It’s incredible to think about the impact the Vile Victorians had on shaping our future, from Industrialisation and inventions to setting up charitable organisations. Through our theme, children have learned how kindness and compassion can change people’s lives and offer them a brighter future. After reading Street Child, the children realised Jim Jarvis was more than just a fictional character. The plight of Jim and other boys like him who lived on the streets of London, impacted Dr Barnardo so greatly that in 1867 he set up the Ragged Schools. These schools later became Barnardo’s that we are so familiar with today. Pupils were motivated to create their own videos using iMovie, to persuade parents to donate to this important charity. Check out our Class Dojo stories to see their thought provoking, compelling videos. 

Before half term children were delighted to experience a Victorian afternoon tea. Well, this half term, we thought it was only fair for us to investigate how the other half lived! Workhouse gruel was a staple part of the diet for Victorian workhouse inmates. Even though it was decided to leave out the beetles and rat droppings that were often present in gruel, they were strangely not impressed! 

During our theme, children used historical evidence, such as the 1842 census and burial records in Llanover, to understand how tough life was in Blaenavon – Irontown. Families experienced trying to ‘make ends meet’ on a daily basis and had to make some hard decisions about what they could afford with their slender wages. As teachers, we also felt it was important for children to understand some of the economic difficulties we face today. In Maths, the children discussed household finance, the difference between wants and needs; spending and saving. We were very impressed by their understanding and how clearly they expressed their own opinions using our Talk Tactics. Recently, children were given a budget to get their families ready for Christmas. They had to be savvy shoppers and get the best deals. Children quickly realised that shopping around and getting a good deal was very important if they wanted to look after their money and make it stretch that little bit further!  

As part of our theme, children had the opportunity to take part in Discover and Do – a carousel of activities. These included creating their very own Victorian silhouettes, ‘Money for Old Rope’ – participating in a laborious workhouse chore – teasing rope apart and turning it into oakum for ships, along with generating their own repeating patterns after studying the designs of William Morris.

It’s been wonderful to see the children so immersed in exploring different drawing styles and painting techniques. Following our trip to Big Pit, the children took inspiration from a contemporary Welsh artist, Katherine Jones, as well as a twentieth century artist, L.S. Lowry, to draw and paint urban and industrial landscapes.

A visit from Gavin Jones, the Community Engagement Officer from the Newport Transporter Bridge project provided us with a real insight into this iconic symbol of the city of Newport. The bridge opened in 1906 and has dominated the Newport skyline ever since. Did you know it is approximately 74 metres tall, which is the height of 18 elephants or 16 double decker buses!  We were excited to hear that the new visitor centre will open next year.

Through their investigations, pupils were now well informed of how coal and other fossil fuels impact the planet and the need for sustainable energy. By participating in the Reimagining Energy workshop, Dr Potts and her engineers challenged our budding scientists to build playground equipment powered by renewable energy sources. These worthwhile and exciting activities certainly inspired some future engineers!  

A definite highlight of this half term was singing the classic song, ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ to the residents of Glyn Anwen. Year 5 even learned how to use Makaton, so then they could sign and sing it! The residents were delighted with the performance and the children were so happy that they had made so many faces light up.

I think you will agree, Year 5 have worked super hard this half term and have thoroughly enjoyed taking part in a wealth of experiences. We would like to wish you all a wonderful, Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing the children’s excited faces again in the New Year.

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