As part of the bid to be 2021 UK City of Culture, Stoke-on-Trent students are looking to their industrial legacy and getting their hands dirty

Late morning in Stoke-on-Trent and a class of 11-year-olds are being prepared for public speaking. You can picture the scene: a red-faced student stands mortified in front of her fellow classmates, struggling to recite a poem she had barely an hour to learn. Except, they do things differently in Stoke.

“It’s fun because I use my hands,” beams Mohammed Abouebaida, a year 7 student at Thistley Hough academy, as he squishes and moulds a wet lump of clay. All round him, Mohammed’s classmates make clay soldiers or create army tanks and barbed wire fences – symbols of the first world war poems they will later recite.

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