Schools & Education Services

children having lesson in Victorian Schoolroom

Our Schools Programme has been developed to provide children with an exciting way of engaging their young minds with history, and of encouraging them to use their imaginations and powers of creative thinking.

Each learning activity takes place in the Wilderspin National School, a restored Grade II* listed building where education pioneer Samuel Wilderspin changed the face of primary school education.

School visits are primarily scheduled for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  If this is not  possible for your visit please contact us to check about the availability of other days each week. 

There are opportunities for whole-day visits to the School and facilities for eating a packed lunch. Schools can also plan for whole day visits to Barton by linking their work at the School with a visit to one of the other nearby attractions in the South Humber Collection that explore a range of complementary heritage, arts and environmental themes. Details of these attractions can be found on our website in the also in the area section.

Up in the Gallery (KS1) 

This session gives children a gentle role-play experience of the unique Wilderspin Schoolroom and Playground.  They are given pinafore aprons to wear and a penny to pay for their lessons with Mr. or Mrs. Wilderspin who takes them though a typical day in the infant schoolroom of 1845.  This includes lessons on the tiered gallery, group work around the teaching posts and a chance to use the restored playground.  By the end of the session the children will know the differences between their own classroom and the Victorian schoolroom.

History Underfoot (KS1)

Since the School opened in 1845 thousands of children have worked in the classrooms and played in the playground.  They left behind tantalising clues which help build a picture of what school life was like in the past. This material evidence sheds a light on changes in school life from its Victorian beginnings to its closure in the 1970s.  The session is science-based, identifying materials, sorting and grouping, and seeing how things change over time by the weather or by being covered over.

Eyes to the Front (KS2)

This programme is specifically tailored for Key Stage 2 pupils and focuses on a timetable typical of the Victorian period from 1890 for children aged from 7 to 14. It takes place in our original and distinctive Victorian classroom with all children and teachers dressing in Victorian costume.

The Camera Never Lies (KS2)

Investigating Victorian school photographs and re-creating a class image in the 1845 Wilderspin Schoolroom. The session includes object handling and time in the Wilderspin Playground using the rotating swing.

Wartime Schooldays Experience (KS2)

This is tailored for Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 pupils and looks at what was it like for children during the Second World War.
Wartime Schooldays examines the impact of the Second World War on children’s lives at home and in the classroom. Pupils assume the role of evacuees escaping the Hull blitz for the safety of Barton.

Churchill’s COGS (KS2)

In this complementary session to Wartime Schooldays, pupils find out  what life was like for children during the War and how school life had to adapt to wartime conditions.  They assume the role of children helping on the home front as part of the COGS salvage scheme initiated by the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS).   The session takes place in the children’s school hall where a visiting Air Raid Precautions Warden or member of the WVS outlines the work of Civic Defence.

The Wilderspin Legacy (KS1 & KS2)

Early pioneers of infant schooling for the poor included Samuel Wilderspin in the early 1800s.  His ideas contributed to the development of infant schools which spread across Britain and overseas, and still have resonance today.  The session focuses on his life and work in the mid 1800s at a time of dramatic change in Britain.  Wilderspin’s ideas are explored in the unique reconstruction of his 1845 schoolroom and playground – described by English Heritage as “one of the most important schools in England”.  This was a “Model School” used to demonstrate his ideas and methods.  Pupils use the school and displays to investigate the life and work of Wilderspin, and appreciate the impact of his work on schools today.

Train Up A Child (KS2)

Reconstructions of Wilderspin’s Infant School and a National School Classroom of 1897 are used in this whole-day programme to illustrate the great changes in education in the 1800s, especially following the Elementary Education Act of 1870.  This was a significant turning point in British history, providing for the first time, universal elementary education for every child between the ages of five and twelve.  Children also investigate historical sources including photographs and objects that help us appreciate what school life was like in the past.  This whole-day programme has been designed for large groups of up to ninety children.

Brilliant Buildings (KS2)

An urban study of the Victorian buildings of the Conservation Area in the vicinity of the school using period photographs and field study evidence.

Colleges & Adult Education

We provide bespoke visits and tours for colleges and older students, and placement opportunities for students of all ages including student teachers. Please telephone to make arrangements.


To book a school visit, please contact the school by calling 01652 635172
or email

Pre-visits are encouraged to discuss the learning programmes and arrangements for a school visit. These can be scheduled at the end of a school day – please call to make arrangements.