PUPILS at a Southwick school found out exactly what it was like to be a schoolchild in Victorian times.
As the school bell rang at Glebe Primary School last Tuesday, children in year four were shepherded into the main hall.
After being made to line up in absolute silence and in the correct size order, they were inspected by the teachers and had to repeat several times ‘cleanliness is next to godliness’.
On completion of the hand-inspection, they were marched back to their classrooms to follow a strict timetable of lessons, including scripture and ‘the 3Rs’ – reading, writing and arithmetic.
Teacher Pauline Davies said: “Anyone who failed to make the grade was pulled out in front of the class and made to wear the dunce’s cap.
“Any giggling or any other kind of insubordination was swiftly dealt with by five lashings of the cane - luckily it was only role-play.”
Later in the day, the children were split into two groups. The boys took part in a demanding physical education lesson known as ‘drill’ on the playground, while the girls practised their deportment by walking correctly around the school while balancing textbooks on their heads.
Mrs Davies said: “A tricky task at the best of times, but even harder when you have to bend down to pick up a carelessly dropped handkerchief.”
She said it had been a successful day but teachers and pupils alike preferred modern teaching methods.
“I’m pretty sure that neither the children nor the teachers would want to work in this way every day, but it has been a fantastic way for the children to appreciate just how hard it would have been for a child at school in the Victorian era.”
Fellow year-four teacher Andy Baker said: “It has been a great day. The children have just gained so much from the first-hand experience of a typical Victorian school day and, perhaps rather surprisingly, have had fun at the same time.”