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A day in the life of The Victorian Schoolroom

We have an amazing team that delivers Victorian Schoolroom and Playroom sessions for Key Stage 1 and 2, and occasionally older students.

Victorian teacher's spectacles on desk

This month we are sharing with you a snapshot of a day in the life of a schoolroom session from the point of view of a Victorian teacher and school maid.

Our Victorian schoolmistress, Miss Smith (real name - Jo) says:

Victorian teacher's spectacles on desk
I'm the newbie on the team having started work in the schoolroom in September 2018.

On entering the Victorian schoolroom each day, I become a class teacher from 1893, complete with my profession's uniform of a long black skirt, white blouse and mob hat (round, gathered cloth bonnet for covering the hair). The children love to enter into the fun of the immersive experience and arrive, usually dressed as Victorians, and are then led to the schoolroom.

The morning starts with the class register - familiar but oh so different to the classroom of 2019, as each child stands and replies "Yes Ma'am". The register is followed by the class singing All things Bright and Beautiful and listening to a reading from the Bible.

Bookshelves in classroom
Then we practise the 'Three Rs' - Reading from an authentic Victorian Reader, Writing with a dip ink pen, and Arithmetic based on the old copper coins of the day. I show the class our stuffed Tawny Owl and ask the young scholars what they notice: this is the Object lesson. Then, in order to prepare them for their likely occupations in Victorian England, I teach the boys Technical Drawing and Miss Emily, the classroom maid, takes the girls downstairs to learn to sew.

Teaching at the schoolroom gives me the privilege of being part of so many school trips that are a highlight of many children's time at school. I love seeing the children really getting into role as they turn from contemporary school children into Victorian scholars.

Miss Emily, the school maid (real name - Deborah) describes her role:

I am a designer and I have worked with textiles and in teaching for many years. I have been working with schools who visit the Victorian schoolroom for twelve years.

Domestic science classroom area
In the schoolroom, I am Miss Emily. My job is to meet the school children as they arrive and help them to get into the role of Victorian scholars from the moment they step off the coach!

As Miss Emily, I support the class and teach creative skills in the schoolroom, such as sewing, which is hugely popular.

I feel so privileged to meet new schools every day. We see so many different ages of children, ranging from 5 to 11 years. I find teaching new skills a delight, whether it is sewing, making hats, using a slate board to write on, or playing with unfamiliar toys and objects.

Feedback from participants

We asked some pupils and their teacher from Furzefield Primary Community School to share with us what they thought of their visit and this is what they said:

''The school has made multiple visits to the Victorian Schoolroom sessions, this is my second visit, and I think it is an excellent session. I particularly enjoy the pen and ink writing activity and would recommend the Victorian Schoolroom to others. I asked my class if they enjoyed themselves and their response was one hundred per cent Yes!''

The pupils added:

"We dressed up as Victorians and lined up boys vs girls."

"We met our teacher, we called her Ma'am and she called us scholars."

"We did Maths with Victorian money, and science with animals. We learnt a poem and played with Victorian toys."

"We did handwriting with pens and ink."

Schoolroom sessions can be booked for visits Monday to Friday during term time. For more information, please see our Guildford Museum Education web pages.

Desks in the Victorian classroom
Pen and ink pens with blotters