This Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9) History scheme of work focuses in depth on the contribution of Sikh soldiers from the Indian subcontinent fighting on behalf of the UK between 1914 and 1918. It is designed to follow on from a focus on the First World War, probably in Year 9, and complements other material produced to mark the centenary of the First World War.


The scheme of work has been written by consultant Andrew Wrenn, former LA Humanities Advisor, on behalf of the UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA). It is based on a public exhibition also entitled ‘Empire, Faith & War: The Sikhs and World War One’, which was displayed at the School of African and Oriental Studies, London, from July to September 2014.

Key sources

The resources presented here include material from the Imperial War Museums, National Army Museum and several private collections. They also include rarely seen and colourful examples of British and German propaganda.


The culminating creative outcome asks pupils to plan a public exhibition about Sikh soldiers but according to criteria set out by different organisations worldwide seeking to present the history in accordance with their own interests.

Teaching focus

The learning objectives involve a particular emphasis on Diversity, Interpretations and Significance. Teachers may find this scheme useful in creating a more inclusive history curriculum. This means that British Sikh pupils can see people of their faith represented in the history curriculum and other pupils are made more aware of that identity and its contribution to British identity as a whole.

The resources include updates on subject knowledge in relation to the scheme of work and related links. The scheme of work assumes some prior learning about the religious and cultural practices of Sikhism, probably covered through religious education. Complementary content may also be linked to the unit where for example the growth of the British Empire in India has already be covered, South Asia covered in geography and British identity and values referred to wherever these are taught.

Lesson Plans

This resource is comprised of the following six lessons that build on each other to answer the overarching enquiry question ‘Lions of the Great War? How are Sikh soldiers of the First World War seen today?’

Lesson One – Why did Sikh soldiers fight against the British Empire in 1845 yet for it by 1915?

Lessons Two and Three – How did the British see Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers during the First World War?

Lesson Four – How did Germans see Sikh (and other Indian) soldiers in 1914 and how much did this change afterwards?

Lesson Five – How did Sikh soldiers of the First World War see themselves by 1918?

Lesson Six – How should we see Sikh soldiers of the First World War today?