History KS3: Suffrage

An animation for KS3 students about the struggle for full adult suffrage in the United Kingdom.

After defining the term ‘suffrage’ and what it means in contemporary Britain, the film outlines the historical restrictions on the right to vote. It then touches on some of the struggles that took place in the 19th century in the fight for ‘one man, one vote’, and the extension of the vote to property-owning men. The film goes on to talk about the extension of suffrage in Britain in the early 20th century, following the social and political upheaval of World War One, culminating in universal suffrage for all adults over 21 in 1928.

Illustrative examples are chosen from popular schemes of learning, so learners will be able to confidently apply their knowledge and appreciate the dynamic nature of the concept being explained. This short film could be used to support learners who are investigating:

  • Ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745-1901
  • Britain as the first industrial nation – the impact on society
  • Party politics, extension of the franchise and social reform
  • Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • Women’s suffrage

Teacher Notes

This short film can be used for whole class direct instruction or with smaller groups and individuals.

Since the film is designed to help clarify the general meaning of suffrage, it can be used as a flexible tool to help learners make connections and think about changes and causation leading to similarity and difference with other social and political systems in various parts of the world.

It can be revisited throughout the key stage depending upon learners’ differing needs and starting points, to help reinforce understanding of the umbrella term, consolidate knowledge and understanding and aid progression.

The accompanying film in this series on Government might also be helpful to students wishing to extend their knowledge.

Suggested activities
Individually or in groups, students could predict the film content in advance, drawing up a key word list and, whilst watching, cross check what they thought would come up with what they learned. This could help correct any preconceptions, assumptions or misconceptions.

Students could be encouraged to draw a timeline or diagram to represent their understanding of suffrage in its widest sense and the changes that took place at different stages along the way to universal suffrage in Britain.

Students could initially watch the film and then later ‘write the script’ or provide a voice over, recalling information from memory by way of retrieval practice. This could take a storyboard format.

Students could actively watch whilst answering a series of questions generated by the teacher that have been tailored to the subject being studied.

Students could take part in a plus/minus/interesting activity, and thereafter be encouraged to produce a piece of extended writing or an audio broadcast, making the case for or against suffrage. This could take the form of a letter to Parliament.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is relevant for teaching history at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and 3rd Level in Scotland.

More from this series: