Guidance for teaching Amy Johnson as a Famous Person in Key Stage 1

This study of a significant individual has been designed to form part of a broader topic on a similar theme which is one of the key new requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum for history. It can also be covered as discrete topic in its own right, especially as it presents a positive image of female achievement in the male dominated domains of engineering and aviation. Amy was just a few months old when Wilbur and Orville Wright realised the dream of ages and made it possible for man to fly in the air like a bird. When she was just 6, Bleriot flew a plane across the English Channel.

Our approach revolves around just six questions and a home study. Some questions can be covered quickly, with a broad brush: others need time for pupils to investigate for themselves. The detailed Medium Term Planner can be found in the planning section of the site. Lessons/activities with PowerPoints and other resources are being finalised at the moment (June 2015). Subscribers are welcome to contact us for draft versions of any of the lessons/tasks related to the key questions below.

Here are the six:

1. Why did you think that people still remember Amy Johnson? (Key aspect of historical understanding: significance)

2. How did Amy the secretary become Amy the Queen of the Air in such a short time? (Change and sequence)

3. Why was flying to Australia so difficult for a woman like Amy? (Characteristic features of the period.)

4. How did people react to Amy’s famous flight at the time, and how do we know? (Evidence)

5 How did things change for Amy after her famous flight? ( Change, consequences)

6. How can we solve the mystery of what happened to Amy?

10 things you need to know about Amy

  • Amy was fascinated by flying after seeing a film in April 1928, and learnt to fly in her spare time.
  • Her day job was that of a secretary.
  • In December 1929 she was the first woman to receive a ground engineer’s certificate.
  • She was a keen mechanic and never happier than when involved in a greasy repair job.
  • She was, to some, a domineering, arrogant person who preferred to be known as Johnny and treated as one of the boys.
  • With the help of Sir Sefton Brancker she bought a second hand Gipsy Moth biplane which she called Jason and on 5th May 1930 set out to fly to Australia.
  • She was caught in a sandstorm in the Arabian desert and later had to force-land on a Java sugar estate where holes pierced on Jason’s wings had to be mended with sticking plaster.
  • She arrived in Australia after 20 days and became a national heroine.
  • She kept herself in the news by further flying feats
  • She died in 1941, just 38 years old, in a mysterious accident.
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