different topics that will stretch their understanding of remembrance and the world wars.

The resource will allow students to debate challenging topics such as the way men and women were treated in the two world wars, how those men and women are remembered now and ultimately the relevance of keeping their memories alive.  The diverse make up of those who died during the two world wars can easily be studied to explore the diversity within the UK and the Commonwealth.


How the microsite works

The Virtual Cemetery is a simple concept that can be used as a teacher led resource, or for the students to be working through the microsite independently or through group work.  The Virtual Cemetery can be easily divided into five sections; the history and relevance, the staff of the CWGC, the stone of remembrance, the cross of sacrifice and the people we commemorate.  Each section includes a short video clip and a image gallery which could be used as a lesson’s starter stimulus.

The microsite is designed to be child friendly, so that they can use the site independently using the similar functions and icons they are used to through using ipads, mobile phone apps and other platforms.


Lesson possibilities

The six short videos within the resource can be used as scene setting stimulus of the two world wars and remembrance or as part of a deeper thematic approach.  We have created a range of flexible lesson activities and plans that support this resource and are available to download here.

You will also find that the Virtual Cemetery enhances our existing CWGC educational resources.  This new resource could be used as the introduction to remembrance and then your class moves on to a more specialist angle.  One example would be using our DVD Let us die like Brothers to learn about the history and personal experiences of volunteers of the South African Labour Corps and the sinking of the SS Mendi during the First World War.  Links to our existing educational resources can be found here.

Please see below an overview of the achievable skills and understandings that could be achieved through using this resource within both Key Stages 2 and 3.
KS2 Achievable Skills


Preparing to Play an Active Role as Citizens
Respecting Differences Between People


Creative writing
Group Discussion


Chronicle  Understanding
Historical Interpretation
Knowledge and Understanding
Historical Enquiry

Religious Education

Diversity within the UK
Community Cohesion
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development


KS3 Achievable Skills and Understanding


Critical Thinking and Enquiry
Global Community
Range and Content
Rights and Responsibilities
The Work of Not for Profit Organisations
Community Engagement
War and Peace
Democracy and Justice
The Role of the Military, Past, Present and Future


Speaking and Listening
Reading for Meaning
Critical Understanding
Cultural Heritage
Creative Writing


Local, British, European and World History
Changing Nature of Conflict
Our Past
Chronological Understanding
Cultural, Ethnic and Religious Diversity
Change and Continuity
Cause and Consequence
Significance and Relevance
Historical Interpretation
Historical Enquiry

Religious Education

Diversity within the UK
Philosophical and Ethical Issues
War and Peace
Community Cohesion
Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development