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Curriculum - Citizenship - Lesson plan - Crime and punishment

Secondary: Discussing the human and environmental factors that cause people to commit offences can help pupils develop their own views about society and the law

Secondary: Discussing the human and environmental factors that cause people to commit offences can help pupils develop their own views about society and the law


These are the first two in a series of 10 lessons on crime and punishment, using the AQA-endorsed textbook Religious Studies B: Religion and Morality, published by Nelson Thornes. They are aimed at Year 10 pupils.


- All pupils will be able to describe and discuss facts about crime and punishment in England and Wales.

- Many children will be able to discuss and evaluate a range of opinions on crime and punishment.

- Pupils will be able to investigate why people break laws and commit offences.

- Pupils can discuss and evaluate why people become criminals.

Getting started

Start by filling in a table of pupils' preconceived ideas about crime and punishment. Then, in groups, ask them to complete a "fill in the gaps" exercise about crime statistics, writing down what they think are the levels of certain types of offence and punishment. Show them a video clip - - about claims that the Government had manipulated figures on knife crime. This will serve to highlight the controversy that often surrounds statistics. Then provide pupils with the original statistics.

Move on to look at why people commit crimes. Give the pupils some outlines of the human body and ask them to write some "human" reasons for committing crime - such as jealousy - inside the body, and to list some external influences - such as poverty - outside it.

Look at quotes from the Bible. Ask pupils to answer questions on the biblical view of crime and punishment. For homework, ask them to address the proposition: "Human nature makes us commit crimes." Ask them to give reasons for their answers.

Taking it further

In week two, start by asking pupils why someone might commit a crime such as kidnapping a well-known sportsman or celebrity. Define social, psychological and environmental factors and display the definitions of these around the classroom.

Split the class into small groups and assign a cause of crime to each group. Then ask each team to consider why their allotted cause is a more powerful factor than the other two. Bring the groups together to discuss the causes of crime.

For the plenary, ask pupils to summarise what they have heard about the causes of crime and to construct an argument about which they think is the most powerful cause. Do it in Just a Minute style, without hesitating or repeating themselves.

Where to find it

The 10-lesson scheme of work, including textbook references and supplementary resources, is at The original scheme of work was uploaded by lhynnan.


Young Citizen's Passport: England and Wales

Edited by Tony Thorpe

Hodder Education

ISBN: 978-0340990476

#163;5.99 (Discounts for bulk orders)

An A6-sized guide providing explanations of those parts of the law most relevant to young people. Aimed at teenagers, with separate editions for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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