Lesson video

In progress...


Hello, I'm Mrs. Haynes.

And today I'm going to teach you a citizenship lesson.

Right, let's just have another look at that starter slide for a moment.

So this topic that I'm teaching at the moment is all about the nature of the British constitution.

And this is the third lesson in that series.

And today we're going to be doing that question there.

Should the constitution remain uncodified, okay? So make sure that you've got everything that you need, make sure you've got some paper and something to write with, and that you're somewhere nice and quiet without too many distractions, all right? Let's get started then.

So in our lesson today, we're going to cover four different sections.

That's what you can see there.

I'm just going to go through them with you.

Firstly, we're going to look at an explanation of what is meant by a constitution, then we're going to have a brief identification of some historical developments that define how our country is run today.

Then thirdly, we're going to have an explanation of the term uncodified, which includes identification of countries that have codified constitutions.

And then finally, we're going to have a consideration of the future of our uncodified constitution to include political calls for change.

So just so that you know roughly where our lesson is heading today.

So let's take the first one of those.

An explanation of what is meant by a constitution.

So I'd like you just to think for a minute what is meant by a constitution? It's probably a word you've heard of several times before.

But what does it mean? So I've tried to give you a bit of a clue here.

And I've given you several images there, on the right hand side, we've got some sort of legal wigs, we've got a crown, and we've got images inside the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

And I want you to think about the fact, my little clue there, about the fact that previous lessons in this sequence have considered how the House of Commons is configured, so laid out and what procedures are followed in the Houses of Parliament.

So just try and think how would you explain to somebody what is meant by the constitution, it must have something to do with all of that, mustn't it? Just pause for a moment and just have a think about that.

Okay, now, this is how I would explain the constitution to somebody, I think I would say, a constitution is all the guidelines and rules about how it country is governed, okay, about how our country is run.

All right, so it might be a good idea just to pause there for a moment and make a note of what is meant by the word constitution.

So moving on, I'd like us to think about where do the rules about how our country is run come from, okay.

So again, I've got a bit of a clue here to help your thinking.

How has the reduction of the power of the monarch occurred over time? So what changes have happened? What was signed in 1215? Am sure, you know that one.

And what happened to Charles the first, after the civil wars in England, you may or you may not know that one.

But just think to yourself, where of all our rules come from, for how our country is run.

And why am I giving you those kinds of clues? Right.

So you're probably thinking, well, probably the way in which our country is run today has kind of developed over time.

And that some of those events that have happened must have shaped the way our country is run today.

So we're going to have a look at some information now about what's happened in the past.

And also obviously, if you'll answer those two questions just to see if you were on the right lines.

So the next section of our lesson is a brief identification of some historical developments that define how our country is run today.

Now, I'm going to ask you a few little questions on the history that I'm about to cover, okay.

So pay quite close attention now to this.

Remember as well, if you want to pause the screen at any time just to make a note of something, you know you can do that.

All right.

So, where do the rules about how our country is run come from? The Magna Carta, was signed in 1215.

You knew that one didn't you? You got that right, I'm sure.

By King John, include the introduction of a council of nobleman to be consulted by the monarch on all decisions.

It also confirmed our right to a fair trial.

The beheading of Charles the first in 1649, after the English Civil Wars, marks another milestone in the reduction of the influence of the monarch.

Despite the monarchy being restored with Charles the second Parliament had gained solid ground in the march to control the country.

And I just put a picture up there for you of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, which was the dog that charter second named after him, and it is said that he always had two or three around his ankles.

Yeah, nice, okay.

So there's some information about some of the things that have happened in our past that explain how our country is run.

Pause if you need to make a note of any of that, or you'd like to, I'm going to move on with some more.

But, so just continuing in the same heading, the Bill of Rights.

So this is something I've mentioned in a previous lesson as well.

Agreed to by William a third and Mary the second who are the monarchs, in February 1689, lay down further limits on the powers of the monarch and set how certain rights including the requirement for regular parliament's, elections and freedom of speech in parliament.

Our monarchy became constitutional.

We have a constitutional monarch, okay, meaning it does not get involved in the day to day running of the country, and parliament began to make new laws and rules on how our country would be run, okay.

Just an interesting aside, when William and Mary signed that document, it also included some rules on succession, who was going to be the next person on the throne.

And actually at the time, they were much more concerned about that, than they were about the permissions they were giving parliament.

Just funny how, instead of the long run, actually, it's that, the latter of that, the permissions they gave parliament that actually ended up perhaps being more significant, okay.

So, here's a task I'd like you to do.

What three historical events have influenced how our country is run? So you can see I've missed out some letters or numbers in those headings in the green boxes, and then underneath each one of them, I've asked you to do something.

Okay, so that first one on the left hand side there, says explain the role this document played in bringing about the way our country runs itself today? Middle box, explain how this event demonstrated a reduction in the power of the monarchy.

Right hand side box, explain the role this document played in shaping our modern parliament.

So the next slide I'm going to bring up for you says, you know, pause the video now, but I would like you perhaps at this point to make a note of what it is I'm asking you to do.

To see if you can put those headings in.

Even if you don't know what goes in those gaps, just leave the line there.

And then just make a note of what you're being asked to write about each one.

So pause the video just briefly just to do that, so that you're all ready to do the task.

Okay, so I'm assuming you've got that noted down and you're ready now to see if you can answer those questions, okay.

So please pause the video to complete that task and resume once you've finished.

Pause the lesson now.

Right, I'm going to bring up some answers for us now.

So these are the things that we're missing.

We've got Magna Carta, 1215, on the left, then in the middle, the beheading of Charles the first in 1649, on the right to the English Bill of Rights, 1689.

Okay, so then underneath each one, I've tried to answer the task that have been set.

So it said, so this one here says, on the left hand side, I'm going to do first, the Magna Carta.

This document played an important role in bringing about the way the United Kingdom runs itself today, as it was the first time a monarch had been forced to agree to any rights being given to the people, ending absolute power of the throne, so absolute, meaning like complete power of the throne, it ended.

Middle box.

This event demonstrated a reduction in the power of the monarchy, as it saw Charles tried and beheaded after losing the English Civil Wars.

Following the restoration of the monarchy, parliament would be harder to overrule.

We're now on the right hand side, this document shaped our modern parliament by having the monarchs agreement, that parliament had freedom of expression, people could vote for who they wanted to, and parliament's would occur regularly, all right.

So pause the video again, though, if you just want to make a note of any of my answers there.

Just to add to anything, perhaps that you've written down, that would be wise.

Okay, now I'm going to move on.

So, at this point, it's just worth saying, that those were all document quite a long time ago and events quite a long time ago.

There are three further documents, a little bit nearer in time to now, that also should be included when we're considering how we run our country today.

This is the first one of the three.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights known as the UDHR, 1948.

I'm guessing you've probably heard of that a few times before.

This is the significance of it for us here.

For many, the Magna Carta was an inspiration for the UDHR, in the context of forbidding detention without trial, for example, Article nine of the Declaration, the freedom from arrest and imprisonment without reason, echoes clause 39, of the Magna Carta.

So you can see how those old documents are being echoed, are being used by these more modern documents, these international documents, and the UK signed up to 30 articles of this human rights document, okay.

And the other two that I think are relevant are the UK Human Rights Act 1998, and the Equality Act 2010.

So the Human Rights Act recognised in British law, the European Convention on Human Rights, which had been ratified or agreed by the Council of Europe in 1953.

It covers rights such as the freedom of thought, conscience and religion and the right to an education, in addition to rights on participating in elections and fair treatment before the law.

So again, you can see how important that is.

And I always think of this as like you know, you've got these human rights documents, that start off with the United Nations with, you know, over 100, almost 200 countries signing it.

And then you've got Europe, the European countries coming together and then kind of making their own version of it, echoing the United Nations one, and then you've got the UK one that then echoes what the European one said, so brings it into UK law and sort of focuses it and makes it most relevant for our country.

And then you've got in addition to that, at the bottom there, the Equality Act, which further protected UK citizens against discrimination.

So discrimination is sort of described along the grounds of preventing certain sort of protected characteristics from being discriminated against, such as sex, age, disability, ethnicity, etc.

And it's interesting to see how that that document, it's not talking about the nuts and bolts about how a country should be run.

But it's more about the spirit within which it wants our country to be run, to ensure that we don't have discrimination there.

Before I move on, as well as sort of documentation that we've covered there, it's also worth thinking about the fact that the UK is a unification of Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland, and that, and obviously, England, and that actually the, when each of these combinations occurred, there was, it brought with it a host of other documentation.

And that's also factored in, to the way in which our country is run today.

So we've got these different things coming from these different places that all affect how our one country is run today, all these different events through history and time.


Right, so I'd like To think about this now for me, I want you to pause the video and briefly explain why the UDHR, the UK Human Rights Act and the Equality Act have affected the way our country is run today, okay.

So if you can put a very small paragraph together that explains that, and, then we'll go through one with you afterwards.

Okay, pause the lesson now.


This says model answer, but obviously you won't have written it in exactly the same way as I have, but as long as you've got sort of some similarities, then you know, you're on the right track.

Okay, I'm just going to read my one through.

So we know the question, we're briefly explaining why the UDHR, the UK Human Rights Act and the Equality Act have affected the way our country is run.

These two documents have shaped how our country is run.

By signing the UDHR, the UK was agreeing that it wanted to grant certain rights to UK citizens, further establishing equality and removing power from the privileged.

The UK Human Rights Act then embedded the rights of the UDHR into UK law and meant that everyone could use the courts to protect their rights.

This was made even clearer and firmer by the Equality Act.

The country therefore has to be run in a way that enables everyone to be treated with respect and dignity underlining our right to fair trials and free elections.

Okay, so you're very welcome to pause the video again there if you'd like to, to just note down perhaps anything that I included in my answer that you didn't, or maybe just to kind of cross reference what you put with what I've got there, and perhaps, you know, maybe, you know, underlying bits in your answer that seem to cover the same elements as mine.

One thing that's worth spotting is that whenever you get a question that says like this one does here.

You know, explain why, and then it mentions three different things.

You always need to ensure that you cover each of them in your answer, okay.

Try not to just refer to, they do this, try and be specific and pick each one out and comment directly on it.

Okay, just a tip there.

So now we're going to consider, and we're going to try and explain the term uncodified.

And this will include identification of countries that have codified constitutions.

But now, does your school have a code of conduct? I'm guessing it probably does.

And if you're thinking, yes, I think it probably does have a code of conduct.

What does that mean? What is a code of conduct? Just pause for a minute to see if you could think, if you could explain it to me.

Perhaps just saying it out loud, see if you could explain to someone, you know, what a code of conduct is.

Okay, here's my answer.

I've put that a code of conduct is a set of rules about how people should conduct themselves, in other words, how everyone should behave and treat each other, okay.

So these codes of conduct are normally like a single a one document, and they're often found in schools, in clubs, in sports clubs, football, netball, clubs, scouts guides, that sort of thing.

Even Members of Parliament have a code of conduct as well, okay.

So the important thing is the code is a single document.

Okay, remember that for me.

So, the way our country is run is also sometimes written down on one document.

This is then called a codified constitution.

Okay, so can you see the link there, the Code of Conduct was one document explaining how everything should be organised in run, and how people should behave.

So this is how a country should behave and should be run.

If it's on one document, its codified constitution.

I hope that makes sense.

So the US, right, has a codified constitution.

How the country is to be run is written down in one all encompassing document.

And although alterations to the document have occurred over time, it remains the most important single piece of documentation in America's history and its future.

Can you name it? Do you what it is I'm talking about? This something of something.

I bet you know, I bet, you know, and I bet you say it to me now aren't you? Well done, the Bill of Rights, 1791, okay.

If you just want to pause there for a moment to make a note of what it means having a codified constitution, then absolutely do.

A single document.

Okay, so, let's hear more about the US Bill of Rights 1791.

Although 12 amendments were originally proposed, 10 were ratified.

Now that's an interesting word ratified, you hear that quite a bit, and all it means, is given formal consent, so people have said yes, okay, formally do it, ratified and became the Bill of Rights.

They defined citizens rights in relation to the newly established government under the Constitution.

It includes amendment 2 which is the right to bear arms. Tends to be the one that we've probably heard of.

It doesn't mean like, you know, no sleeves, as in bear arms, it means being able to, they have the right to possess a weapon for their own defence, okay, that's part of their Bill of Rights, part of what's written on this single document.

And there on the on the right hand side there in the green box.

I just thought you might like to know that other countries, so, Australia, Chile, China, Denmark, France, Ethiopia, India, and many, many more also have codified constitutions.

Some countries such as Cuba, only ratified their constitution as recently as 2019.

So the vast majority of countries have a codified constitution, their rules about how they're going to do things are written in one document, okay.

So what about the UK? We're not on that list, are we? Right.

The UK has an uncodified constitution.

Our rules about how our country is run come from all different documents that we've been looking at earlier, okay, so it's not just one document for us, it's always different things we've been talking about, when we were having our sort of mini history lesson earlier.

Okay, all of those things have shaped how our country is run today.

It's not in just one simple document, all right.

So I just thought I'd quickly test you, see if you could remember the documents that we've been talking about.

So I'd like you to fill in the gaps with those, with those documents and see if you can put them in the correct date order.

Okay, so the correct chronological order.

Have a go.

If you're not sure, here comes a bit of a clue.

So here, I've put them in the correct order, but I haven't completed all the dates.

See if you, now that I've put them in the right order for you, see if you can add in the dates.

Okay, here comes the answer.

There we go.

So, those are just some of the documents we've mentioned earlier and those are the dates there.

So those are some of the things that have shaped the way our country is run as part of our, in the UK's uncodified constitution.

Now, this is a favourite quite often with examiners, they like us to know, the kind of the pros and cons, the positive elements and negative elements of the UK's uncodified constitution.

So here we have, I've just got a couple of points on each side for you.

So I definitely recommend pausing and making the note of these, you could do it with me, each time that I go through a point, you could then pause and just write that one down or you could wait until the end.

You'll also notice that what I've done, is I have put sort of like the key point in each bullet point in bold.

So if you're sort of pushed for time, you could just write down the bit that's in bold, or you could write all of it if you wanted to, that's up to you, okay.

So we're going to do the positives first, on the left hand side.

Having different documents allows updates to be made to individual documents without one whole document having to be reviewed, okay.

Another positive, is the system is more flexible and allows for a quicker response, such as the introduction of the new anti-terrorism laws after the July 2005 attacks.

Okay, those were able to be done quite quickly because of our uncodified constitution.

Negatives about having an uncodified constitution.

Having many different documents that make up the constitution can make it seem more complicated.

Also, second bullet point on the right hand side, it may take a while longer to identify which part of the Constitution is causing a problem before then being able to find that problem and fix it.


So there's just two, two sides there that is worth you knowing about.

So now we're going to have a consideration of the future of our uncodified constitution and just look at some political calls for change perhaps.

Now, several times, the UK has considered again, whether it would like to have a codified constitution, so the single document.

Now despite not ultimately being agreed, a parliamentary joint committee on human rights, so it included members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, got together, and in 2008, they wrote this.

"We recommend that the Bill of Rights and freedoms" "Should set out a shared vision" "Of a desirable future society" "It should be aspirational in nature" "As well as protecting those human rights" "Which already exist" "We suggest that the Bill of Rights and Freedoms" "Should give a lasting effect to values" "Shared by the people of the United Kingdom" "We include liberty, democracy, fairness, civic duty" "And the rule of law" So you can see, you know, that the appeal of this, sort of bringing together all of those different elements that have come through our history, and have come from the different documents that we have ratified in the past, perhaps all of that could be put into one document.

So even though all of the people on that joint committee ultimately didn't agree that they wanted that to go any further and it stopped there.

It is still an interesting thought.

And I think it's one that will, you know, keep recurring for us.

2019 election, one of the political parties that I've just sort of highlighted here for us called the Libertarian Party, I actually do advocate a modern UK Bill of Rights.

So Adam Brown, who's a party leader of this Libertarian Party in 2019, wrote for their Manifesto.

"As part of our Manifesto, the Libertarian Party" "Is proposing a new written constitution for Britain" Okay, so they appeared on our ballot paper, where we, the piece of paper we voted on in our election, in our constituency for the 2019 general election.

They are yet to win any seats in parliament, but I just wanted to show you that some political parties think this is a good idea, okay.

So we're really into the future.

I'm not sure whether we will end up with an uncodified constitution or not, but I'm sure you've got an idea as well as to what you think about this.

So we're going to use that in our final task today.

So, do you think the UK should continue with an uncodified constitution or update it with a modern Bill of Rights? That's our question.

And I'd like you to do, as it says here below, give two reasons why it should and should not continue with an uncodified constitution before ending with your overall view.

Okay, so I'm imagining two paragraphs probably and then your review as a final paragraph.

So if you feel comfortable doing that now without any further assistance, just pause the screen and go and do that, that will be great.

If you would like to stay with me, I'm just going to give you some ideas now for what you might write on each side of that, either side of the argument, okay.

All right.

So, here we've got each side.

So on the left hand side, the UK should continue having an uncodified constitution because, first bullet point, the constitution the UK has today has developed over hundreds of years and reflects the development of human rights in the UK and the complex union of the four different nations.

The system is flexible, last bullet point on the left, and allows for a quicker response.

And you could hear include perhaps the 2005 new laws we mentioned earlier.

On the other side here, we've got the other side of the argument on the right hand side.

The UK should not continue having an uncodified constitution because it is over complicated.

So you would need to explain that and expand upon that.

And then the second bullet point there on the right, most countries around the world have codified constitutions and a new codify constitution could bring together all the values of the many documents and be a guiding document for future generations and perhaps here you could reference the 2008 parliamentary joint committee, okay.

So that might now be enough for you to go off and see if you can write the two paragraphs, one for each side, and then end with your opinion, okay.

If you're staying with me, what I'm going to do is I'm going to show you an example of how you might end it.

So you've done each side of the argument, you've done it two paragraphs, one saying it, we should continue with a uncodified, one saying we shouldn't.

And then you have to do your opinion bit.

But quite often, this is the bit that you wouldn't expect so, but it is a big term sometimes people find quite tricky, 'cause everyone's got an opinion.

I'm sure you've got an opinion on this.

So it's just sometimes writing that down, putting it into words that can be hard.

So, this is an example of how I might have written my evaluative conclusion here.

Overall, there are several reasons why the UK should or should not remain having an uncodified constitution.

On balance, the argument for keeping an uncodified constitution has the strongest case in my opinion.

This belief is based on the significance of the development of the constitution in the UK, how it has been shaped over so many years flexing to bring together modern ideals and the unification of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Okay, obviously, if your opinion is the opposite to that, then that's absolutely fine.

As long as you justify why you're giving that opinion, then there's no right or wrong with that answer.

It's just more important how you explain yourself.

Okay, right.

We've done loads today, we've covered four different sections that I mentioned at the start of the lesson.

We explained a constitution.

We've talk through the history for how we've got the kind of rules that we have today of how our country is run.

We then try to explain and talk through the concept of what is meant by the term, uncodified, uncodified constitutions.

And then finally, we've considered the future of the uncodified constitution.

So lots there.

So that's really good, really well done staying with that.

You might, if you'd like to do, you might like to share your work with Oak national.

So if you would like, please do ask a parent or carer to share your work on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, make sure that you're tagging the @OakNational and #LearnwithOak.

And that we'd love just to see what you've done.

And before you go, of course, please make sure that you have a go at the exit quiz.

Just got a few questions that I've put there to see if you were paying close attention today, which I know that you were.

So I really hope you enjoyed today's lesson and have a lovely rest of your day.

Bye for now.