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  Lesson 3 

Printable reports 1885,1905,


Learning Objective: To gather historical information and data using a variety of sources


Knowledge, skills and understanding covered in the lesson

  • Know about the ideas, beliefs, attitudes and experiences of children in the Victorian period

  • Know about the social, cultural, religious and ethnic diversity of the Deptford area during the Victorian era

  • Be able to select and record information relevant to a historical topic  

  • Be able to find out about aspects of the past from a range of sources  

  • Understand how some aspects of the past have been represented and interpreted in different ways.  


Lesson Overview: Children will research the Deptford Ragged School using real archive material


Starter: Recap historical learning from previous lessons.  I.e. memory tennis or history ping-pong. Every child recapping something they can remember form previous lessons. Or mind-mapping on white boards/ points for ideas.

Examples of what children may remember/Teacher notes:


  • In 1844 Deptford Ragged School started by William Agutter and seven other men and women in a small room in a house. They crammed as many children in as possible into a rented room.

  • He was appalled by the poverty, conditions that he saw people living in and was particularly concerned about the children. 

  • Children were between ages 5-13.

  • Children were taught to read and write. They were taught bible stories on a Sunday. 

  • Teachers visit children at homes and see scenes of poverty and hardship/suffering, reporting that there is no fire or food in many homes.

  • QUESTION: Why do families need a fire?

  • Some children were starving

  • In 1869 teachers report that need to feed the children before they teach them. They feed the children bread and soup.

  • The children are often described as badly behaved and rebellious.

  • Classes were sometimes disrupted by troublemakers. On occasions mud and stones were thrown at the teachers, and mice and birds brought into school and let loose 

  • A retired policeman was hired as a doorkeeper to help keep things in control.

  • The Deptford Ragged School often provided clothes and blankets for the children and their families.

  • The Deptford Ragged School ran a sewing club for girls to make and repair clothes

  • The Deptford Ragged School ran a Boot Club for families to save up for clothes and boots

  • Grocery, coal and hospital tickets given out to those in most need. Hospital tickets taken to Miller Hospital in Greenwich for medical care. 

  • Hospital treatment needed to be paid for. The Deptford Ragged School also paid for a doctor for some children to give medical help to those who could not afford it. 

  • The Deptford Ragged School ran an employment agency for girls leaving school and looking for work. Mostly going into service as a maid or servant. 

  • 1846 too many children came to the Deptford Ragged School so it moved to a larger room above a stable in Giffin Street. Now 80 children came to the school. 

  • 1851: began to teach adults as well, in the evenings, as many adults could not read and write. 

  • 1859 400 children were taken to a field in Brockley as a school trip/treat. To get some fresh air in the country.

  • 1886 a bigger new building in Giffin Street is built specially for the Deptford Ragged School. 170 children attending each day.

  • 1914 Second building built in Hales Street, called the Princess Louise Institute after its patron, Princess Louise..


Each year the Deptford Ragged School produced a report describing what had happened at the school during the year. There are many reports in the Deptford Ragged School Archive. This project uses these reports as historical sources to learn about the life of Victorian children in Deptford.


Main lesson

Students research annual reports to answer the questions below. 

Downloadable printable excerpts from reports x7: 18851905 ,1910, 1913,1913 (Images),1925, 2007


Model to the children locating evidence and applying their findings to the relevant questions.

Downloadable printable worksheet to answer the following questions.

  1. What is the Deptford Ragged School?

  2. What were the children like who went to the Deptford Ragged School?

  3. What activities and lessons were run by the Deptford Ragged School?

  4. What interesting facts have you found out about the Deptford ragged School?


Further Questions

  • Who started the Deptford Ragged School and why?

  • What did children learn?

  • What were the children like?

  • What did the teachers think of the children

  • What were the teachers like? 

    Challenge the children to use evidence from the sources to back up their answers.

Whole class feedback

Children to share interesting information they have learnt and what that tells them about the lives of the children. 


Extension activities

  • Children could fill out a Venn diagram comparing the Deptford Ragged School children to modern day school children

  • Children could complete a Carroll diagram as above with positives and negatives about the lives of Victorian children and modern day children.

  • Children could complete a role on the wall for either a student at the school or for the school ( what the school looked like on the outside and what it taught on the inside



Can we rely on these sources and the information gathered today to inform us about what life was like for Victorian children living in Deptford?

Allow children to discus and then sum up how these historical sources are different from the photographs previously used.

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