History of Leeds - Poverty and Riches

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links:
KS2 - History - Local History
KS3 - History - Local History
 

Aims of resource: 

To help children understand more about the development of their local area or the contrast between how rich and poor lived, using the case study of Leeds.

Learning objectives:

Knowledge of how living conditions altered for people in all areas of society in Leeds from the 17th-20th Century
Understanding of continuity and change throughout history and the effects of key events, such as legislation,
Skills to engage with a local history study and draw contrasts and connections between different periods

Discussion ideas:

  • What do you think it was like to live in Leeds in the past?
  • In what ways do you think life in Leeds improved from the 17th Century onwards?
  • How do you think rich and poor people in Leeds felt about living so near each other?
  • Why do you think rich and poor people enjoyed different leisure activities?
  • How did people try to solve the problem of poverty in Leeds?
  • Why might people have been forced to go into the workhouse?
  • What do you think it would be like to live in a workhouse?
  • How do people try to fight poverty in the UK today?
  • What do you think life was like before free medical care?
  • What would your life be like if you couldn't afford to go to the doctor?
  • How might life have been different for women in the past?
  • There were a lot of changes to ordinary people's lives in the early 20th Century. Which do you think were the most important and why?

Activity ideas:

  • Creative writing/interpreting historical documents:
    Use the 1881 Census list of Leeds Union Workhouse residents (see link below) as inspiration for creative writing. After discussing the document as a class, pupils can choose a particular inmate or family and interpret the 'clues' given in the document to build a character.

    - How old are they?
    - Do they have any relations in the workhouse?
    - Where did they come from?
    - Why might they have left their home?
    - What job did they do before coming to the workhouse?
    - Do you think

    Fleshed out with further research, they can use this information to write a short story (or an alternative creative response) about how the person came to the workhouse, and what their earlier life might have been like.

  • Class debate:
    Divide the class into four groups. They are 'rich', 'middle class', 'working class' and 'pauper' citizens of Leeds. Using a large sheet of paper divided into 6 boxes, each group writes down six points about how their lives changed for the better from the 17th to the 20th Century. Each point must be backed up with a piece of factual evidence.
    - The group then swaps sheets with another group who use sticky notes to respond to what the other group has written and find evidence to contradict their points.
    - Each sheet is then held up in front of the class, who vote collectively for which group's evidence is stronger and find a ‘winner’. 

  • Online Research: 
    Children can independently explore the images on the Leodis website (see link below) of historic Leeds, perhaps searching on a theme or researching a particular area of the city.

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




 
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