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Activity 3a - Living in an institution: how it felt


To use evidence from the film to gain an insight into life in an institution.

Curriculum area(s)

  • Year 5 upwards
    • Drama
    • Art
    • Media

Suitable for adults with learning disabilities?


Learning outcome(s)

Students have an insight into how life in an institution impacts on an individual.

Time required

40 minutes



  1. Watch the part of the film where Mabel’s life in St Lawrence’s is described (6.55 to 9.20 minutes). Read to the group the extracts from Mabel’s life story in the Resources.
  2. Hand out copies of the line drawings showing life in an institution.
  3. Play Margaret Scally’s interview with Howard Mitchell (Video 2, Part 2, 5 mins to 6.18 mins; 7.15 mins to end).
  4. The students’ task is to write or draw a diary of the life of someone living in a long stay hospital like St Lawrence’s or Lennox Castle, as if they are a resident. For non-readers, just putting the drawings in chronological order will be enough to check understanding.

Ideas for follow up

  • In No Longer Shut Up, Robin says "I don’t imagine someone my age would put up with that". Mabel resisted by not speaking all the time she was in St Lawrence’s. What would you do if you were in that situation? How could you resist?
  • Discuss in pairs, then share with the group (for people who do not speak, suggest drawing?)
  • Portray emotions involved in Art piece.
  • Story boarding in Media/English.

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About the Group

If you woud like to get in touch with the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group, please contact:

Liz Tilley 
Chair of the Social History of Learning Disability (SHLD) Research Group
School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care
Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies
The Open University
Walton Hall
Milton Keynes

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