This activity will review your pupils’ understanding of, and attitudes to, equality.

Every child is different, and their experiences and understandings of inequality will be different. This activity will help you pitch the teaching at the level needed.


Prepare seven reusable containers with lids, each with a hole for a counter or bean to pass through.

Ensure the containers are not see-through, so that pupils’ choices are not influenced by one another.

Prepare seven labels with the following phrases, and place each label against a pot:

  1. It’s just like that.
  2. Unlucky.
  3. Not fair.
  4. None of these.
  5. Don’t know.
  6. Lazy.
  7. Not very clever.

For older pupils, you could use three containers labelled with the terms in the British and European Social Attitudes Survey: ignorance, injustice, inevitable.

  • Put the pupils in small groups and give each pupil three beans or counters. Ask them: ‘Why do people face inequality? Read out each label and explain what it means. This allows pupils to consider how they want to vote
  • Ask pupils to vote by putting their beans or counters into the pots at the same time, to avoid influencing each other
  • Ask some pupils to count the beans or counters in each pot and record the numbers. Keep a record of the scores and collate the results. You could convert them into percentages as an additional maths activity
  • Follow with a discussion, making a note of the most popular responses. If there were votes for None of these, ask what label they would have liked to see. Is a prevailing view or a pattern emerging? What assumptions are there? 
  • For older students you may wish to ask what distinguishes inequality between people from inequality between countries
  • See if pupils’ responses change when they are speaking about the personal and the geopolitical. Depending on the age group you are working with, ask if there are connections between the personal and the geographical and, if so, what those connections might be.

You can do this task again after the other tasks in this activity, to see if there are any changes in attitudes to inequality. Remember to keep your initial findings if you plan to return to it!

This activity is adapted from the RISC toolkit ‘How do we know it’s working?’. The original activity asked ‘Why are some people poor?’.