The Time School series follows four friends as they journey back to different periods of time over the course of their first year at secondary school.
Not only do the children embark on the adventure that is their first year at secondary school, but they also get the opportunity to see what life was like during other times in their school’s history.
I’ve always been fascinated by genealogy and the idea of the ghosts of the past intermingling with the present. Not in a haunting way, but more a whispering reminder that they were once a living being, telling us not to forget them. Our ancestry shapes who we are and it’s important to know what other people went through in order to appreciate the lives we have today.
Whenever I go into an old building or stately home, I find myself wondering what the walls, if they could talk, would tell me about the people who once lived there.
What did they look like?
What did they wear?
What was going on in their worlds at the time? Was there a war somewhere in the world? Did they go home every night to no water or electricity?
A few years ago, I received a booklet celebrating the centenary of my old school. It went back over the history of the school since it first opened. It really got me thinking about the children who had been at that school over those 100 years and all that had gone on in the world during that time. I also thought how amazing it would be if you could go back in time to witness some of the events of the past for yourself.
I gave that opportunity to four characters: Jess, Nadia, Ash and Tomma and the series grew from there.
My stories explore this concept, as the children uncover things about their past they had no idea about, but that have a direct reflection on their current lives. This helps them understand more about themselves, shaping who they are as young people trying to make sense of the world.
I wanted to pick four points in time that extended across their first year at secondary school, so I started with the First World War, specifically the end of it – November 1918. The story would not only examine what it was like to live and go to school in the early 1900s, but it would also look into what it was like to live through a war.
We often hear about life in the trenches during WW1, but not so much about the people at home – on the home front, as it’s called. They were worrying about their loved ones, struggling to feed their families due to food shortages and for the women, it meant stepping up to take over the jobs of the men. A lot was going on, but at the same time, life went on pretty much as normal, because there wasn’t really anything else you could do except get on with it.
Then, for Book 2, the children go back in time to just after the Second World War, when there was peace, but times were still very hard because the war had taken so much out of people: they were still on rations, the country was in ruins, jobs were scarce. This was also a very tense time because Europe had been divided and the Western half of Europe worried that there might be another war, this time with Russia. There was one country in particular that was caught up in the middle of all this and that was Poland.
Time School: We Will Honour Them centres around Polish refugee, Marcel and his struggles to find acceptance in a country that welcomed him in during the war, but doesn’t seem to want him now it’s over.
The third book in the series is called Time School: We Will Stand with Them and in this story, Ash learns more about his dad’s early life in England as a refugee from Uganda in the 1970s, and the difficulties he faced as an ethnic minority during such a tense time.
Then finally, for the fourth and final book, it’s back to the 90s and Tomma’s turn to learn about what happened to his mum when she escaped the Croatian civil war to come to England. I was at the real-life Hickley School during this time (Heckmondiwke Grammar School – the school on which this series is based) so this story has the most personal meaning to me of the four.
Throughout the series, the Time School stories give the four children a chance to experience a slice of life – both at school and away from it – during important times in our history, times that you might not necessarily know about. There is, of course, some drama and tension along the way, but I don’t want to give too much of that away!
You can buy both Time School books from all the major book retailers, as well directly from me on my online shop.