Teachers' Notes

KS1 Reception and Year 1

Before the visit
Download the photographs in the KS1 picture pack. How is the Victorian classroom different from one in a school today? Write captions for a display.

After the visit
Make a Now and Then pack by photographing the modern equivalent of each of the pictures in the pack (the teacher, the interactive white board, pencils and felt tips, for example). Write captions for the pictures.

Use the writing frame to structure a piece of writing about the visit.

KS1 Year 2

After the visit
Ask children to imagine they have gone back to Victorian times. Write an account of their day from the point of view of a Victorian child.


Before the visit
Finding out about Victorian schools is research with a purpose. It’s a motivating way of practicing reference skills.

1. Using the contents page
Most books about the Victorians contain a double page spread about schools. Children should be shown how to locate it, by scanning down the contents page.

Once they’ve got the idea, they could try to find the answer to these questions. They are arranged in order of difficulty.

Easy questions
Can you find a section about schools? What is the page number?
Can you find a picture of a Victorian classroom?
Find a picture and read the caption. What does it tell you?
What did Victorian school children use to write with?
What kind of things did Victorian children learn?
Did Victorian children play any sports?

Harder questions
Did all children go to school?
Did boys and girls do the same lessons?
What were the 3 Rs?
Did schools change at all during Queen Victoria’s reign?
Did parents have to pay?
How were rich children educated?
How were poor children educated?

2. Using the index
Children need to know that the index is at the back of an information book and that it is arranged alphabetically. Try a look-it-up race as a quick warm up activity. Give each child an information book and a word to look up. Who can find it first?

These words crop up in the index of most books about the Victorians:

  • Queen Victoria
  • photographs/photography
  • railways
  • empire
  • seaside
  • games

Now give children a grid like this. Ask them to look up the words and write down the page where they found them. Swap books and grids with a partner and see how quickly the partner can find the right page and the word. This gives practice in scanning a page for information.

Word Book Title Pages
boarding school
ragged school
reading and writing

3. Contents page, index and glossary
Most topic books about the Victorians have a glossary of unfamiliar words. Show children where the glossary is located and give them the list of words above. Record whether they found information by writing yes or no.

Word Book Title
  Contents Page Index Glossary
boarding school  no yes yes 
ragged school
reading and writing

After the visit
A day in the life of a Victorian child.
Use the fact file together with children’s experience of the day at Sevington to inform a piece of narrative written from the point of view of a Victorian child.

Double page spread
Most reference books for children are based on a list of topics, each with its own double page spread. Understanding this helps pupils to navigate their way through, and creating their own double page spread develops skills of selection and synthesis.

Look at some books about the Victorians and talk about what is included in a double page spread.

Typically one might contain:

Information boxes

Edit it! This enables children to import, edit and organise text and images to create their own double page spread, using headings and captions

You’re the editor
An extension is to make a class reference book. Using the Sevington website, the fact file and picture bank, pairs or groups of children could work on individual double page spreads, while others could be assigned to produce the contents page, index, glossary, jacket and blurb.

Topics to cover could include:

The history of Sevington School
Miss Squire and Sevington School
School life: Reading and writing
School life: The schoolroom
School life: In the playground
School life: Special days
Miss Squire’s scholars


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