History KS2: Edward Jenner

Edward Jenner tells the story of his life and how he discovered how to vaccinate people against smallpox.

Told in the first person, and brought to life with a mix of drama, movement, music and animation, the story begins when Jenner was a boy.

There was an outbreak of smallpox in the town where he lived.

He was curious, and had to see for himself what someone with smallpox looked like - it was a frightening sight.

More frightening still, however, was that the only known cure was to infect a person with smallpox before they caught it, in the hope that they would recover and not catch it again.

So at the age of eight Jenner was given smallpox, deliberately.

The experience had a huge impact on him and he vowed to find a way to beat the disease.

He went on to develop a vaccine for smallpox, which would ultimately save millions of lives.

This clips is from the series True Stories.

Please note: This short film contains some scenes that pupils might find upsetting. Teacher review is recommended prior to use in class.

Teacher Notes

You could get your class to compare Jenner's discovery of smallpox vaccination with other 18th and 19th century medical advances.

Pupils could make fact files, giving the name, date, symptoms, prevalence of the disease, survival rates before and after the new treatment and also an outline of the way the advance was made.

For example, was it accidental and sudden, or a result of experimentation and gradual realisation?

Curriculum Notes

This short film might be useful for teaching history at KS2 or older in England, Northern Ireland and Wales and at Second Level or older in Scotland.

More from True Stories:

Elizabeth Fry
Grace Darling
Rosa Parks
Thomas Barnardo
Alexander Graham Bell
Florence Nightingale
Harriet Tubman
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Mary Anning

External learning-related websites: