Did the Great Fire really end the Great Plague of 1665?

In this one-lesson enquiry pupils look carefully at statistics and maps in order to challenge received opinion.  To do so they must raise as well as answer questions and need to be mindful of flaws in the evidence they use.  They conclude by reaching an independent verdict supporting their argument with well-chosen evidence.

Learning objectives

  • Pupils ask historical questions to frame their enquiry
  • they select key pieces of evidence
  • they test a simple hypothesis and develop the ability to argue against it, using telling evidence
  • they realise that there are pieces of ‘killer’ evidence that cannot be contradicted.

Step 1

Introduce slide 2 of the PowerPoint presentation which challenges pupils to see of Sam’s Gran is correct in her view that the Great Fire brought an end to the Great Plague as she learnt in school. This is a frequently held opinion and one that is repeated in 21st century history books. Surely it must be right?  There have recently been some contrary views. Can the pupils bring the argument to rest one way or the other?

Step 2

To launch the enquiry, ask pupils to think about how they would set about proving their case. This is quite demanding

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