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Social welfare from a time before the dole

From the Cradle to the Grave: Social Welfare in Britain 1890s-1951 by Simon Wood and Claire Wood Hodder and Stoughton, pound;8.99

Once more, Hodder and Stoughton is to be congratulated for providing such a worthwhile addition to the history teacher's Intermediate resources.

Following the familiar format of this excellent series, the book provides a statement of the learning outcomes at the start of each chapter, a lively, well laid out text suitably illustrated with primary and secondary sources, a treasure of illustrative material and comprehensive diagrams and each chapter concludes with questions for Intermediate 1 and 2.

The approach is chronological and leads the reader through the main social welfare events and characters of the 1890s-1951. An overview of Britain at the end of the Victorian period, analysis of systems of welfare relief and the impact of the Booth and Rowntree investigations are included.

The period of Liberal reforms is comprehensively covered and the impact of the Second World War and post-war Labour reforms are also well addressed, with a balance sheet of pros and cons. One criticism is that more space could have been devoted to the inter-war period. However, over 110 pages the authors have managed to give the essential points of this complicated period in British history.

Worth particular note is the inclusion of a chapter summary to provide quick referencing. There is also advice on the preparation for internal and external assessments and for extended writing.

The language is appropriate to this level, though rather more suited to Intermediate 2 than 1. The glossary, while adequate, could have included a few more definitions, to help Intermediate 1 pupils, but this is a minor concern.

While many of the 21 chapters contain a timeline, an overall timeline would have provided a quick reference to the sequence of events through the period.

Overall, this is a book well worth investing in as it could be used as a supplementary text for Higher as well as a dedicated text for the Intermediate course.

Jim McGonigle is principal teacher of history at Hermitage Academy

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