This session is designed to support GCSE and A Level Sociology Education option topics and gives students the opportunity to apply and develop ideas and understanding relating to education within a historic context while making use of documents, photographs, books, oral history records and other items from the collection.

A typical visit lasts around three hours and is made up of two demonstration lessons which illustrate the way in which attitudes to educating the poor and the methods used changed during the 19th century and a collection based investigative session that extends the period up to the late 1960s.

Monitorial demonstration lesson

Designed as a means of teaching a lot of pupils (up to 300) with minimal resources and in use at the British Schools in Hitchin from 1810, pupils sit at long narrow desks and are instructed by one Master or Mistress with the assistance of a number of pupil monitors. As well as trying out the method for themselves students will consider how and why this educational system came about and how it was regarded by different sections of society.

Pupil Teacher demonstration lesson

Once education for the poor became an accepted practice there was a move towards smaller class sizes and better trained teachers. The Gallery Classroom was built in 1853/54 to accommodate this and students will find out how things changed once the government became involved in educating the poor and schooling became compulsory.

Using Evidence workshop

This is an investigative session based on original information from school records, text books and teaching manuals, oral history and other objects. Its purpose is to get students to use a variety of sources of information to examine issues, construct arguments and develop conclusions. In this case students will use the information available to critically examine some widely accepted assumptions and stereotypes relating to gender and discipline that exist and are perpetuated with regards to the history of education.


Up to 50 students can be comfortably accommodated on this programme.

The visit will start with a brief introduction followed by the Monitorial demonstration lesson. After the Monitorial session groups with more than 25 students will be split into two groups one to do each additional session before swapping over. If you are bringing 25 students or fewer it is up to you which order the remaining sessions are delivered in.

Each session takes around an hour and a 10-15 minute break is typically incorporated into the using evidence workshop.