History GCSE / National 5: Women at Work in WW1

Jeremy Paxman visits the Royal Gunpowder Mills in Essex to tell us about the million women employed in making munitions, and the dangers they faced from explosions and exposure to chemicals.

We hear about the huge increase in quantity and speed of production as a result. The focus is on the key role of women in the British war effort.

We see archive footage of the millions of British women who entered the workforce during the First World War, taking part in a social revolution by making munitions and replacing absent men in their jobs. We hear about the huge demand for workers to make the munitions being rapidly used up in this new industrial war.

When David Lloyd George became Minister for Munitions in May 1915, he decided to recruit huge numbers of women to make up the shortfall. We see photos and archive footage of women working in factories, fields, as bus conductors and firefighters.

Teacher Notes

KS3 Use as a starter and example for a research project into local history featuring women in WW1. Draft two speeches by David Lloyd-George, first in 1914 trying to encourage women to work then another in 1918 celebrating their contribution.

KS4 GCSE/ National 5/Higher Use as part of a discussion about the greatest consequence of women in the work-place. Was it the social impact or the help towards victory that was the most significant?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and OCR, Edexcel, AQA and WJEC/Eduqas GCSE/KS4 in England and Wales and CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland. It also appears in National 5 and Higher in Scotland.

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