History KS2: An investigation into the life and work of Muriel Matters

Joe Crowley helps a team of four pupils to uncover the story of Muriel Matters, a campaigner for women to be given the right to vote.

The history hunt begins in Hastings where there is a plaque to Muriel Matters – the first woman 'to speak' in Parliament.

The children head for the town's archives where they discover that Muriel was a noted campaigner for women's rights to sit in Parliament as an MP and that she was a suffragette.

They find out that she was the architect of a number of 'stunts' designed to raise awareness of the issue.

The film ends with the children solving the mystery of why Muriel Matters was the first woman 'to speak' in the House of Commons.

During her invasion of the floor of the Commons, she breached a boundary between public access areas and the chamber to give her impassioned speech and so became, not in a conventional way, the first woman to be heard in the Commons.

This clip is from the series History Hunt Episode 2.

Teacher Notes

After viewing the clip, students could work together to draw a timeline charting the history of women's rights in the UK.

The students could use a range of sources to establish landmark events, such as the dates of voting reform, the election of the first women MPs and the passing of laws equalising pay and working conditions.

When the timeline is complete, ask: “Which is the most important date on our timeline?”

The students could discuss their responses and vote on a final choice.

Muriel Matters is commemorated in Hastings by a blue plaque. Students could look for other commemorative signs of historical figures in their local area such as street names or local buildings named after people. Can they discover anything about the lives of the people?

Curriculum Notes

This clip is suitable for teaching History at KS2 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and at National 2 Level in Scotland.

More from History Hunt:

An investigation into the life and work of Thomas Andrews
How to use archives
How to interview people
How to research archive pictures
How to research film archives
How to research newspapers