October 2013


Are you like me and find that time disappears at an alarming rate? It is so long since I last wrote a newsletter that I feel a little embarrassed. It is not that nothing has been happening, quite the reverse. The website gets more visitors by the day and that is very encouraging. We are now in our fourth year of running the site, and when we started back then we had little idea of how popular it would grow to be.

That said, our Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, seems to have developed plans which would severely curtail our work. The proposed new education syllabus would mean that children would no longer study the Victorians at KS1 or KS2. Instead they would be presented with studying a huge period of history with the apparent aim that it should be tackled in chronological order. The Victorian period would be studied at KS3 but in a more limited and academic manner. There has been widespread concern about the proposals and many groups and individuals have made representations, including one hundred leading academics who condemned the plans, teachers who have condemned the syllabus as unteachable, and the Museums Association who have voiced the concerns of the museum community. The plan has even been described as racist because of its narrow focus, primarily on English history.

It is hard to understand why teaching about the Victorian period should be axed. Most of our modern society is based upon developments in the Victorian period. One wonders what is his understanding of history, seeing that his degree is in English Language, and his early career was in journalism. We hope that common sense - a rare commodity these days - may prevail.

Content is king so they say of the Internet, and we do continue to add pages regularly. We are now at around 300 pages all of them written and coded by me. Not bad for a Victorian headmaster! How about trying out some new parlour games. They are great fun to play with your children. I am also working on answering questions that children ask. It is not quite complete, but you can find it here. I have a lot of other questions and answers to post when I can because I spend a lot of time replying to queries, not just from children, but from theatres, TV companies, research students and any who have an interest in Victorian things. All that makes me sound very knowledgeable, an honour I am not sure I deserve.

On the shop side we have seen some things going out of stock or being discontinued. Some of these changes have been directly through the recession as we see wholesalers cutting back on their range, and manufacturers going out of business. We are continuing to look for replacement products so that we maintain a good range.

We are looking at introducing and offering products for other historical periods. This will be on a new website, so there is no need to fear that the Victorian School site will change. Part of our reason for the extended range is to provide some protection against curriculum changes, but the other part is that we are often asked about the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Tudors and so on. Alan Murphy, our Victorian Teacher, already doubles up by providing Roman Days, Greek Days and so on. The new site will be less specific than our Victorian site, but it could develop if it proves of interest to visitors. We are also working on producing the new site in a format known as RWD which enables the web pages to resize and reflow for use on mobile phones and tablets. If that is successful then we will work on recoding the Victorian School site to RWD. We are aware that increasing number of visitors use mobile equipment to access the website, so we want them to have the best experience.

Thanks again for your support and encouragement. We love receiving your comments and questions.

Noahs Ark
snakes and ladders
skipping rope
http://www.victorianschool.co.uk/school certificate
Penny Black facsimile
bakerboy cap
Victorian Maid

New items in the website shop

Most of our additions have been in either the toy or equipment categories. You can see some of them pictured above. The make your own skipping rope kit is worth a mention. It enables you to make a fairly authentic replica of a Victorian skipping rope. Using bobbins from a mill, and traditionally made rope, the length can be varied to meet your needs. They are proving very popular with museums. The replica school certificate is proving very popular as well, this time with schools wanting to reward their pupils for their Victorian studies. We have a number more replica items in the pipeline that we will add when we can.


Stephen Clark
The Victorian Headmaster