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Victorian Crime and Punishment: Suffolk’s Reform School

This resource uses primary sources from Kerrison Reform School to explore crime and punishment in Victorian Suffolk as it related to children.

Kerrison’s Reform School opened in 1856. Boys as young as 9 were sent there by the courts in an attempt to deter them from committing further crimes.

The resource includes background information so you can teach your class about the school, and suggested activities. A History activity gives your pupils the opportunity to explore the primary sources for themselves. Statistics activities give them the chance to extract and analyse data, and draw their own conclusions.

Your pupils will:

  • Develop historical enquiry skills using a primary source
  • Develop a sense of place by understanding the Reform School was part of Victorian life in Suffolk
  • Explore the links between crime and poverty in Victorian England
  • Make judgements and draw conclusions
  • Select key information from a source
  • Try reading old handwriting
  • Compare and contrast the lives they lead today with the lives of the boys in the Reform School
  • To consider how wider social conditions during the Victorian period affected the lives of individuals

Download the Teachers’ Notes

Download introductory PowerPoint

Download recording sheets (for use in History activity)

Download primary source material (including modern transcription)

Download statistics worksheets:

At what age were boys most likely to be sent to the Reform School?

What types of crime had the boys committed?

What was the death rate at the Reform School?

How many of the boys could read and write?