31 March 2022

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History and English Departments are working together again and it’s a subject that has got pupils gripped – a serial killer. 

In History, the Year 8s have studied Victorian Britain and one of the lessons is Jack the Ripper, an unidentified serial killer active in impoverished areas of London in the 19th Century. 

In English, the same year group are reading Stone Cold by Robert Swindells, a book about serial killer Shelter whose plan is to clean up the streets of London by murdering homeless people he believes society views as a ‘nuisance’ in the 20th Century. 

The two departments have worked together before to study World War 1 and the overlapping of the two curriculums helped pupils understand both lessons better. 

History teacher Miss Ackers said: “We studied Victorian Britain and Jack the Ripper before the pupils read Stone Cold but they have given me feedback and, how studying Jack the Ripper, helped their understanding of the book. 

“Through History they had knowledge of issues such as homelessness in the 19th Century and how homeless people then were viewed as a nuisance, some felt they needed to be eradicated and the police overlooked this.

“This is what Jack the Ripper did in the slums of England and the Year 8s have felt studying both at the same time has brought it all together, even though Stone Cold is set in the 20th Century.” 
English teacher Mrs Robinson-Ali said: “There are many links between the two in a social-historical context. 

“The pupils have been totally hooked on this novel, it’s known the killer is Shelter from the start so it’s not a surprise but it’s about the way he works and thinks and the background he comes from.  It’s certainly helped with them having studied Jack the Ripper in History.” 

Mackenzie said: “Stone Cold is about detecting crime and a serial killer. We had learnt about Jack the Ripper in History and both are about the killing of homeless people and the reasons behind it and the police involvement. 

“You can compare both Shelter and Jack the Ripper with each other and it helped having knowledge of both.” 

Kayleigh added: “Both Shelter and Jack the Ripper killed homeless people. Having studied both, I imagine both look similar in my head.” 

Head of English Mrs Gidden said: “We have collaborated with History before, they were studying World War 1 and then in English the pupils had the opportunity to use the vocabulary in a more expressive way and be emotive about it.  In Stone Cold, it’s about a serial killer thinking he is cleaning up the streets of London by getting rid of what he judges are dirty homeless people, like Jack the Ripper in the 19th Century. 

"The fact we study a similar theme in both lessons gives the pupils a better understanding and we have had really strong feedback from the pupils.” 

To read about their previous collaboration, go to >> https://www.priory.lancs.sch.uk/news/2021-05-31-english-and-history-collide-to-make-great-impact

Tags: English History Year 8