The Transatlantic Slave Trade

The Transatlantic Slave Trade

A lesson plan inspired by the International Slavery Museum, Liverpool

Key Stage:

KS3 History National Curriculum: Primary History. Pupils should...make connections, draw contrasts...over long arcs of time Pupils should be taught about: ideas, political power, industry and empire: Britain, 1745 -1901 Non-statutory examples include: Britain's transatlantic slave trade: its effects and its eventual abolition.


These resources can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used as a starter or conclusion to a unit on the transatlantic slave trade or as part of a Year 7 introductory unit on the relevance of studying history. The following notes outline one way of handling the Year 7 option.

Suggested Classroom Activity

Show your group the short film ‘A Statue For A Slaver’. The film presents a brief explanation of transatlantic slavery, the role of slave traders and plantation owners, the triangle of trade, conditions for slaves and dates of abolition.

Ask the pupils what they think of Robert Milligan and whether they think his statue ought to still be on display at Canary Wharf in London? (Note. The statue of Robert Milligan was removed by the local authority in June 2020)

What is The International Slavery Museum?

A similar debate takes place in this short film in which students from Liverpool visit The International Slavery Museum and meet education staff member Mitty Ramachandran.

Watch the film and then continue to broaden the discussion.

Savar building collapse

At the end of the ‘A Statue For A Slaver' film there is an image of a collapsed building. This image is of the Savar building in Dakar which collapsed killing many slave workers. Click on the image to download the news report from the New York Times of the event that happened in 2013.
Page 13 from ‘How to be Rich’

Page 13 from ‘How to be Rich’

Hand out copies of Page 13 from ‘How to be Rich’ and task them with preparing their own evaluation of the differences and similarities between the c18th transatlantic slave / sugar trade and present day cheap clothing imports from Asia and other parts of the world. John Ruskin was an important and hugely influential 19th century thinker whose book ‘Unto This Last’ had a particularly strong impact on Gandhi and on the UK labour movement. ‘How to be Rich’is drawn by Hunt Emerson written by Kevin Jackson and is an entertaining and accessible paraphrase of Ruskin's ideas in ‘Unto This Last'.

Development Activity:

Additional worksheets and lesson plans about transatlantic and modern slavery can be found on the ISM website. Including Pyramid ranking: your job. Download the International Slavery Museum worksheet 2.1.2 and get the group to sort the job conditions in order of importance.

Learning Objectives:

Learning Objectives Pupils will evaluate connections and contrasts between Britain's transatlantic slave trade and contemporary trade relationships between the west and the third world.

Research, Notes and Links:

Download the Lesson plan.pdf

Download this How to be rich.pdf

How To Be Rich based on Unto This Last by John Ruskin,drawn by Hunt Emerson, written by Kevin Jackson, edited by Howard Hull and Emma Bartlett, copyright The Ruskin Foundation ISBN: 0-9550938-0-5
You can find out more about Ruskin on the Brantwood website
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