The coming of the railways

In today’s history lesson we thought about the impact of the coming of the railways in the Victorian era.   Pictured below are early images and photos of Herne Hill station, built in 1862 on the line from central London to Kent and Dover harbour.  

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For many, the railways meant new opportunities and markets, while for others it was a disruption to traditional ways of life.  We tried to understand the impact on the lives of different groups of people including factory owners, shopkeepers, landowners, canal workers, and owners of coaching inns.  

Then each of the children had to imagine that they were a member one of these groups of stakeholders and speak at a public inquiry – imaginary date 1860 – held to decide whether the railway should be built at Herne Hill.   At the end of the inquiry, there was a solid majority in the class against building the railway – perhaps some modern day environmental concerns formed part of the children’s thinking.

Contemporary newspaper cartoon. Of course, people have always worried when a new form of transport has been introduced. We wondered whether the same is true today in the discussion about self-driving cars.

The railways allowed many people to travel significant distances for the first time and, on balance, probably had the effect of moving families more apart.  But they could also bring people back together and – if only tenuously connected to this lesson – we enjoyed this famous moment from The Railway Children.



Steve McQueen’s Year 3 at Tate Britain

We had a very interesting visit to Tate Britain to see artist Steve McQueen’s epic art installation in the gallery’s central hall, featuring 76,000 of London’s then Year 3 pupils, including our class.  The children were encouraged to celebrate that they were part of this extraordinary art collaboration and to recognise that it was the collective hopes, dreams and actions of every young person pictured on the gallery walls – including theirs – that would form the future of London.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Given our study of the Victorians, it was worth remembering that this wonderful public gallery was founded by a Victorian sugar merchant!

Visit from Brazilian embassy

We were lucky to have four members of the Brazilian embassy’s education team visit the school today to talk to the children about Brazil, covering its geography, culture and the Amazon rainforest.   Among many things, they wanted us to understand the huge size of Brazil (the fifth largest country in the world by area) and the gigantic scale of the rainforest.

Size comparisonimg_3008

Trip to Tate Britain

Tomorrow is our trip to Tate Britain to see our pictures and attend the second part of the workshop the class started last year.

A few reminders:

  • We will be leaving school at 9am as we have to start our workshop at 9.45am. We will be getting the number 3 bus and then tube from Brixton to Pimlico.
  • All the children need to bring lunch and a winter coat.  If your child receives free school dinners, they will be provided with a packed lunch.
  • All the children need to bring a back pack to carry their lunch in.
  • Children who are late will be sent to another class to spend the day as we need to leave at 9am.

The children should go to the toilet before they come to school as we will not have time to send everyone before we leave.