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Use this lesson plan and associated sources, including two re-enacted speeches, to support your students to develop historical research, analysis and presentation skills.
Students will answer key questions about the role of Parliament in the outbreak of WWI:
What was the House of Commons’ role in Britain entering WWI?
What were the causes of WWI?
Why did Britain enter the war?

  • Sir Edward Grey’s speech on the eve of war can be viewed in the video above.
  • Then take a look at Ramsay MacDonald’s response opposing Britain joining the war.

Supporting lesson plan and source pack, along with transcripts of both speeches, can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. Full transcripts can be found through Hansard.

Ideal for WWI commemorations 2014 – 2018.

Time required: 2 x 1 hour lessons (can be extended if required)

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand different contemporary arguments for and against Britain entering WWI in 1914
  • Explore the role of Parliament (specifically the House of Commons) during Britain’s entry into WWI
  • Learn and try different methods of historical enquiry
  • Understand how different types of historical sources can be used to make historical claims
  • Pursue historically valid enquiries and create relevant, structured and evidentially supported accounts in response
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change
  • Gain and deploy a historically grounded understanding of abstract terms
  • Understand the connections between national and international history


Transcript of Edward Grey speech

Transcript of Edward Grey speech

Download script.

pdf file - 1.12 MB

Transcript of Ramsay MacDonald speech

Transcript of Ramsay MacDonald speech

Download script.

pdf file - 845 KB

WW1 source pack

WW1 source pack

Download lesson plan and sources to use in the classroom.

pdf file - 2.39 MB

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Houses of History timeline - all themes


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