Lesson 2 – Why did Manchester need a railway?


Before the lesson starts, divide the group into 4. Each person in that group should be given a letter a-d. As per page 69 of Re-discovering Britain will be road owners, b’s will be canal owners c’s will be dock owners and d’s will be factory owners.

Starter: What would each person want?

Students first task is to write the heading "What would a ________ want to change or stay the same in the 1820s?" and using the information on pages 68 and 69 of Re-discovering Britain they are given 5 minutes to write a list of things that their character might want to change in respect of transport, or things that they might want to stay the same.  You will have to explain this a couple of times. 

Main (1): Group discussion – How can we improve Liverpool’s transport?

Once settled and registered they are to nove to discussion groups (where there are a, b, c and d representatives) and discuss with their group members (who all have different interests) some different ideas and options for improving transport between Liverpool and Manchester. To scaffold their discussion you could come up with a series of options, and even an advantages / disadvantages table.

At the end of this activity there should be no classfeedback.   

As a transition, announce that a group of people have got together and formed a company, with the idea to build a railway from Manchester to Liverpool (you could play a sound from this page, if you’ve the facilities).

Main (2): Get together and plan a speech

Before you change the class into their "home" pairs / groups of A, B, C and D  Ask them to think of some good criteria for a persuasive speech. You could do straightforward hands up, or a snowball technique. Feedback on the board – worth doing this neatly on an IWB as this will be the criteria you use next lesson.

Then get groups / pairs together and give them their task, which is to plan, write and rehearse a 3 minute speech to persuade Parliament one way or the other when deciding whether to allow the new railway to be built. Students can use 68 to 72 of Re-discovering Britain. for information.

Plenary: Are we on the right track (geddit?!)

Stop the class with about 10-15 minutes to go before the end of the lesson. Ask them to look again at the criteria you agreed for a good persuasive speech (again, much easier on an IWB). In their groups they are to read through what they’ve got so far and decide whether their work follows those criteria, and where it doesn’t, what they can do next lesson to improve. They’re quickly to note down under their work a plan for next lesson.

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