Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teachers' Notes

Resource created by Lucie Wade.

This resource explores what happened to children in Leeds who broke the law during Victorian times and the early 20th Century.

A Global View

The Reformatory Schools Act was passed in 1854. In the same year, Lincoln University was founded in Pennsylvania, America’s first degree-awarding university for black male students. Planning also began for the construction of the Suez Canal, which transformed travel and trade between east and west by connecting the Mediterranean and Red Seas. Russia was also fighting the Ottoman Empire, Britain, Sardinia and France in the Crimean War. It was in this year that the British cavalry suffered a heavy loss in the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade, part of the Battle of Balaclava.

Curriculum Links

  • KS2 History: Local Study, Theme extending knowledge beyond 1066
  • KS2 English: Planning, drafting and writing; Reading aloud; Listening; Evaluating and debating
  • KS2 PSHE: Relationships, Rights, Responsibilities, Community and Global Citizenship
  • KS2 Citizenship
  • SMSC: British Values

Activity and Discussion Ideas

Look at the Admissions Record for Albert Taylor

  • What age was Albert when he was sentenced to stay at Reformatory School for Boys?
  • How tall was Albert when he was 15? Find out what the average height of a 15 year old boy is today. Is there a difference? What could the reasons for this difference be?
  • What crime did he commit? Did he deserve his punishment? How do you think he felt about his punishment?
  • Why was he described as being of ‘bad’ character?
  • Describe Albert to your partner. What did he look like? What kind of person do you think he is? Explain why.
  • Compare the two images of him at 15 and 19. Does he look different? How might he have been feeling as each picture was taken? Look into his eyes. Imagine you are Albert and describe your feelings – you could write a diary entry for each picture?  What do you think would happen if Albert was caught begging today?  

Look at the Admissions Record for Annie Hornby

  • How old was she when she was admitted into Leeds Girls Reformatory School?
  • How can we tell that Annie’s mother had died?
  • What do you think life at home would be like for Annie?
  • What crime did she commit? Do you think she had done anything wrong? Why?
  • Annie could have been given a sentence of Transportation or even put in prison with adult offenders. What were the differences between transportation, prison and reformatory schools?
  • How would she be treated now?

What are your feelings about the Reformatory and Industrial Schools?

  • Do you think they were good places or bad places? Explain the reasons for your answers?

Why do you think the reformatory schools were considered to be forward thinking at the time?

  • How have people’s attitudes changed towards children who commit crimes and their parents and carers?