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Teachers' Notes

Resource created by: Wakefield Libraries

This resource examines the lasting impact of WW1 on British society, specifically for women and families.


Curriculum Links

  • KS3 History: WW1 | Challenges for Britain 1901 to present.
  • KS3 English : Writing for a wide range of purposes and audiences - scripts

Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of the challenges faced by British people in the years after the First World War.
  • Understanding of themes surrounding the First World War.
  • Skills to put historical events in context.

Discussion Ideas

  • What do you think it was like to live in Britain just after WW1?
  • Why do you think war-widows needed to have a pension?
  • Do you think it was right for them to receive one? Why/why not?
  • Why do you think some people might have had a problem with war-widows receiving pensions?
  • In what sort of ways do you think women’s lives changed before and after the First World War?
  • Why do you think Rosamund Essex’s teacher meant when she warned her pupils that they would ‘have to fight’?
  • How does the phrase ‘Surplus Two Million’ make you feel? Do you think it is a good way to describe the large number of women after WW1?
  • Do you have any knowledge of how a family was affected by the First World War?


Activity Ideas

  • English - Debate from different perspectives:
    Divide into five groups – one group represents a war-widow who receives a small pension, while the others include:
    - an ex-soldier who feels that the pensions for widows are too generous, and that his own is insufficient
    - an employee at the Local Pensions Office
    - a neighbour of the war-widow who has reported the widow to the Pensions Office for misbehaving
    - a volunteer at the local Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association.

    Think about your character. Make notes on the following, while trying to find pieces of historical evidence (this can consist of first-hand quotes; secondary sources; images etc) to back up your points:
    - How do they feel about the widow’s situation?
    - Why do they feel this way?
    - What is happening in post-war society that would colour their views?
    - What do you think they would do next?

    Now create a script and present your character to the class. Swap with another group and try to find evidence that contradicts their point.

    Discuss the results with the class to show that historical evidence is open to different interpretations.
  • Turn a WW1 story into a timeline: 
    Read some of the stories of First World War soldiers on the We Will Remember Them website ( see link at bottom of page). Choose one story that particularly interests you. Think about how his life changed because of the war or, if he did not survive, how his family’s lives might have altered after his death.

    Use the information and images of the soldier on the website to make a timeline of events. Look up extra information online, such as:
    - Dates of battles the soldier might have been involved in
    - Dates of laws that were made that might have affected him (eg. Conscription or women receiving the vote)
    - Dates of key events, like Britain going to war.

    The results of this activity could be used to create a collective WW1 memorial display in the classroom.