This lesson takes a familiar cartoon but gives it an original twist. Instead of seeing the cartoon all at once, students see it in four separate parts, which in pairs they have to draw in turns. This helps them to focus on the details and just adds a touch of variety. Having QUICKLY created their copy of the cartoon they then set about analysing it and writing their own expert caption. This lesson is based on an original idea from Steve Rollett, Head of History at Noadswood School, nr Southampton.

Learning objectives

  • to study a political cartoon closely commenting on all the detail included
  • to analyse the messages that the cartoonist is trying to get over
  • to make a judgement about where the cartoonist sympathies lie


Start the lesson with slide 2 on display, so students know the lesson is on Old Age Pensions and can see the date etc. Then engage the class with the photo of an old man on slide 2. Ask the question, Is this man a pensioner? Clearly students’ first reaction will be a straight yes or no, so then ask them which questions we need to ask in order to establish this. Using the animated captions reveal the five that are key. If your students haven’t yet studied this reform then slide 4 gives a helpful summary. Use slide 5 to show a successful claim, showing how the applicant has fulfilled the criteria. This is helpful reinforcement of the key provisions.

Step 1

Now introduce the idea of cartoonists portraying the OAP in cartoons of the time. Ask students to work in pairs, A and B. On-screen instructions are on slide 6. Students will need a copy of the template on slide 11. Explain that students are to work together to alternately draw parts of a cartoon which is revealed on the screen.

A is the first to draw, using the top panel of the 4 on slide7. Before you display slide 7 make sure that student B is looking away from the screen and cannot see what his partner is drawing. This must be a quick sketch only, so give them just a minute. When the minute is up swop roles. A looks away while B draws slide 8 in the 2nd panel. Then A does his second drawing in the third panel while B is looking away and finally B draws the last panel from slide 10.

Step 2

When finished, and hopefully this is fun – though keep it quick – display the full image, using slide 12. Now ask the students to work together to analyse the cartoon using the 3Cs.

Step 3

Students feedback their ideas which you then consolidate by showing slide 13. Emphasise that Punch often showed Lloyd George as a ferocious campaigner on behalf of the poor, once famously drawing him as a giant with a club.

Step 4

Students now write their expert caption making sure they focus on the 3rd of the 3Cs commenting on the cartoon’s meaning.

Step 5

Students briefly peer assess each other’s caption in relation to the 3Cs on slide 12 (have it showing).

Step 6

Explain that whilst many people were happy about the pension provision see photo slide 14 and speech bubble 15, some were not. Can students think of what a pessimist might say. That is where the next lesson will start. How effective was this reform?