Ramsgate Arts Primary pupils explore Victorian Britain

Learning about Victorian Britain

Daily life in Victorian Britain has come alive for children from Ramsgate Arts Primary School.

Year 6 pupils experienced a wide range of chores, tasks and events from the period in a series of living history workshops at the Museum of Kent Life near Maidstone.

The hectic life below stairs that ran a rich Victorian household involved a variety of chores and pupils were allocated roles from butlers and housekeepers to scullery maids and valets.

Shopping saw the convenience of today’s supermarkets replaced by small retailers specialising in specific foods, and pupils became workers delivering milk and bread and also had to queue to buy different types of food.

The Victorian schoolroom was a favourite experience that showcases how education has changed, from having a boys’ and girls’ side of the room, to being punished with the cane or being banished to the corner of the room in a dunces’ hat.

The year group also found out about the type of jobs children had to do during the industrial revolution and these included working in factories, as chimney sweeps and on board ships.

Victorian homes could get extremely draughty in wintertime, so women who were not from wealthy backgrounds were expected to make rugs to cover the floors using strips of rags. The children had a go at making their own.

One of the most famous characters from the era is nurse Florence Nightingale who was on hand to discuss her upbringing, the Crimean War and her ground-breaking training of nurses and improvements in the treatment and care of the wounded. Afterwards, the children got to put their own nursing and bandaging skills to the test.

On a tour of the Victorian farmhouse pupils found out how water was fetched and heated, how clothes were washed and how the families might entertain themselves in a world without modern technology.

Another part of RAPS look at life in the 1800s explored engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, some of his inventions and how he helped change the world.

Using his designs as an inspiration, the children were tasked with creating their own bridge design to cover a one-metre gap between two desks in the classroom

Judging was based on four categories: initial design, appearance, collaboration and functionality. This final category was tested by seeing if a toy bus could pass over the bridge with a push or two. After each successful ‘drive’ an additional weight was added before it passed back over the bus. The winning group was Lexi, Lily, Ethan, Lloyd and Herc.

Head of School Nick Budge said: “It is fascinating to see how our children react to experiencing life in Victorian Britain, exploring how people went about their daily lives against the backdrop of social poverty and wealth as well as the Industrial Revolution.

“Our teachers Jon Williams and Andrew Beraet expertly guided Year 6 through this exciting adventure, with the visit to the Museum of Kent Life a real highlight of the topic.”

*Find out more about the Museum of Kent Life online at www. kentlife.org.uk

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