'Fingers pointing down towards God's good earth' was the instruction barked out by Miss Squires to the two separate, silent, lines of Year 4 girls and 'boys', outside Sevington Victorian School.
Dressed up as Victorians, and with new Victorian names, the girls, accompanied by Sir Marshall, Ma'am Grosscurth and Ma'am Henshaw had walked through the wet and misty village of Sevington, towards the school. The sound of the school bell echoed around them as they anxiously awaited the hand and boot inspection.
Each child received a Victorian penny before marching into the schoolroom where the boys and girls were sat on separate benches, the register was taken, and the pennies collected before everyone stood to sing 'All things bright and beautiful', this was followed by a prayer and a bible reading.
The monitors handed out slates and slate pencils before the lessons in the Three Rs (reading, writing and arithmetic) commenced. Chanting of the 12 times tables helped the children to understand the Victorian money system, which in turn enabled them to do their addition sums involving pounds, shillings and pence. The left handed members of the class were 'strongly encouraged' to write with their right hand and copperplate writing was practiced in their copy books.
The girls and boys were then separated, the girls learning how to carry out the daily 'chores' of cleaning, cooking and washing in the kitchen and laundry room as well as learning how to make their own lavender bags whilst sitting by the fire in the parlour. The boys had the opportunity for drill and marching outside, before making beeswax candles and learning some basic carpentry skills.
A victorian style packed lunch was then eaten in the schoolroom before everyone headed out for playtime. The girls and boys remained separate, playing with gender appropriate toys in their own playgrounds. The boys played with hoops and sticks before moving on to a game of cricket, whilst the girls hula hopped and played on hobbie horses.
The scholars re-entered the school room for the afternoons lessons on reading and posture, unfortunately some of them forgot the Golden Rule of 'Children should be seen and not heard' and therefore Miss Squire was required to use her 'articles of correction.' The 'dunce' hat was explained, as well as the finger stocks, backboards and of course the dreaded cane.
All the scholars had the chance to spend their Victorian pennies in the emporium before biding 'Good Afternoon' to Miss Squires and walking back through the village to get the coach home.
The trip gave the children an amazing insight into life of a Victorian school child, as well as that of a maid or carpenters' boy. It also gave everyone great inspiration for the term's history topic.