Key stage 3, lesson plan 1

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Objectives/desired outcomes for students

  • To consider their aspirations for their working life
  • To develop an understanding of fair treatment at work
  • To know that some workers today endure forms of slavery and that some contemporary slaves are children
  • To consider which kinds of child labour might be slavery

Curriculum links

Citizenship 1.1b); 1.1c); 1.1d); 1.2a); 1.2b); 1.2c); 2.1a). Find out more about how this links to the curriculum.

Resources needed

Key vocabulary

Child labour, exploitation, rights, remuneration

Introduction to lesson

Explain that during a series of three lessons students will be finding out about fairness and unfairness in jobs people do, and exploring issues of rights and exploitation at work, here and around the world.

Ask the students to think about

  • What kind of job would you like when you are older? Why?
  • What would be the best things about this job?
  • What would be the biggest challenge?
  • What would you worry about on your first day in your job?

Hand out cards (Worksheet 3.1.1) so that students can interview each other in pairs about their work plans for when they are adults.

Ask for some sample answers, then ask

“What would you do if at the end of your first week you really didn’t like the job?” and record the answers.


1. Pyramid ranking

Introduce worksheet 3.1.2

Organise the students into pairs or groups and give each pair/group a sheet. (Groups of three work well as they have a built-in majority for decision-making.)

Explain that on the sheet there are 10 boxes/bricks. Each one describes something that should make them feel happy and satisfied in their job. Ask them to think about how they would order them by preference in a pyramid (1-2-2-3-3-3-4-4-4-4).

When the groups have completed the task, ask each group to compare their pyramids with those of another group. Then ask the groups to report back on the top three bricks of their pyramids - to see if there is a class consensus on which aspects of working life are most important. (Record these preferences - it does not matter if there is no consensus but a pattern may emerge.)

2. Case study

Introduce case study 6 - Seba (France) and explain that it is a true story that happened a few years ago. Ask the class to identify which of their pyramid bricks apply to this worker (or go through each brick and compare Seba’s situation).

Ask which words they would use to describe Seba’s working situation and record them.

If the word “slave” or “slavery” is not said, introduce “slavery” and ask them to discuss in a group what it means and whether they think slavery still exists. Ask groups to discuss whether slavery describes Seba’s situation and to provide evidence to back up their conclusion.

Explain that slavery often refers to the experience of people taken from Africa between the 16th - 19th century who worked for no remuneration on plantations and estates in the Americas and the Caribbean and that this slavery was outlawed in the 19th century. But there are work situations today that people describe as slavery, and some of them affect children.

Ask for any comments on that statement.

3. Responding to statements

These statements are designed to encourage debate about exploitative relationships between adults and children; between employers and workers; and to highlight issues of children’s rights. (The following statements use the term “employer” for boss. If the pupils are more familiar with the term “boss”, use that.)

Ask the students to imagine an invisible line in the classroom which runs through five points: strongly agree; agree; not sure; disagree; strongly disagree. Read the following statements and ask the students to stand on that line. After each statement ask two students standing at different points to explain to the class why they are standing at that particular position.

  • Parents have a right to ask their children to do some housework.
  • Parents are entitled to ask children to do an hour’s housework every day.
  • People should always be able to talk to each other while they are working.
  • If you have worked an 8-hour day but still have a task to finish, your employer has the right to make you work overtime.
  • People who work for someone else will always be exploited.
  • If you see a fellow worker being mistreated by your employer, you should speak out even though your employer might be angry with you.
  • Children aged under 14 should never be encouraged to do paid work.
  • If your employer offers you more money to do dangerous work, you should refuse to do that work.
  • Exploitation and slavery are the same thing.


Ask the students to comment on the activities and learning they have done in this lesson. Ask if they can think of some kinds of child labour that would not be slavery, and where the line should be drawn between them.

Homework/further research

Explain that there are pieces of human rights legislation that relate to these issues. Ask the pupils to do some research about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.


What next?