Lesson video

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Hello, I'm Mr Olivey And today I'm going to be teaching you about Nineteenth century britain.

Now in order to be ready for our lesson, I do need you to get two things.

Can you make sure you've got a pen and some paper.

If you haven't got those pause the video now and go and get them.


Second thing, can you make sure you're in a reasonably quiet space, like the room I'm in, to do some really focused work.

Now the book I've been reading today is this one, about politics in the nineteenth century.

Because the story of our lesson today, is all about changes to the law and how those changed peoples working conditions.

I can't wait to tell you this story, so let's get started.

This is lesson two of a four lesson Enquiry, and the title of today's lesson is Changing labour laws.

Enquiry of question remains, how far did working conditions improve during the nineteenth century? On last lesson, we learnt the story of what working conditions were like at the beginning of the nineteenth century in 1800.

We learnt about the story of child labourers who would work in dangerous conditions, like trappers and thrusters to work in coal mines underground.

And we're learning about this to answer our enquiry question which remains, How far did working conditions improve during the nineteenth century? Now this lesson we're going to take that story on and add a new element by looking at the kind of laws that governments passed related to working conditions.

But first we just need to jump back and recap the story from last lesson, and there will be a question at the end of it.

So, the story began then with child labourers, and we looked at the kind of awful work that many people had to do in coal mines underground.

And we contrasted the beautiful countryside work that William Blake thought ordinary people did with the harsh work brought about by the industrial revolution.

Now obviously Blake perhaps exaggerated, because in reality the countryside also was a very hard place to live.

But this was how many people perceived the changes that were taking place.

It did not like the industrial revolution.

And we learnt about the industrial revolution itself when we saw that it transformed Britain from being a very pastoral place where most has worked in the countryside, to a very urban place where most people lived and worked in towns and cities in factories.

We looked at the actual statistics related to this industrial revolution, and we saw that the population of England boomed from around just under 6 million in 1750, to over 21 million by 1871.

And we saw how people shifted from living in the countryside to living in the towns.

Then finally we thought about some of the causes of this industrial revolution.

The fact that new technology created agricultural revolution in the eighteenth century.

The fact that Britain had abundance supplies of coal, which you could use to burn in factories and houses.

The fact that there were all kinds of inventions and innovations taking place during the industrial revolution.

And the fact that Britain had an empire and participated in the slave trade, which made Britain a very wealthy country.

And some of this wealth was reinvested in industry.

So that's the story we've got so far.

And just to recap that and check you've understood it.

Could you find which of these has not been identified as a cause of the industrial revolution? Pause the video now and pick the one that has not been identified as a cause for the industrial revolution.

Okay, let's find out the answer.

So it's the invention of the motorcar.

Cars were invented, or the first motorcar was invented very sort of, right at the end of the industrial revolution into the 1850's early 60's I believe.

And it certainly did not cause the industrial revolution, at all.

But the agricultural revolution, the empire and the slave trade, and the large deposits of coal in the North of England virtually all did combine to play a role in created this industrial revolution that transformed Britain.

That's how far we got with our enquiry.

But now we need to take things a bit further and find out about how these working conditions changed over the nineteenth century.

Did they improve? Did they get worse? Did they stay the same? How did they change? And to be able to answer those questions, we actually need to know, well, who were the people that were working in the factories? You know, who's working conditions were changing? And to be able to answer that we need to answer this question of, who were the working class? Please could you pause the video and just write that title down, because it will come in really important this term.

Working class, various points in the lesson.

Okay, let's find out.

So, in the nineteenth century, many people believed that Britain was organised by something called the class system.

Which is where people were grouped into different social classes based on their family background, their income, based on the jobs they did, and the kind of education they had.

And this very famous illustration is of something called The Great British Bee Hive, by George Cruikshank.

And what he's done is he's represented Britain as like a Bee hive, where everyone has a different role, a different rank, a different sort of level of importance.

Now obviously because it's a cartoon, it's not a perfect representation of the reality of the class system.

But none the less, I think it's quite useful for showing the different things people did.

Now at the very top of the class system there, with the upper class, these were people whose family owned land, who maybe worked in politics and they were incredibly important people.

They were seen as the richer people, the most intelligent people, the people at the very top of society.

And it's very hard to become upper class, you had to be born into wealthy families to have that status.

And then there was the middle class.

Now this was people who basically worked in things that were called the respectable professions.

So, if you were a teacher, a writer, a chemist, a inventor, bookseller.

You would have been middle class.

And on this bottom row here, some of these jobs certainly are not middle class, but a few of them might be.

So, if you ran a bakery, or a tea dealer, you might be considered lower middle class.

You know, you may not have the status of a teacher or an inventor but you are still seen as quite an important person in nineteenth century Britain.

Then finally, at the very bottom, there was the working class.

Now, this would have been most people in nineteenth century Britain.

They would have done very hard manual labour.

Like laying bricks, working with stone at the mason.

Working as a dustman, as a sweep, as a coal heaver, as a cab man, as a paver.

All these very difficult physically demanding jobs.

And that was essentially the class system.

Now people in the nineteenth century, and historians today can't and couldn't really agree on what made someone working class or middle class, because obviously these groupings are quite vague and broad.

But the point was that many people believed that these classes existed and they believed that they were important.

And evidence for this crops up in all kinds of unusual places.

Some of you might remember this song from Primary school.

It's the kind of thing people often sing.

It's called, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and it's by Cecil Alexander in a book, Hymns for Little Children.

Now I'm just going to sing it for you.

So this is the verse that pretty much everyone knows.

And it goes like this.

Ah, what a lovely song, and a beautiful rendition by me.

So yeah, that's the verse that most people know and it's nice it's all about, how god made loads of creatures and made everything that's beautiful, what a lovely thing.

Now the verse that you probably won't have sung at Primary school is the infamous second verse.

Now this has been cut out of most modern versions of the song because it's seen as quite unpleasant and nasty.

But I'm going to sing it to you anyway.

Oh god what a horrible song.

Why would Cecil Alexander say such a thing? Well, Cecil Alexander would say that god made people rich and god made people poor, and put them there and told them to stay there.

Because the belief was that the class system, was put in place by god.

It was a natural order, it wasn't something that just randomly appeared because of the industrial revolution.

People said no, it's the way things should be.

You can see that if you're at the bottom of this system, if you're, say, a sweep and living in poverty, there's not really much opportunity for you to advance or improve your condition because people say that well, gods put you there, so stay there.

Class system is something that were going to come across again in a few lessons time, and its very important and make sure you're really secure on that idea.

If you were confused by any of that go back and re watch that bit of video.

If not, can you answer this question? Pause the video now and pick the right answer.

And of course, the answer is working class.

Most people were working class, roughly about 80% of people I would say.

Very debatable what that figure should be though.

Very few people were upper class, and slightly more people were middle class.

And obviously there was no such thing as Bee class.

I've just put that there because Cruikshank described Britain as a like a great British bee hive.

Okay, well done for getting that one right if you did.

So now then, if we come back to our enquiry question, we know what we're really talking about with this question is working class people.

Because we're talking about the working conditions faced by working class people during the nineteenth century.

So that's why I've done that little diversion there.

But if we come in back to this idea of working conditions changing, we need to look at how the law related to working conditions changed.

That's why we're going to look at changing labour laws.

Please pause the video and write that title down.

Good, so, this is not a particularly exciting slide but it's and important slide.

So, over the nineteenth century all kinds of laws were passed to do with what kinds of work people could do and what kind of conditions they have to do it in.

Some of these acts were very successful, but some were not.

Because not all of the laws that were passed changing working conditions were enforced properly.

Sometimes they were just ignored by factory owners, and they didn't really improve peoples lives at all.

So, take for example, pick one of these out, things like the factory act said that people had to do a maximum of 12 hours a day, and they couldn't work any longer there.

They said no child under the age of 9 was to work.

But the act wasn't enforced.

So we look at that column where I've put success, I'd probably put a big fat no in there.

Because its not successful, because it's not been enforced.

Now, what I'd like you to do is pause the video.

Read each of these boxes and decide whether the act was successful or not based on the fact that it was actually enforced, it actually effected peoples lives.

So read the boxes, decide whether it has effect or not and then un pause the video to find out if you were right.

Okay let's find out if these acts were successful.

The first one was not successful because it wasn't enforced.

The factory act was enforced reasonably well and did reduce the amount of time people could work and it also banned children younger than nine from working in factories.

Again, the mines act as also pretty successful because it reduced children under ten working in mines.

And the factory and workshop act was also successful however the ten hours act didn't work because it wasn't enforced.

Like the factory act 1819.

So what we can see from that there, is not all acts passed by the governments, not all law changes actually improved working conditions.

The story is more complicated than that.

Now, well done if you got those right.

So, just pause the video, and answer this question.

Pause the video now and pick the right option.

Okay, time for the answer.

The answer is because some acts have no inspector to enforce them.

Not because no one in the government cared about working class.

Nor is it because most workers could not read the act, or the act got lost in the post.

You know, some people in the government did genuinely want to improve working conditions.

Many workers did actually could read, certainly by the end of the nineteenth century.

And it's not because acts got lost in the post because that's not how acts worked.

It's simply because some of these acts were not enforced properly because there was no inspector to check factory workers, factory owners even were obeying them.

Okay, to come back to our enquiry then.

We can see that the law relating to working conditions is improving, or it seems like it's improving.

Young children are being stopped from working in dangerous conditions, peoples hours are being limited, they're trying to make factories safer, so it seems we can all go home, stop watching these videos because we've answered it.

We're ready to answer the enquiry question now.

However, the reality is a bit more complicated.

And to understand why, we need to just look at one more thing.

The Whig government's reforms. That's important now to write that down.

Okay, now the Whig's were a political party in the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

They were not people who wore wigs.

They were just one of the political parties.

There were two then, there were the Whig's and the Tories.

The Whig's no longer exist, the Tories kind of changes an awful lot, and are sort of still exist in today's modern conservative party.

Although a great deal has changed since then.

What the Whig's wanted to do was they were people from the upper class, and they wanted to change all kinds of things they thought was broken and corrupt and rotten about England.

Here there's a cartoon of the Whig's being shown with axes trying to chop down something called the rotten borough system in nineteenth century Britain.

One of them has got an Axe that says reform.

One says Reform, reform the laws.

One just says bum chopper.

I don't really know why that axe says that.

And this is who the Whig's were.

They were people who were upper class aristocrats and they wanted to change Britain.

They wanted to make it better.

They came from the upper class and a lot of their laws they passed effected the working class, the people at the bottom of society, the majority.

And while it may seem the act they were passing were trying to make life better, that wasn't always what happened.

In fact sometimes they made it worse.

And one of the most famous things that the Whig's did, they passed the Great Reform Act in 1832.

And this changed who could elect MP's, politicians.

Gave lots of middle class people like lawyers and shopkeepers the vote.

For most workers could still not vote after 1832.

So actually, this reform that they made had not made working class peoples lives better, it's not really changed them at all.

Then we can look at something called the factory act.

Now this banned people younger than nine from working in factories, which seemed like a good thing.

But many poor families were made even poorer by the factory act.

It prevented their youngest children from earning money.

So actually, the Whig's hadn't really thought this through because they banned children from working in factories, they though we're doing a good thing here for the working class.

But the reality was that peoples children were only working in factories because they were so poor and so desperate that they needed money.

And without that income, many families started to starve.

They became even poorer.

Perhaps the most unpopular the Whig's did, was they reformed something called the poor law.

Now the poor law was essentially a system where people were given food and help in their local parish, in their local community.

But the people who did the poor law thought that this was making the poor lazy, and sort of greedy.

So what they did was they said that under the new poor law, people had to go to a work house if they wanted help.

And work houses were deliberately designed to be like prison, where people did horrible work, families were split up, you know.

Fathers from their children.

Husbands from their wives, mothers from their daughters.

And it was just horrible, cruel treatment to people if their poor.

There was a belief that many poor were actually undeserving of help and they need to be punished to encourage them to stop being lazy.

So even though it seemed that things were getting better, from what working conditions were like in the nineteenth century, perhaps it's more complicated that actually looking at acts passed by the government.

Because as we see what kind of changes the Whig's brought about, in reality some of these changes actually made peoples lives worse.

Pause this video now and chose the right options.

Okay, they were unpopular two reasons, they were unpopular because of the Great Reform Act hadn't given them the vote, and many of these people actually wanted a say in politics and how the country was run.

The other reason was they were unpopular was because the new poor law forced the poor to go into horrific workhouses, where they were treated very badly.

It's not because ordinary people didn't want to wear wigs all day, the Whig's reform had nothing to do with wigs you wear on your head.

And it wasn't the case that the Whig's only passed law for upper class people.

Their laws certainly effected working class people they didn't necessarily make their lives better.

So we come back to our enquiry, once again.

How far did working conditions improve during the nineteenth century? Well we've seen that the laws certainly seems like it's improving, but actually that didn't necessarily correspond to working peoples lives and conditions getting better.

More complicated than that.

The story that we actually need to look at what working people themselves actually said if we're really going to understand it.

Now what I'd like you to do is pause the video, read the slides on the next page and answer the comprehension questions, and resume the video once you're finished.

Okay, let's go through the answers.

So we've now reached the end of lesson two.

And we can now see that from what working conditions were like at the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were certainly changed to the law, to trying to make things like this picture stop happening.

However, in reality these laws did not always make working peoples lives better.

In fact, sometimes they made them worse.

So to really be able to answer our enquiry question, we need to actually look at what working people themselves said and did about their condition.

How did the react to their world and the changes that were taken place in it? And that is exactly what were going to do in lessons three and lessons four.

We've now reached the end of the lesson, well done for all your hard work.

Well done for everything you've achieved today I can't wait to teach you next lesson about popular protests in the beginning of the nineteenth century, one of my favourite period of study of all.

Okay that's all from me for now, goodbye until next time.