Previous section
Teachers' Notes

Watching the film

The film’s narrative is aimed at KS1/KS2 children, and it also provides a good starting point for KS3 students to study British political power. We are introduced to three key figures (Robert Blatchford, Victor Grayson, J.H. Whitley) whose lives spanned almost 100 years in which the nature of the British political and social landscape was to undergo huge change.

 

It is suggested that teachers watch the film before showing it to students, and become familiar with the contents of this pack so that they are able to answer any questions. It may be useful for the students to have an understanding of the following: Socialism, Liberal, Labour Party, election, independent, orator, and to know the location of Colne Valley.

 

The film is 4 minutes 10 seconds long and includes stopping points with questions which are listed below. If the film is being used as an introduction to the topic, teachers may wish to skip the questions and return to them after the class have done some research. Alternatively, the questions can be used as a starter for discussion or a way of finding out what students already know.

 

The film shows Robert Blatchford, Victor Grayson and J.H. Whitley in chronological order and sets out some of their achievements and beliefs. Students are then asked questions which encourage them to undertake their own research, or consider their responses to what they have discovered.

 

The questions are as follows

  • 1:28 What can you find out about Cinderella Clubs and Whitley Councils?

The Cinderella Movement was a late nineteenth century British movement to provide food and entertainment for poor children. Individuals formed "Cinderella Clubs", named after the fairy tale character Cinderella, to address specific problems associated with children's welfare. Robert Blatchford was a journalist based in Manchester, co-founder and editor of the Clarion Newspaper. He saw the poverty that existed among mill-workers resolved to do something about it. He started by writing articles encouraging like-minded readers to join him in the formation of groups who would provide food and entertainment for the children forced to live in industrial slums. They quickly became known as Cinderella Clubs. Blatchford’s activism was effective - cities throughout Britain formed their own Cinderella Clubs and much practical help was given. The Bradford Cinderella Club is still active today.

 

During World War I, in 1917, John Henry Whitley was appointed to chair a committee to report on 'the Relations of Employers and Employees' against the background of an emerging shop stewards movement. The smooth running of industry was vital to the war effort so maintaining good industrial relations was a priority.

 

J. H. Whitley proposed a system of regular formal meetings between workers and employers, known to this day as "Whitley Councils". These meetings covered issues related to pay and conditions of service, and to take matters through to arbitration if necessary. This was a strong model which was to influence industrial relations beyond the UK. Today they remain a major feature of the public sector.

 

The Blatchford and Whitley collections at Heritage Quay contain books, pamphlets and other original documents which provide a unique opportunity for children to carry out their own research.

 

  • 2:07 Can you find some of Victor Grayson’s speeches and compare them with those of today’s politicans? What do you notice?

Victor Grayson was a popular and rousing speaker with a reputation for witty put downs when dealing with hecklers. (Many examples in the Colne Valley Guardian records at Heritage Quay). Many of his beliefs are echoed in the speeches of today’s politicians (sexual equality, abolition of the House of Lords). Some examples are given at the end of this pack. The Victor Grayson collection at Heritage Quay contains newspaper cuttings, books, pamphlets and many other records which students can investigate for themselves.

 

  • 3:34 Which of these politicans do you think made the most signficant contribution to the labour movement? (NB. Robert Blatchford was a campaigner for social reform, not a politician).

Victor Grayson was a popular M.P. with the voters but his time in Parliament was short lived and he was not very active in the house. Robert Blatchford was a campaigner and writer rather than a politician and leaves behind him a publishing company and Cinderella Clubs. J. H. Whitley’s career spanned ovr 40 years and during that time he was a local councillor, Halifax M.P., Junior Lord of the Treasury and finally Speaker of the House. He was also Chairman of the Board of Governors.

 

Ask the children to consider what each of these men achieved in their lifetimes, how they affected the lives of others, and what remains of those achievements today.

 

  • 3:39 Can you find out more about Victor Grayson’s life? What do you think happened to him?

There are many online sources of information about Victor Grayson’s life (see Further links and Resources) as well as a 1985 BBC2 documentary which can be seen at Heritage Quay. When retelling his story, ask the children to consider which information is rumour, and which can be evidenced.