On Friday 2nd October, you would not have been wrong to have thought that Bourne Elsea Park Church of England Primary Academy had been transported back into the past. As children of Y5 arrived at school, dressed in Victorian clothes, they were greeted by a team of extremely stern looking teachers and teaching assistants wearing mortar boards and carrying canes. Taking part in their Victorian Enrichment Day, the children were taken on a journey back to a day in the life of a Victorian school child to help them understand what life was like before children had their right to a voice. Before entering the classrooms, they were made to line up in two lines, boys and girls, in order to have a hand inspection by their teachers. Once in their classrooms, learning seemed very different as they were told the rules, such as ‘Do not talk, only speak when spoken to….’ and made to chant ‘Good, Better, Best, Never Let it Rest.’ During the day they had to complete handwriting exercises on slate chalk boards and repeat their times table in rote (definitely not as fun as their usual times table rock stars). Some were unlucky and had to experience wearing the dunce hat whilst standing in the corner of the classroom and see a Victorian cane. Their teachers also taught them the drill activities the children did for PE. Can you believe they did this inside next to their desk? Finally, they had to sing the national anthem. In the afternoon, the children examined Bourne Abbey School’s Victorian log book and discovered information about children who used to go to the school. A highlight of their day was watching excerpts from Oliver Twist and acting out scenes from the story.
Having spent the day as a strict Victorian teacher, Mr Waterhouse said, ‘I think the children now understand how different life was in a Victorian classroom as the experience brought history alive’.
After the day was over, a child from 5D said, ‘It was scary, especially when we saw the cane but it felt rude that we weren’t allowed to speak or have an opinion’.
The children certainly seemed relieved when their normal, smiley teachers returned to class on the following Monday morning!