Enquiry 1: Building the Big Picture
Where, when and why have British Armed Forces served in conflicts overseas?
About this unit Teaching ideas Pupils
• Create a large ‘floor’ map
of conflicts 1066-1900,
colour-coded to show
• Analyse the changes in
conflicts involving British
armed forces across time
in terms of geographical
spread and causes.
• Consolidate knowledge
and understanding by
annotating map and
To develop a chronological
framework of conflicts since
To use prior learning about conflicts since 1066 to place this new knowledge in a
wider historical context.
To present a coherent
overview of past conflicts
using a chronological
framework and appropriate
Understand the changing
locations of Britain’s wars
across time and to suggest
reasons why the locations changed, e.g. in transport
Understand some of the
motives that led to these wars and how these motives
may have changed across time.
Make links between past
and present, identifying
similarities and differences across time.
Explore events from different perspectives. Ask questions to extend their thinking.
Lesson 1: Where, when and why… 1066-1900?
Examine a series of images about conflicts since 1945 involving British armed forces – images of the soldiers in conflict and/or of memorials about those conflicts overseas. What is the connection? What are these images. Set up question: when, where and why have British armed forces fought overseas?
Main activity on overview of conflicts up to 1900 using Dawson’s thinking cards:
Set up ‘map of world’ on floor.
Distribute cards on conflicts 1066-1900. Allow time for students to consider what it says.
Pupils read out cards in chronological order and place by location, before considering the reason and adding a symbol card on top. Begin with Medieval period and allow overview analysis discussion of each ‘period’
What pattern is emerging? How widespread are the wars? Reasons for this? Main causes? Anything surprising/unusual? Use what students already know about the period to help consider the context of these conflicts in discussion.
Repeat: above for each of the three other groups of conflict cards. Consider changes across time in terms of location, scale, enemies, causes, etc. Again, use what students already know about the period to consider the context of these conflicts and help explain the events/changes.
Debrief: Pupils consider the changing geographical spread of Britain’s conflicts, the causes and anything else that emerged (success/failure?).
Conclusion: Pupils record results on world map using the materials on the floor as a resource. Mark on the conflicts in correct locations and add reason symbols to timeline.
See Gerait Brown’s pdf. Then write a page about:
‘Where, when and why British forces have been involved
in conflicts overseas 1066-1900.’
Lesson 2: Where, when and why… 1945-present?:
Show images of the Armed Forces Memorial and ask students to look closely to work out what it might commemorate. Use this and map to explore how much they know about conflicts since WWII. Did you know 16,000 had died SINCE WWII?
Do you know where? When? Why?
Give out conflict cards to students and the map with overview of conflicts on (slide 3). First, place in chronological order,
then compare to previous lesson work by finding out where
the conflicts were using an atlas and then considering the main reason(s) for the conflicts. Feedback and begin to annotate map with key/symbols. Changes since 1900 in place/cause?
Analyse significance: students read the information about an individual conflict from the set and analysing why it might
be considered significant (in their view – see pdf prompts). Annotate text to show ideas about significance. Think back
to previous work on why WWI is considered a Great war
(e.g. Gombrich) as a way into the thinking. Do an example
on the board.
Review conclusions from the two lessons. In answering the
BIG question, students could discuss or write up how conflicts involving British forces have changed since 1066.
The less able can describe differences in location and reason
The more able will provide more sophisticated generalisations and compare the different ‘periods’, moving on to their significance in the present day.
Students will also need to finish by choosing/negotiating
which of the conflicts they wish to research in pairs for the forthcoming project (make sure all the conflicts events
are divided amongst the group).
They will need to begin finding information about the conflict and will continue this for homework over the next two weeks (they will get a ‘researching conflicts since 1945’ sheet next lesson).
You can share the aims of the project – to design a memorial.
I left this until the end of the following lesson, where they
began examining memorials.
• Conflicts 1066 to 1900 by Geraint Brown.
• Large floor space and/or
tables set up for continents
• Ian Dawson’s thinking
cards 1066 - c1900)
• Continent labels.
• Union flag for UK.
• Symbol cards to denote
major (simplified) causes
of the wars - power,
money, religion, freedom.
• Map of conflicts 1945-
• Analysis of conflict’s
• Discuss and analyse
changes in conflicts since
• Conflicts 1945 to Present.
• Conflict cards.
• Researching a conflict