Case Study: Effectively using the census in the classroom

Primary History case study

By Alf Wilkinson, published 11th December 2012

Effectively using the census in the classroom

The British government introduced the census in 1801 to count every man, woman and child in the UK. The Census has been repeated, with increasing detail, every 10 years, with the exception of 1941, since then. This gives us an amazing insight into Victorian and Edwardian life. But how can we use this mass of information effectively in the classroom? Below is one of many possible approaches.

A classroom census

Carry out your own classroom census. Let your pupils work out for themselves which questions to ask, taking care to avoid intrusion into some pupils' family backgrounds:

  • What do they want to find out?
  • How old they are?
  • How many brothers and sisters they have?
  • Where were they were born?

Pupil questioning helps pupils understand where the data comes from, and that what answers you get depends on what questions you ask...

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