The theme was inspired by a Wisbech Reads meeting and its starting point was the exhibition ‘The Portrait and Its Uses’ in the Wisbech and Fenland museum. The pupils learned about children, aged between 10 and 15, who were sent to Wisbech Gaol in the 1870s. They met exhibition curator and arts officer Aldo Lerubino, who told them why Victorian children were imprisoned and what their punishments were.
Year 4 pupil Daniel said: “The punishments were really horrible.” Retired police officer Simon Crook explained how the Victorian punishments compared with today’s sentences.
Each student took on the role of a Victorian convict, a narrator, or a modern day child. They wrote their own script to perform in front of the camera in the museum library. The documentary was filmed by 20Twenty from March as part of their ‘Theatre Makers’ project, a six to ten week programme aimed specifically at KS2 children.
Katherine Nightingale, creative director for 20Twenty Productions said: “We all really enjoyed this project and learnt so much, the children demonstrated a real understanding of what these young criminals’ lives were like and they all wrote their own scripts.”
The two classes involved, plus teachers Miss Gladwin and Miss Jimson, were lucky enough to attend a premiere of the film, along with parents and carers. The pupils dressed in their best clothes, paraded along the red carpet at Wisbech Light cinema and were treated like stars. The film was a huge success and enjoyed by all. Pupil Felicity said: “I think the whole experience was amazing.”
The film can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJe7puRe5r0&feature=youtu.be