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The legacies of transatlantic slavery, key stage 4

Key facts

  • Suitable for: Key Stage 4
  • Subjects: Citizenship, History, Personal, social, health and economic education, Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural
  • Session type: Museum led
  • Duration: 90 minutes
  • Class size (maximum): 30
  • Venue: International Slavery Museum
  • Free


Students will be given an opportunity to explore the lasting history of transatlantic slavery through a variety of resources including objects, images and written sources. Allowing students to make links between the aftermath of slavery and the world today.

Further details

school children looking at objects from the museum's collection

The legacies of transatlantic slavery are both complex and far-reaching. Transatlantic slavery was responsible for the forced migration of between 12 to 15 million people from Africa to the Americas from the middle of the 15th century to the end of the 19th century.

Guided by an experienced member of the museum’s education team, students explore this history through a variety of resources including objects, images and written sources. The session is designed to encourage students to make the links between the aftermath of slavery and the world today.

Students work in five small groups to look at different aspects of the legacies of transatlantic slavery:

  • Britain after transatlantic slavery
  • America after transatlantic slavery
  • Africa after transatlantic slavery
  • Race and representation
  • Civil rights and activism

Each group uses different sets of artefacts to aid and deepen their understanding of this complex and difficult history.   

The museum educator guides the discussion through strategic questioning that encourages the students to focus, observe, and interpret the objects for themselves.  During the session the students’ confidence in handling objects, their visual literacy and critical thinking skills are developed. 'Legacies of transatlantic slavery' also enables students to develop presentation skills as groups present their findings and students listen and learn from each other.

This unique learning experience illustrates the massive impact of transatlantic slavery on the world and the ways it still impacts on many lives. It is a session unique to the International Slavery Museum. The approaches used in this session enable students to develop a deeper understanding of Fundamental British Values. It is recommended that students have a basic understanding of transatlantic slavery before taking part in this session, obtained in the classroom or by spending time exploring the museum beforehand.

Curriculum links

The content of this session has links to:

OCR GCSE History A

The USA 1945–1974: The People and the State

  • Post-war challenges in the USA 1945–1954: the position of African Americans in US society, including the Jim Crow Laws, access to education, voting rights and lack of equality in employment.

Civil Rights in the USA 1954–1964

  • The development and achievements of the civil rights movement, opposition to the civil rights movement and reasons for, and impact of, the Civil Rights Act 1964.
  • Government and dissent c.1964–1974
  • Development and impact of African American radical movements and leaders, including Malcolm X and Black Power

AQA GCSE History

Paper 1: Understanding the modern world

Section A America, 1920–1973: Opportunity and inequality

  • Divided society: the causes of racial, Tension,the Ku Klux Klan.
  • Post War America: Racial tension and developments in the Civil Rights campaigns in the 1950s and 1960s: Segregation laws; Martin Luther King and peaceful protests; Malcolm X and the Black Power, Movement; Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968.

Paper 2: Shaping the Nation

Section A Britain: Power and the people: c1170 to the present day

  • Protest and change: campaigning groups and their methods and impact, including the the development of multi-racial society since the Second World War; discrimination, protest and reform; the Brixton Riots, their impact, including the Scarman Report

KS4 Citizenship

Pupils will be explore:

  • human rights and international law
  • diverse national, regional, religious and ethnic identities in the United Kingdom and the need for mutual respect and understanding

Fundamental British Values

  •  Democracy. Understand the evolution of a society characterised by equality of rights.

  •  Individual Liberty. Explore essential knowledge and skills in order to broaden life choices and learn to voice opinions in a constructive and collaborative manner.

  •  Rule of Law. Learn the importance of accountability and safety. Understand the evolution of the equality of laws and rights which underpin British society.

  • Tolerance. Learn to recognise the multi-cultural, multi-faith nature of the United Kingdom, and to challenge prejudice.

  • Mutual Respect. Learn to embrace diversity in all its forms and contribute to an inclusive community. Actively challenge prejudice and bullying behaviour.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the impact transatlantic slavery had and continues to have.

  • Gain knowledge and understanding of the campaign to end slavery.

  • Gain knowledge of the inequality caused by transatlantic slavery.


Pupils will:

  • Develop observation skills by working with the museums handling objects.

  • Improve their speaking and listening skills in a group discussion context.

  • Learn to give reasoned answers backed up by evidence. 


Pupils will be introduced to:

  • The use of handling objects in a museum context.

  • The role of a museum such as the International Slavery Museum.

  • Key terms and appropriate language to use in relation to the legacies of transatlantic slavery.


Pupils will:

  • Increase confidence in identifying and challenging racial stereotypes.

  • Understand how transatlantic slavery still impacts on today’s society.

  • See the International Slavery Museum as an informative and creative place to visit.