Victorian railways: winners and losers. A thinking skills activity leading to a role play

This active, thinking skills lesson asks pupils to consider the likely effect of the coming of the railways on different groups in society before going on to take part in a role play in which villagers have to debate whether they should support or oppose the coming of the railway to their town soon.  For some pupils living on a direct line between London and Birmingham this will be highly relevant.

Learning objectives

  • Pupils are able to see that there were winners and losers with the coming of the railways;
  • they can begin to predict the likely effect the railways would have had on different occupations;
  • they can cooperate in group decision-making and can articulate and give a strong reason for adopting a particular point of view.

Step 1

The lesson starts by setting the scene for the beginning of the railways, giving just enough context so that pupils can start thinking about the likely impact the railways would have had.  Slides 2 to 5 gives clues about the speed of travel (compared with coach) and the access it gave people to the seaside.

Step 2

Now give a couple of clues as to why railways were seen as a

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