Inequality - Lesson Plan

Inequality - Lesson Plan: 2 x 1 hour lessons

A series of 'off the shelf' lesson plans and resources for use in the classroom. These lessons deal with Inequality and are relevant to the following specifications:
  • AQA: Unit 5, section 14.5
  • Edexcel: Unit 5B (to be used as a primer to the issue of economic development)
  • OCR: Module 2886 (to be used as a primer to the issue of economic development)


The Activity aims to get students looking at the nature of inequality in its broadest sense. The Activity focuses primarily on inequality in the UK but the basic principles covered can be used as a precursor to the development of an understanding of the causes of inequality between the developed and undeveloped world as well as the causes of inequality within the less developed world.
The Activity encourages students to think of issues that lead to inequality in income and wealth. Factors such as qualifications, skills, discrimination, resource endowment, access, education, health care, ability, access to work, government support and so on should be expected as the main points. The provision of the Mind Map might offer a memory jog for some students.
The Activity seeks to develop students' depth of knowledge by providing a range of tasks that get progressively more challenging in terms of the higher order skills that are being demanded of the student. The Activity culminates with an essay-type question based on an understanding of some important principles in measuring inequality highlighted by two reports from the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS).
The lesson can be organised either by getting students to work through the Activity individually, producing written responses to the tasks, or by setting students on some of the research tasks and then bring them together to discuss the issues raised by the questions. The final task can be used as the written piece for summative assessment.
The Activity can be used in conjunction with the Activity on Poverty, Inequality and Income Distribution.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of the lessons, students should understand the following:
  • The meaning of the term 'inequality'
  • The principle causes of inequality of wealth and income
  • The difference between vertical and horizontal inequality
  • The implications of equity in discussions of inequality
  • The key methods used to measure inequality
  • Trends in inequality in the UK over the last 25 years
  • Factors involved in assessing analysis of standards of living and inequality


Lesson Structure:

Lesson 1

  1. Begin the lesson by asking students to explain their views on whether it is right that footballers should earn more in a week than a nurse will earn in three years. The aim is to introduce an element of controversy in a discussion of what we mean by inequality and what factors might affect our view of how we might see inequality. (10 minutes)
  2. Ask students to write down a variety of scenarios that they think characterise inequality - what are the stereotypes of inequality? Discuss the responses. (15 minutes)
  3. Identify some of the key issues by going through the PowerPoint Presentation - this raises a number of important economic principles that can be applied to discussions of inequality. Discuss these issues with students as the Presentation proceeds. (20 minutes)
  4. Introduce the Activity and explain the method of approach.
From this point on, the course of the lesson and the subsequent lesson will depend on whether written responses are required or whether the discussion approach is followed.
In either case, the remaining lesson time and the subsequent lesson should be used to support students in the skills required to tackle the tasks provided. In particular, Tasks 3 and 4 will require some input from the teacher in terms of directing pupils in the art of synthesising information from lengthy reports and research papers.
Related activity:
Inequality - Activity
Related mind map:
Inequality - Mind Map