Freedom and political rights – teaching Magna Carta in Croydon Schools

‘What medieval historian’s heart did not thrill

to yesterday’s news that every primary school in England

will be sent a copy of Magna Carta, together with

interpretative guides which show English history

(indeed apparently global history) over the last

800 years as “a fight for freedom and rights”? 

– Charles West, a senior lecturer in medieval history at Sheffield University

West outlines some interesting lesson plans designed:

  • to teach children that the concept of political representation and election actually pre-dates Magna Carta.
  • to create a new version of a 10thC teaching role-play text, with updated vocations, to discuss the extent to which political liberty requires progressive economic policies to be meaningful.
  • to turn a 12thC text in which a London working man bursts out into criticism of the clergy, into a classroom game by replacing the word ‘clerics’ with more modern career paths, building in some careers advice to prepare students for the modern globalised “world of work”?
  • to using the Declaration of Abroath (Scotland 1320) as a springboard to discuss the representation of the SNP and the European Union in the pre-election English media, and whether ‘liberty’ is a distinctively English historical theme.
  • to use the speech of the radical preacher John Ball, in 1381, in the heat of the Peasants’ Revolt, to think that policies would John Ball put in his manifesto about  if he were standing for election in May.

For full details see West’s posting on

Will these interesting suggestions be taken up in Croydon Schools?

About seancreighton1947

I have lived in Norbury since July 2011. I blog on Croydon, Norbury and history events,news and issues. I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I have submitted views to Council Committees and gave evidence against the Whitgift Centre CPO and to the Local Plan Inquiry. I am a member of Norbury Village Residents Association and Chair of Norbury Community Land Trust, and represent both on the Love Norbury community organisations partnership Committee. I used to write for the former web/print Croydon Citizen. I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics history database. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour, radical and suffrage movements, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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