Spinning Dunkirk

Rather than simply asking pupils passively to read examples of propaganda surrounding the evacuation of Dunkirk they are asked to put a positive spin on it for themselves. Having been told the harsh realities of what happened, they have to work in groups as the government’s spin doctors and must produce a short broadcast that captures the mood of the time. With its excellent preparatory tasks and modelling of the genre, this lesson makes an outstanding contribution to pupils’ literacy skills, not least their speaking and listening.

Learning objectives

  • pupils learn about the tight censorship that surrounded reporting of the event
  • they learn how a positive spin was placed on events using a number of examples from different media
  • they learn, and then actively use, a range of stylistic conventions to spin an account of their own.

Step 1

Ask pupils if they know what is meant by the term ‘Dunkirk spirit’. What images are conjured up in their minds when they hear the term? Emphasise that for most people it is a positive one.

Step 2

Now contrast this with the grim facts of the case on slide 2.

Step 3

Show the pupils the quotations from Churchill, the

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