Citizenship GCSE: Diversity and Identity

This short film examines attitudes towards identity, diversity and immigration in British society before the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The Lawrence family talk about the society Stephen grew up in, highlighting the diversity and inclusiveness of his school and home life, and how race and identity was never really an issue.

This childhood is contrasted with that of Stephen's cousin's, whose parents were a lot more political. Stephen's cousin's experiences of secondary school were very different; pupils from different races didn't necessarily mix.

The political mood of London is examined in the build-up to Stephen's murder, with footage of BNP protests. The BNP had strongholds in the towns surrounding Woolwich, were Stephen grew up.

Stephen's family recall the day he was murdered and the feelings and emotions they experienced.

They talk about how it changed their perception of how included they felt in their own society.

This short film could be drawn on as part of the annual national Stephen Lawrence Day on 22nd April. For more information visit the Stephen Lawrence Day website.

PLEASE NOTE: This short film contains language that may cause offence. Teacher review is recommended prior to use in class.

Teacher Notes

Possible areas of enquiry:

These questions can be single lesson titles within a larger scheme of learning or big enquiry questions to inform a unit of work. In which case, this short film can be used as a stimulus to support any of these areas.

  • Does increased diversity jeopardise community cohesion?
  • Has immigration led to more tension and friction within communities?
  • Should Britain do more to help migrant communities and those seeking to come to Britain?
  • Does the government do enough to protect and promote tolerance and the rights of diverse groups?

Before watching the film

This short film is suitable for students aged 14-16, however it is important to preface that some background knowledge of the murder of Stephen Lawrence should be addressed prior to showing the film in class.

This could be through using an article outlining the particulars of the case either as a home learning task or within the lesson.

During the lesson - Before watching the film

To begin, encourage students to become familiar with some of the key vocabulary that is used in the film or recap it if they have already learnt these terms: Commonwealth, Diversity, Multiculturalism and Identity.

You can also begin to brainstorm reasons why people migrate and why people in the Commonwealth are more likely to come to Britain than any other European country. (People from the Commonwealth are more likely to come to the UK than any other country due to shared history, culture and language).

NB: Discuss some of the social, economic and political reasons why people migrate and how that can impact the UK. (5 min)

While watching the film - Activity

It might be worthwhile to watch the first 04.18 minutes and ask your students to take notes of what they notice.

Task - I notice and I wonder:

Students can note down everything they notice about what life was like in Britain for new migrants and what society was like.

Inform students of key areas to look out for (e.g. Diversity, Integration and Community Cohesion), then ask them to consider what they notice around these key topics.

You can also ask your students to write a list of things they wonder about in the form of a question.

NB: You could ask students to feedback their wonder questions and use this to lead a class discussion or alternatively begin to question students about the experiences of ethnic minorities in the UK over the last 50 years, what do they think has changed today and what has stayed the same?

Continue watching the film

Task - students watch (04.20 – 06.37) and answer the following:

  • What was Britain like in the 90s and how did Stephen integrate into society?
  • How did Britain change after his death?
  • How was London different to other parts of the UK?
  • Why and how did immigration impact Britain and race relations?

Pause the film (06.38)

Task: In a turn and talk activity ask students to discuss the following in pairs:

  • How might the integration of different communities help build community cohesion?
  • What might be some of the challenges?

Continue watching the film to the end (06.38 - 09.41).

NB: Provide additional time for students to complete all questions in relation to the film.

After watching the film - Activity

After watching this short film it might be a good point to get students reflecting on their own identity and how it is shaped.

NB: Ask them the question - what makes someone feel or identify as British? Elicit feedback and further probe where necessary in order to flesh out more concepts.

Reflection task:

Allow time for review and feedback and for students to apply what they have learnt from the film linking this to the extended writing section of the GCSE citizenship exam.

Working in groups of three, students could discuss the question before answering it.

Give them time to read each statement and link it to one of the key aspects of the film.

They could then label each other A,B,C: Person A answers one of the statements, person B must disagree with person A's answer and person C summarises both points and states which was the stronger argument.

Talking through statements prior to writing can help students make deeper and broader connections between different ideas, issues and concepts.

This will also be a good opportunity to get students to provide a reasoned and well-justified judgment and practice providing an alternative perspective.

Extended writing statements:

  • ‘Immigration led to more tension and friction within communities’ how far do you agree?
  • ‘Diversity and better integration will help further in promoting respect and tolerance and building community cohesion' how far do you agree?
  • ‘We should be free to identify as anything we like’ how far do you agree?

Curriculum Notes

This short film supports understanding around GCSE citizenship, linking to concepts surrounding living in the UK.

It provides for an intrinsic look at the life of Stephen Lawrence and his family, from his parents' migration from Jamaica through to his early developments and integration within their community, as well as wider British society.

This short film also explores Commonwealth migration and some of the challenges surrounding increased diversity on community cohesion.

The detailed personal accounts from Stephen's family members provide a unique opportunity to reflect on issues surrounding individual identity and culture.

The discussion surrounding identity promotes dialogue around what makes one feel British, how we identify our self and what contributes to our identity.

More from Stephen: The Murder that Changed a Nation

Racism and Institutional Racism
Democracy and Justice