Teachers' Notes

Curriculum links:

KS3 & 4 History: World War One

Learning objectives:

Knowledge about the difficulties farmers faced in keeping the nation fed during the First World War and how they addressed these problems

Understanding that farmers and agricultural workers played an important role on the Home Front

Skills in analysing and interpreting historical evidence


Discussion ideas:

  • Why do you think the government did not take action to deal with the rural labour shortage before 1916?
  • Why do you think farmers objected so strongly to the pay and conditions imposed on them for employing soldiers?
  • What do you think was the impact of employing German prisoners of war as agricultural labourers on farms?
  • Read the extracts from the East Riding War Agricultural Committee minutes (see Downloads below).
  • Why do you think the War Agricultural Committee was 'unable' to make arrangements for the employment of conscientious objectors on agricultural work?
  • According to the Committee, what reasons did farmers give for not wanting to employ soldiers?  
  • Why do you think allotments were seen as a solution to food shortages?
  • Read the War Agricultural Committee minutes(see Downloads link below). What other measures did the committee take to encourage the production of food?

Activity ideas:

  • Imagine you are a farmer. It’s 1918. You usually employ 20 men for two months over the summer to work on the harvest, but no men are available this year. How will you ensure the harvest is gathered in on time?
  • Who would you choose to employ? Think about what skills you will need.
  • How will you go about finding them?
  • What practical arrangements would you need to make for your workers?
  • What problems might you encounter, and how will you solve them?


See also the following related learning resources:

View other relevant resources on My Learning or scroll down to the bottom of the page for a list of related links and resources on this topic.