British Values in Action: Votes for Working Men

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links:
British Values in Action: Promoting fundamental British values as part of SMSC in schools: respect for democracy and support for the participation in the democratic processes; understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the democratic process.

KS2-3 English/Literacy - Constructing an argument
KS2 History: A local history study
KS3 History: Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901 (party politics, extension of the franchise and social reform)

Aim of resource:

To present a case study showing the significance of changes in voting rules and that universal suffrage has not always been in place, as a starting point for discussion about British values

Learning objectives:

Understanding of the fact that the right to vote is relatively new and that working people have had to fight for this.
Knowledge of how changes in voting rules can affect the outcome of elections

Discussion questions:

The resource is designed as a starting point for discussion around British Values as part of SMSC. Teachers may wish to use it as a ‘circle time’ type discussion linked to a history topic that pupils are already familiar with. 
  • What do you think 'values' mean?
  • What do we know about MPs? 
  • What does an MP's job involve? 
  • What kinds of things do MPs decide for us?
  • Was it fair that, in 1830, usually only wealthy men had the vote? 
  • Why do you think wealthy men often voted for Stanley and not Hunt? Why do you think working men often voted for Hunt?
  • You may have noticed that women’s votes have not been mentioned much. Why not?
  • Which do you think is best: public or secret voting? Why?
  • Is the voting system in the UK better today than in 1832? 
  • Could our voting system today be better?  

Activity ideas:

British Values activities
  • Brainstorm and discuss what the concept of 'values' means.

  • Research what exactly qualifies someone to vote in Britain today. Are these modern rules fair? Could they be improved?

  • Compare Britain’s voting rules with those of another country.
  • Find out the name of your local parliamentary candidates or local counsellor candidates.
    - What do they believe in?
    - Would you vote for their ideas? 

  • Create an election leaflet describing what you would do if you were elected MP. Hold an election in your class or school. 
History activities
  • Find out about the different Reform Acts in Britain across the 19th Century. 
  • Compare the democratic rights of ordinary people across time. 
Literacy activities
  • Make a list of reasons people should vote for either Henry Hunt or Edward Stanley. Create election leaflets, posters or speeches for either candidate. 
  • Look carefully at the Preston Election painting (two details pictured above). Write a newspaper article describing the events.

View other relevant My Learning resources or scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.

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