Suitable for Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2

Experience a Victorian lesson taught by strict Mrs Sawyer in her schoolroom. 

The pupils will gain an insight into the life of a Victorian Schoolchild and compare it with today’s schools. The Sawyers were an important part of the history of the park – for example many of the children in Mrs Sawyer’s school would have had fathers who worked in the park for Mr. Sawyer, the Head Keeper in the late 1800s.

What season is best for this activity?

This activity can be done any time of the year. The only part that takes place outside is ‘drill’ and this can be done inside if the weather is bad.

Learning objectives and links to the National Curriculum of Study

The session links directly to the National Curriculum History Programmes of Study (changes within living memory and local history) for Key Satges 1 and 2(.  All our sessions are underpinned by detailed lesson plans. These plans are adjusted to take account of the variations in ability and skill level.

Outline of the activity

The session starts in the main classroom with an Introduction by a Holly Lodge Centre volunteer. The pupils are dressed in Victorian costumes for the session. They are told that Mrs. Sawyer will be very strict and they must obey her instantly (for younger pupils it is important that the ‘play acting’ aspect is stressed.) 

They are then taken to the Victorian Classroom where Mrs Sawyer is waiting. The session includes an outline of the methods of discipline used at that time; everybody using slates to do handwriting practice and working from the blackboard and easel. For older pupils this will include a sum using £sd. They will also learn about the 3R’s. The class will be expected to sit in silence at all times, unless they are answering a question!

Back in the main classroom the group will discuss the differences in today’s schools – the sort of equipment used, the furniture, the methods of discipline and so on. 

Ideas for pre-visit learning

Before coming to do this activity it would be helpful if the children already knew they would be ‘acting’ as Victorian schoolchildren and that Mrs Sawyer will expect them to behave accordingly. (This will be reinforced by the Holly Lodge Volunteer on the day).
A discussion of what it was like for children in Victorian times would be useful (especially poorer children who would be going to Mrs. Sawyer’s School.)

Ideas for follow-up work back at school

Teachers are given a pack of activities for use back at school if they wish. It includes pictures of Victorian schools, handwriting sheets, Victorian street games and a school timetable showing the difference in subjects taught then and now.


“Well resourced. Brilliant room for the class. Costumes are great."

“The children were captivated and very interested!”

“An excellent experience that allowed the children to travel back in time.”

“This was fantastic! I have never seen my class so engaged. Holly Lodge leaders are clearly passionate about what they do.”