CHILDREN in schools across the country have spent 2014 learning about the First World War in an entirely new light - thanks to a innovative new programme by Bradford's Peace Museum.

"Choices Then and Now" was an educational programme produced by the museum that not only looks at the history of the war, but also the choices individual people faced when it broke out.

The programme has been sent out to 23 Local Education Authorities around the UK, with thousands of children having taken part.

As well as looking at how the war affected those who fought in it, the project also had a focus on those who campaigned against war, and conscientious objectors who faced prison for refusing to fight.

The course was set up to mark the 100th anniversary of the start of the war, and will continue over the coming years.

It also compares the choices faced by people in the Great War with those people have faced in subsequent conflicts.

As well as the course, the museums staff have been involved in numerous events to mark the war, including workshops where children were taught about poppies - white poppies to remember conscientious objectors and purple poppies to mark the deaths of animals in the war as well as the classic red poppies. There were workshops before performances of War Horse at the Alhambra Theatre earlier in the year.

The Stories in Stone project looked saw staff investigate conscientious objectors buried in Undercliffe Cemetery, which had not previously been recorded.

Despite the fact that those who refused to fight were often looked down on during the war, military veterans have been very respectful and supportive of the museum's efforts to show that fighting is not the only solution.

Hundreds of students visited the museum, at Piece Hall Yard in Bradford city centre, over the year, and there were also school visits by staff. Although the majority of schools had been around Bradford, schools from Skipton had also visited.

Shannen Lang, who works at the museum, said children had been very receptive to the programme, despite the difficult subject matter. She said: "As well as the soldiers we also look at conscientious objectors, what they did during the war and how they can also be seen as brave. We asked children about the choices they make every day and then compared them to the choices people had to make in the war.

"It is surprising how well children do respond to it when we move on to the more difficult themes. Because it is the 100th anniversary the kids have been learning a lot about it, so they do know some of the themes. They have a knowledge of what has happened but they don't always know about things like conscientious objectors."

The museum is the only one of its kind in the UK, and looks at the history of peaceful protest, anti war campaigns, and efforts to bring peace to the world. It has a large collection of placards, banners, paintings and newspaper cuttings. The past year has seen it attract more visitors than ever before, despite its limited opening times of just a few days a week. In the past month the museum has had over 300 visitors.

Miss Lang added: "The programme looks at the peace side of conflicts, and relates WW1 to modern conflicts.

"The children were very excited to find out about the different poppies. They see photos of soldiers with dogs on the news today, so there are still animals being used in conflict."

After the Stories in Stone project, some descendants of the conscientious objectors got in touch with the museum, and Miss Lang said: "One woman came to us and she was happy that their relative had finally got some recognition. They were often brave men who stood up to war. Her grandchildren even came to one of our poppy workshops.

"We were at the cemetery at an event to honour military personnel in the war. We were really well received, there was no negative comments about what we were doing. We always try to balance what we do - we try not to force our message. You cannot teach about the war without talking about the people who did fight.

"We've been really happy with how it was received."

The programme will continue over the coming years, with a special focus on 2016 - the year conscription was instituted.