The Magna Carta
by by Gordon Lamont
Suitable for Key Stage 3/4
To tell the story of the Magna Carta and relate this to the idea of democracy.
Preparation and materials
- Have available the short film ‘Stories from Parliament: Magna Carta’ (6.30 minutes) accessible at Parliament’s website, in its Education Service section, and the means to show it during the assembly or tell the story in your own words. The film can be found at: www.parliament.uk/Magnacarta1215 Other resources, including the script and lesson plans, can also be found there.
- This assembly supports the 2014 history and citizenship curriculum.
- Imagine if the Royal family decided that it needed more money, so started to tax people heavily. Imagine that some people resist and their families are taken hostage until they pay up. Imagine some people still resist so their families are imprisoned and starved to death.
It sounds unthinkable, but this was the situation under King John, who ruled England from 1199, but things changed in the year 1215. This short film shows why and how.
Show the ‘Stories from Parliament: Magna Carta’ film.
- Comment on the contrast between then and now, when we have all sorts of democratic bodies to ensure that no one is above the law and the people can change the law by voting.
- Suggest that our democracy is still evolving as new methods of communication give people the ability to band together to get their views across – not just Facebook and Twitter but also campaigning sites such as Change.org and 38 Degrees.
Time for reflection
The power of an absolute monarch was tamed in 1215.
What big changes would you like to see come about and how can you work democratically with others to create a better society?