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Victorian Crime and Punishment
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KS4 Teacher Notes

Teachers Notes

Throughout the Crime and Punishment course pupils are asked to investigate how types of crime have changed. In these exercises pupils can use the database for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon to investigate a variety of issues surrounding crime and punishment in the 19th century. They can then compare their findings to their prior knowledge and to patterns for Britain as a whole. Whilst some of these exercises could be used as an introduction to 19th century crime and punishment pupils would probably benefit from at least some prior knowledge. There is plenty of scope to use individual cases as stimulus in the course before using the database with the pupils.

Warm up questions
When pupils first visit the database it may be worth giving them some time to browse the database and then to pose simple warm up questions to ensure they know how to use the database and can begin to see its uses and limitations. A series of warm up questions have been provided (with the answers in brackets) but of course you probably wouldn’t use all the questions and may well ask very different questions.

Types of crime
The Crime and Punishment GCSE course asks pupils to look at change and continuity in crime and punishment over time. This set of activities helps pupils to look at whether there was more change or continuity between the periods and why and how much change there was throughout the period.

A teacher led introduction to the first activity would be beneficial, asking pupils to recap on the types of crime they have come across in the different periods – the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, Early Modern Britain and 19th century. They can then use the database to see whether the pattern in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon matches the pattern they have seen from the textbook for the 19th century and whether or not there was more change or continuity from previous periods.
Task 5 asks students to look at a national trend and investigate whether or not the local database supports this. They then have to look at whether micro history helps or confuses the historian. Class discussion on this issue will probably be beneficial.

Task 6 begins to get pupils to think about reasons for the crimes in a very simple way – pupils look at food prices using Rostow’s Social Tension chart and political unrest. You may decide to adapt the chart for political unrest and simply get pupils to find the dates rather than looking at reasons and methods of protest. Pupils may want to go on from this and investigate whether other factors have an impact on the figures for offences in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdon.

The final task asks pupils to come up with their own hypotheses to test; some students may need more guidance than others here. However getting pupils to pose their own questions of a database is a very valuable exercise and helps them to think about the limitations of databases for historical research.

The tasks in this section ask pupils to look for examples of change and continuity in punishment in the 19th century. In the first 6 tasks they are testing hypotheses from historians about the changing nature of punishments. In task 7 they are asked to create a podcast to help other students to revise 19th century prisons. This activity is probably best done in moviemaker as then pupils can use pictures from the website as well as their voices to explain the key ideas. By getting pupils to make their own podcasts they can assess each others and then use them for their own revision. You might set a challenge that the best ones will be put on the school website so all GCSE pupils in the school can access them. All the information pupils need for this activity is on the website under ‘gaols’. Some pupils may need help in selecting the most relevant information to make a snappy but useful podcast.

Women and Crime
These tasks encourage pupils to look at whether or not women were treated in the same way as men in the criminal justice system. Whole class discussion for the final question will undoubtedly yield better thinking than individual work, as this is quite a tricky question.

Young Offenders
These tasks encourage pupils to look at some of the issues surrounding child offenders. The case study on Henry Catlin would also be a good resource to use in this topic area. Some of the questions posed here are hard to answer – this will hopefully lead to questions being raised by pupils about how useful the database is to historians studying crime and young people in the 19th century. The final task allows pupils to bring together what they have discovered about child offenders.

19th Century Justice
This task is designed to provide an overview of key issues of 19th century crime and punishment. Pupils are required to use their own knowledge plus the website and database to create a useful summary of the issues. As well as selecting the information they want to put on their website they need to think about how it should be presented. Using a quiz at the end helps to ensure students have really recalled the key information.

Historical Enquiry
This section is designed to get the students to analyse how useful the database is for historians studying crime and punishment. Once they have identified issues they can suggest ways to change or extend the database to overcome the problems. This helps pupils to see that the database has its limitations and that any historical enquiry needs more than one source of information. A final issue that the teacher could address here is the use of micro history in the study of crime and punishment. Ask pupils to identify the pros and cons of using data from one area in their historical enquiry. Did they find anomalies with general trends? Does this mean micro history is useful or useless? Why? Would they look to use micro history again?

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