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One of the most remarkable aspects of last September’s Independence vote in Scotland was the idealism and enthusiasm of young people participating in the election process. The National Election in May 2015 presents an opportunity to encourage young people to engage in politics on issues that directly affect or interest them.


2015 also marks the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, the most famous legal document in the world, regarded as the foundation of democracy and enshrining the ideas of freedom, justice and the rule of law.  The Magna Carta is one of England’s greatest exports, influencing the developments of constitutions worldwide including the US, France and Japan and is even echoed in the European Convention of Human Rights and the United Nations.


To commemorate this anniversary the BBC has produced a series of programmes in partnership with the British Library and the Magna Carta 800 Committee as part of a drive to widen understanding of the essential role this document has played in the development of democratic society. Programming is spread across the whole network including radio, television and online, and includes some programmes suitable for Primary, Secondary and Further/Higher Education.


As the election gets closer we can expect plenty more programming but for now here are some of the recent and upcoming broadcasts / resources that might be of use:


Horrible Histories Presents: Crooked King John and the Magna Carta, BBC2 7th February 5.15pm

Of particular interest to KS2, Horrible Histories Presents: Crooked King John and Magna Carta is a special episode of the hugely popular CBBC series. Looking at the life and reign of King John I and exploring the wider events of the time this episode explains how he came to sign the Magna Carta just before the end of his reign.

Songs from the BBC’s Horrible Histories Magna Carta special will also be shown as part of the British Library’s Magna Carta Exhibition from March onwards.



Can Democracy Work? Available on BBC iPlayer until 23 Feb

At a time of widespread political disillusion, and when constitutional reform is moving up the political agenda, the BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson presents a three-part BBC Radio 4 series examining the state of democracy in Britain today.



The Legacy of the Magna Carta  Available on BBC iPlayer

Originally broadcast on Radio 4 at the beginning of 2015, this four-part documentary series presented by Melvyn Bragg investigates the history of the magna carta and traces its influences over the 800 years since the document was signed.



David Starkey’s Magna Carta clips available on the BBC website 

The historian David Starkey looks at the origins of the Great Charter and the subsequent contribution it has made to making everyone subject to the rule of law.



Inside the Commons BBC2 3 February 9pm

Michael Cockerell presents this four-part series with unparalleled access to the House of Commons, filmed over the course of a year and takes an unprecedented look at the heart of British democracy in the run up to the 2015 general election.


An Idiot’s Guide to Politics BBC3 11 February 9pm

Comedian Jolyon Rubenstein investigates reasons why the so-called “Facebook Generation” is so disengaged from politics – recent figures show that less than a quarter of people under the ages of 25 plan to vote in the election.


To stimulate discussion in the classroom around some of the issues over which the Election will be fought, the Channel 4 website has a selection of clips from recent editions of Dispatches:


Low Pay Britain

Morland Sanders investigates the reality of employment in post-recession Britain.

Benefits Britain

A couple talk about how the pilot scheme for universal Credit benefits left them worse off.

Breadline Kids

A selection of clips including children talking about their first visit to a food bank, use of breakfast clubs and the hard choices some families have make.


And on Channel 5:

No foreigners here – 100% British available on Channel 5 website

A warm and humorous look at what it means to be British.