Class warfare: a day in the life of a Victorian schoolchild
Victorian schools could be ideological battlegrounds, where harassed teachers did their best against a backdrop of grinding poverty. Ellie Cawthorne and Susannah Wright study an era's education
The 4th of May 1899 was not a good day for the head-teacher of St Mark’s School in Leicester. Less than two weeks into her job, she recorded in her school logbook an incident that had begun with the caning of a boy for lying and disobedience. Revolting against his punishment, the boy had started “flinging himself about”, before kicking her and even threatening her with “a clasp knife open in his hand”. To make matters worse, the child’s mother had arrived at the school to castigate the head-teacher in “abusive and threatening language” before demanding that magistrates investigate the school’s conduct.