Just how great was Alfred? Can we beat the BBC website? Anglo-Saxons Key Question 5

In this outstanding lesson, pupils are asked to critique and then improve the BBC children’s website entry for Alfred. But first they need to see how history has commemorated Alfred and then carry out some research for themselves. This lesson offers plenty of opportunities to develop two key concepts: interpretations and significance. Pupils learn that historians have to be careful when using sources: some deliberately exaggerate and have been written for a particular purpose.

Learning objectives

  • to use clues to research the different reasons why Alfred has been deemed to be ‘great’.
  • to work out which of Alfred’s achievements were the most significant to critique a website identifying where it is weak and how it might be improved
  • to understand that lack of sources can distort our view of the past
  • to grasp that some historians’ interpretations can give too positive a view of a person in history if they use sources uncritically

Starter activity

Display slides which show the traditional view of Alfred. Can the pupils work out what is happening in the book on slide 2? They should see the Viking signing something. But who seems to be in control? It is in fact a peace treaty with

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