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KS3/4 Geography: Housing Problems (1935)

Exploring residents' perceptions of slums and re-development plans in London

Main image of KS3/4 Geography: Housing Problems (1935)
AuthorRuth Henning, Park View Academy
TopicSlums and re-development
Key WordsHousing problems, housing schemes, solution, reconstruction, re-housing, push and pull factors
Show full lesson spec

A series of extracts from Housing Problems (1935), which look at slum conditions and show how local councils are planning on tackling the problems.

These short extracts highlight some of the main problems with slum living in 1930s London and offer a great starting point for discussion around the benefits and disadvantages of reconstruction and re-housing.

This lesson idea uses the video extracts to explore some of the issues associated with the redevelopment of slums in inner city of London. Since the film was made with the aim of promoting the work that local councils and public companies were doing to improve housing conditions, this lesson also asks students to assess the success of these proposals for re-development based on their own knowledge and with the help of other extracts from Screenonline.

Lesson Objective

  • To understand why slums develop
  • To analyse the solutions put forward by local councils
  • To evaluate these in the context of their impact on current housing problems


Play The Problem of the Slum to pupils with the sound off, before asking pupils to answer the following questions:

  1. What country or do you think these houses are located?
  2. What year do you think this film was recorded?
  3. What do you think the cameraman was attempting to capture?
  4. What one question would you like to ask in response to this extract. (Useful for AFL)

This can lead into a class discussion exploring students' different perceptions of the extract - these could be collected on the board along with the key questions they have posed. These ideas can be left on the board throughout the lesson as students learn more about the films and housing problems in the 30s.

Re-play the extract while pupils fill in a table with the headings; why were the slums built, housing problems of the slums. Differentiation: pupils draw a picture of a portion of the slums, labelling the following: outside tap, sagging roofs, decaying walls.

Encourage students to discuss their findings with another member of the class.


Main Attraction

Ask students to examine the next extract, Mr Norwood's story focussing specifically on Mr Norwood's perception of the slum in which he lives.

As students listen to Mr Norwood they can add any new problems of the slum they learn about to their table.

Differentiation: students can further annotate their picture of the slums with the teacher providing certain key words and phrases (ie. mice, rats, hygiene, two rooms).

Pupils work in pairs to answer the following questions:

  1. How would this living environment impact on your quality of life?
  2. How could you solve the problems listed in your table?

Play Proposal for reconstruction. While pupils watch the extract they should 'mark' their answer to question two. Pupils should get one mark for any solution they proposed that is similar to one mentioned in the extract and should also note down any further solutions the local authority proposed.

Follow this with the final extract Re-housing. Ask students to work in small groups to develop an 'on the other hand' diagram, listing the advantages of re-housing on one hand, and the possible disadvantages on the other.

In order to complete the list of disadvantages, students will need to discuss whether housing estates of the kind shown in the extract still exist and what state they are in. There are some useful extracts from Who Cares? (1971), that might help students think about this in a little more detail.The Housing collection also contains a number of useful films for independent research.

Next, challenge students to construct a storyboard for short, one minute film that broadly tracks the developments in housing from the slums of the 30s to the present day but focuses on the perceptions and experience of residents.

They will need to think carefully about:

  • Change and continuity over time
  • How they will use key visual images and narration to capture residents' emotions
  • What is the overall message that students would like to convey?

Differentiation: depending on ability, pupil should choose a four, six or eight frame storyboard capturing the change from the slums towards the new housing schemes.


End Credits

Refer back to the questions students asked at the start of the lesson. Have they been answered?

Finally - hear a selection of students' ideas. What are the similarities and differences in approach between different groups? How were their storyboards influenced by the extracts that they watched? What have students learned about the utility of film in capturing personal perceptions of settlement issues?


External Links

Video Clips
1. The problem of the slum (1:44)
2. Mr Norwood's story (0:47)
3. Proposals for reconstruction (2:09)
4. Rehousing (1:18)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Housing Problems (1935)Housing Problems (1935)

Read more about this film

Thumbnail image of Who Cares (1971)Who Cares (1971)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS3 Geography: Housing Problems (1935)KS3 Geography: Housing Problems (1935)

Exploring issues of slum housing with a classic film documentary

Thumbnail image of The Promised Land?: Housing Problems (1935)The Promised Land?: Housing Problems (1935)

Material to accompany the BFI Mediatheque 'The Promised Land?' DVD