GCSE Britain

BRITAIN 1931-1951

The word document below defines words which may come up in your examination.

Examination Words

Students will study: The Impact of the Depression 1931-39, Britain during World War Two 1939-45 and Labour in Power 1945-51.

This Unit will be examined in Summer 2010. (Retake allowed in January 2011).

General websites for you to use are;

Britain between the World Wars.

An excellent BBC resource for audio clips from the Second World War.

Owen Scott’s website.

The aftermath of the Great War in Britain.

Key Questions

1. What caused unemployment in 1930’s Britain and where were the most severe problems? What were the regional differences?

Unemployment data for the 20th century.

The Depression from Citizendium.

2. What were the government solutions to this unemployment?

Think about the spending cuts, the ‘dole’ and the means test, the Special Areas Act and the Unemployment Act.

Consider what it was like to be unemployed and your standard of living?

3. What were the effects of the Jarrow Crusade? Why did the march take place? Why did the people of Jarrow want their own march? Why was Jarrow hit so hard by unemployment?

Think about the shipbuilding industry and why it declined?

The Jarrow Crusade from the BBC.

An original piece from the Times about the Jarrow Crusade.

4. How important was the Jarrow Crusade?

Use the links above to answer this question.

Did the Jarrow Crusade mean that the British governments failed?

It is easy to say that the government did fail but one needs to look at the the alternatives. The government could try to create jobs and stimulate local economies. However, tax revenues are required usually required to do this. Would a government raise taxes, or create more, to find these monies?

A coursework answer from an economics student about the causes of the Jarrow March.

5. Why were countries reluctant to go to war against Germany?

Think of the failure of appeasement, the invasion of Poland and the actions of Winston Churchill.

6. How did the various countries and societies react to ‘Blitzkrieg’ and its success in 1939-40?

Blitzkrieg and the reactions to it.

You should try to develop an overview of the key battles and how the war changed as a result. The key battles or campaigns would have been;

1939 Invasion of Poland, Phoney War

1940 German invasion of the West, (May/June), Dunkirk, (June), Battle of Britain,(June to August), and the Blitz,(September to May).

1941 German invasion of the USSR, (June),  Battle of Moscow, (December) and Pearl Harbor,(December).

1942 Battle of El Alamein, (August to October), Battle of Stalingrad, (July to February) and the Battle of Midway,


1943 Battle of Kursk, (July – August).

1944 Invasion of Normandy, (June).

1945 Battle of Berlin, (April to May) and the dropping of two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

7. Was Dunkirk important? Why was it a success and a failure? Who made it a success?

Dunkirk from Spartacus.schoolnet.

Memories of Dunkirk from the Daily Telegraph.

More resources are available on the Year 9 page. Students are asked to develop a piece on whether Dunkirk was a success or failure. It is worth considering this when analysing the event for GCSE purposes. Make sure you are aware of Churchill’s speech after Dunkirk in which he utters the words of this blog title.

8. Why was the Battle of Britain so significant?

Audio recollections of the Battle of Britain.

The clips above range from propaganda films, a movie about the Battle of Britain and part of a documentary. They each have their value historically but be analytical when using them as evidence. The clip below is the first part of an episode from the excellent ‘World at War’ series. You can get the remainder from Youtube or can borrow it from Mr. Gagan.

Battle of Britain from the History Learning Site.

The Battle of Britain from the BBC.

9. What were the government preparations for the Second World War and were they effective?

Think of the blackout, air-raid shelters, the Home Guard and how children were evacuated?

10. What were the effects of the Blitz? What were the German aims of the Blitz and what was the civilian reaction in Britain?

Make sure you are aware of the blitz on Coventry as well as that on London.

The Coventry Blitz.

The Blitz from the History Learning Site.

Useful sources from Eyewitness to History.

You should distinguish between the Blitz of September 1940 to May 1941 and that involving V rockets from 1944 to 1945. Use the article below to analyse the effect of the V1 and V2 rockets.

V rockets from Spartacus.schoolnet.

11. How did the government control expand during the Second World War?

Emergency Powers Act.

National Service Act and conscription.

12. How important was the role of women in the Home Front?

A short analysis from ‘History on the Net’.

A detailed analysis from the BBC.

13. How did the Allies defeat Germany?

An analysis from the BBC.

Several teaching activities on the role Britain played in defeating Germany in the Second World War.

Battle of Atlantic game

14. Was Arnhem a success or a failure?

The Battle of Arnhem from the BBC.

Arnhem from the History Learning Site.

15. What were the plans for D-Day and were they a success?

A D-day game.

A comprehensive website devoted to D-Day.

Also, try to view Owen Scott’s website as he has an activity on this.

How is the German clip above different from the British and American newsreels? Do you think the German public believed the news? Did the allied public?

16. Why did the Labour Party come to power in 1945?

The Labour manifesto from 1945.

Summary of the Beveridge Report.

17. What was the NHS and how was it introduced into the country?

NHS from spartacus.schoolnet.


You will gain an understanding of the economic problems in Britain before 1931 with knowledge of the General Strike. Your previous knowledge of Germany after the Great War will also allow you to gain an understanding of Britain’s economic problems. Obviously the effects of the war were not as severe but it certainly was not the ‘Land, fit for heroes’, which was promised. Use the links below to read about the strike.

A detailed explanation of The General Strike of 1926.

The General Strike from BBC Bitesize

GCSE Britain Keywords

National government – Ramsay McDonald’s government of 1932 to 1939 consisted of Conservative, Liberal and Labour politicians. It tried to solve the problems of the Depression in Britain.


Answering source based questions

Your paper on Britain 1931-51 is source-based. Every student will of course receive past papers but it is worth devising questions yourself. You will find out that the style of questions remains the same as indeed does the mark scheme. The knowledge and skills in evidence will ultimately decide your mark. Practice using both on this style of question is a must therefore.

A source analysis podcast


The mnemonic devised for this paper is SIPTARUNOP-BARS. The explanation of this is as follows;

SI – Supported Inference

A cartoon on D-Day. Think about the type of questions Paper 1 would ask you? What is the purpose of the source? How reliable is it? What can you learn from the source? Does it show that D-Day was planned successfully?

The source may infer that ‘The Left’ did not want D-Day to go ahead. The ‘Left’ are stereotypically against war.

PT – Purpose and Type of source

The purpose of the source would be to persuade the target audience that the ‘Left’ are against the war or the invasion. It may have been drawn to inform the target auidience that the ‘Left’ are against a current war being fought. It may also have been drawn to build support for the current war.

The source is a cartoon. It would be targetted at the both the youth and adults. The younger generation would more likely to read cartoons so the source could be aimed at them. However, cartoon are generally meant to be funny so people may want to read them. Consider the alternative. What if there was a persuasive argument written as a newspaper article? How many people will read it?

ARU – Analyse the Reliability or Usefulness of the source. The cartoon does not explain which war the publisher is making reference to.

The following has been taken from Ellen Wilkinson’s book, ‘The Town That Was Murdered’. It was written in 1939, 3 years after the Jarrow Crusade, which she helped organise.

Ellen Wilkinson, the local MP, later wrote that Jarrow at that time was:

‘… utterly stagnant. There was no work. No one had a job except a few railwaymen, officials, the workers in the co-operative stores, and a few workmen who went out of the town… the plain fact [is] that if people have to live and bear and bring up their children in bad houses on too little food, their resistance to disease is lowered and they die before they should.’ (The Town that was Murdered, 1939).

When thinking of the purpose of the source, you should think of both sincere and suspicious motives. Ellen Wilkinson may have written the book to prevent another similar situation occurring again. She may also highlight the fact that there were still social problems in Britain, especially the north-east, and that they need to be addressed. Furthermore, she may be criticising the current government for not doing enough for the people of Jarrow.

Ellen Wilkinson may also have wanted to further her own reputation by writing the book. Perhaps she was thinking of a possible job in a future government? Money may also have been the purpose of the source. As history students, you are not passing a judgment on Ellen Wilkinson herself but a source. Books can be written for entirely sincere purposes but you should analyse all possible options.

ARU – Analyse the Reliability or Usefulness of the source.

Reliability – Basically can you trust the source? Who wrote or made the source? Have they got a reason to be biased? Why was the source made and would it affect the reliability? Does the source agree with your own knowledge? If not then why does it disagree?

Usefulness – How useful is …? You must always write a balanced answer here. It is useful because AND it is not useful because … You may include; what is the important information in the source? Is the source one person’s view or an organisation’s? Is the source useful because of the person who is writing it? Can you trust them? Is the source bias or is it propaganda? If the question covers more then 4 marks then you can also use the examples below.

NOP -analyse the Nature, Origins and Purpose of the source.

BARS – Balanced Argument which analyses the Reliability of the sources and judges whether they are Sufficient to answer the question. You should try to refer to all sources. Develop a judgement on the reliability of each source and use your own knowledge to do this. A simple structure of the essay is as follows;

Introduction – The title suggests that …The sources _, _ and _ agree with this statement whereas sources _, _ and _ disagree.

The sources which agree with the statement are …because …

These sources are reliable because … analyse at least one source

However, they are not reliable because … analyse at least one source

The sources that agree with the statement are … because … analyse at least one source

However, the sources that disagree are …because … analyse at least one source

Overall, the sources agree/ disagree with the statement because … your knowledge may help here when analysing the Sufficiency. What key evidence is missing in order to prove the statement accurate or not?

Examination Papers

June 2010

June 2010 Mark scheme

June 2010 Examiner’s report

January 2011

January 2011 Mark scheme

January 2011 Examiner’s report

June 2011

June 2011 Mark scheme

June 2011 Examiner’s report

January 2012


The Battle of Atlantic.

A D-day game from the BBC.

Various quizzes on the Second World War.

Various crosswords for the Second World War.

  1. Ross says:

    I am struggling to find anything to write about in the essay, i have covered the Jarrow Crusade, The creation of the National Government and why the government woulf find it difficult to raise taxes, but i can’t think of or find any other failures/successes to write about, are there any that you would suggest?

  2. adamkg1915 says:

    In addition to what you have added, comment upon the election successes of the national government. This, despite the economic problems in the country. You should also analyse the political divisions in the country. It may have seemed consensus politics because of the coalition but all parties had some sort of split. If you need more, ask yourself questions about the time period and the Jarrow March. Why 1936? Why did the public generally support the March even though it was critical of the government? Remember that the election success of 1935 illustrated the support of the government. The BBC article is advisable to read but don’t get too carried away with knowledge. The mark scheme refers to analysis more than knowledge.


  3. Yassin says:

    I find these exam papers really useful, but I can’t find the sources…

    • adamkg1915 says:

      Each examination paper has an attachment, which are the sources. Let me know if you have problems.

      With regards to revising source analysis, you are correct in that practising answering the questions and marking yourself is the best solution. However, you can select any source from textbook and create a mind map criticising everything about it. Think about the purpose, reliability, accuracy and historical context. The latter will help you revise your knowledge. What was going on in the war, (1939-45), and the economy, (1931-1939 and 1945-51) when the source was produced/ published.


  4. Yassin says:

    Thanks for replying sir, but I am not sure how to open the attachment, when I click on the attachment button on thge paper it does not open

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