The British Empire

Outstanding KS3 history lessons on the British Empire

British Empire - Horrible historiesThe requirement to teach about the British Empire at Key Stage 3 presents us with a range of challenges. We need to make the topic relevant and interesting. We also need to be balanced in our approach, given the empire-bashing that has surrounded the 160th anniversary of the Indian Mutiny (or should I say First War of Independence?) and the bicentenary of the abolition of Britain’s involvement in the Transatlantic Slave trade.

We also need to be aware of the sensitivities of teaching this topic in a multicultural society. But you know all this! What you want are some interesting approaches. Cue outstanding lessons…


A fully-formed medium term planner that shows how to link a study of the empire with a depth study of India nestled within it.

The over-arching enquiry question is: What can we learn about the British Empire from a study of India? The topic covers four centuries from the birth of the East India company to Indian independence. The spine of approach is chronological with a series of cameos in sequence. But the real strength of the unit is the way themes are pulled out from each of the motivating  key questions/ Subscribers can request a copy to be emailed to them.

Teaching the British Empire KS3

In a recent article for the Telegraph, journalist and writer Jeremy Paxman made the following case for teaching the history of the British Empire: [It] explains so much about who we are now… Imperial history explains both why Britain has a seat on the UN Security...
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Indian Mutiny/rebellion of 1857

This lesson is aimed at Y9/GCSE students. It addresses three principal aspects of history teaching:
  1. How to be thoughtful and discriminating when selecting evidence that is relevant to answering two different questions on the same topic.
  2. How to explore the different aspects of historical explanations,...
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The Empire strikes back! SMART TASK KS3

Having previously investigated the criticism of empire, students now set about defending it.  After studying a contemporary Indian view of Empire, which they critique in terms of usefulness, students explore a range of possible achievements of the empire, some using a structured sheet, others are...
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Smart Task: End of Empire: Why did it all end so quickly?

This SMART task ask pupils to classify a number of different smaller reasons why The Empire declined and fell, under four bigger headings.  But they are not told what these headings are.  This they must work out for themselves.  In searching for their own method...
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