These lesson plans are for UK secondary schools (KS3). The plans have been written by Andrew Wrenn, an honorary fellow and trustee of the Historical Association and were reviewed by a steering group of teachers in Leicester. 

Colour illustration of two muslim soldiersThese lesson plans focus on the little known history of the British Indian Army during the First World War. One and a half million of these volunteer soldiers, recruited from Muslim, Hindu and Sikh peoples in British India served alongside British troops in campaign theatres worldwide and the Indian Army Corps helped to stem the German advance on the Western Front in 1914.

The aim of these lesson plans is to provide secondary teachers in schools across the United Kingdom with a practical educational resource that compliment and extend the study of the First World War, most commonly taught in history lessons at Key Stage Three in Years Eight and Nine.

While the lesson plans are written to be taught as part of the National Curriculum for History in English state schools it is also possible to adapt them for other uses, for example;

  • Supporting the teaching of citizenship, in particular “to weigh evidence, debate and make reasoned arguments”
  • Supporting a school`s delivery of British values, particularly where pupils are required “to learn about mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs”
  • Supporting the development of character education, particularly through pedagogy that “encourages autonomy and reflection”.
  • Supporting the development of thinking skills and critical thinking
  • Linking with other subject areas where  inter-disciplinary approaches might be beneficial such as study of the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths in Religious Education or South Asia in Geography.


The National Curriculum for History requires that Key Stage Three covers “challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day”
However the programme of study also emphasises the importance of planning lessons through subject specific concepts and processes, effectively summarised as follows ‘Teaching should equip pupils to ask perceptive questions, think critically, weigh evidence, sift arguments, and
develop perspective and judgement.’ The following concepts in particular have influenced the framing of the enquiry questions for the lesson plans: continuity and change, cause and consequence, handling evidence (enquiry), historical interpretations, characteristic features of a period, making links within and across periods, similarity and difference, historical significance.

Each lesson focuses on a different combination of the historical concepts and processes (no one lesson can cover them all). The activities all address an historical enquiry question that sets up an historical problem for pupils to solve, based on a particular subject-specific concept or concepts. The aims of each lesson are expressed in a learning objective accompanied by concrete learning outcomes. The resources to accompany each lesson are included in a PowerPoint in each case.

The six lesson plans could be taught in their entirety if time allowed or particular lessons could be selected.

Lesson One is designed to be taught first, featuring the study of two contrasting Victoria Cross winners of the First World War, one from the British Army and one from the British Indian Army.
The detail of their careers as soldiers also gives an overview of the relationship between Britain and its Indian empire up to 1914 and the service of the Indian Army on the Western front. Lesson two follows on directly from the first, analysing soldier`s letters from the Western front between 1914 and 1915. Lesson Three focuses on German attitudes to British Indian soldiers and how these changed. Lessons Four and Five explore issues of remembrance in the UK and elsewhere.  Lesson Six is intended to be taught last, giving pupils an overview of the British Indian Army`s service during the First World War as a whole.

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