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Humanities - In the spotlight

Dramatic backdrop to the British Isles

Dramatic backdrop to the British Isles

How did Britain ever become a united nation when battles to defend divisions went on for centuries? This is an interesting debate for the classroom and there are various ways to illustrate the nation's wars, royal marriages and how England, Scotland and Ireland evolved.

A useful way to begin is to use a play script shared by Tafkam which can be adapted for the classroom. There are enough cast members for an average-size class - 26. Any remaining students can be given tasks such as director or stage manager. Once the pupils have performed the play, the teacher can explore the characters and their meaning in relation to the story of the nation. You can adapt it according to your needs - or the abilities of your students.

Then there are excellent resources which give us an insight into Anglo- Scottish relations during the Tudor period, including a memory exercise shared by Annajordan that introduces us to Mary Queen of Scots and builds knowledge through its careful structure. A murder-mystery exercise on Mary can help consolidate knowledge of this controversial period of British history.

You could end your exploration of the history of the British Isles with an extended writing task about the Act of Union from the Parliament Education Service. As a plenary, bring the argument up to date and debate the usefulness of being part of a union in the 21st century.

Dan Hartley is head of history and religious studies at a Devon comprehensive.

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