Teacher Scholar Programme 2022

Teaching the Voices of the Victorian Poor

The National Archives and the In Their Own Write project are planning an AHRC funded Teacher Scholar Programme to produce online resources for teachers to support the teaching of the Victorian Era.

Using our collection of letters and materials examined by the In Their Own Write project, the Teacher Scholar Programme will provide support and guidance to 10 teachers to produce teaching materials for Key Stages 2-5. There is no requirement to teach a specific subject or age range.

Teachers will carry out their own research into the materials provided by The National Archives and In Their Own Write, drawing on a series of online seminars and using ArcGIS maps of the data to aid their studies.

COVID permitting, the teachers will come together for an initial Seminar weekend at The National Archives and a trip to Southwell workhouse to experience the context of the workhouse and the poor law commission.

All of the participants’ expenses for the course will be paid, including travel and accommodation for the seminar days and the study weekend, as well as the cost of a supply teacher to cover the Fridays. Many aspects of the course will be delivered through Microsoft Teams. This and ArcGIS will be freely available to participants to use with support provided by The National Archives Education Service.

What we are looking for

Poor Law Unions of England and Wales

The Poor Law Unions of England and Wales

A high level of commitment is required from participants: they are expected to listen to all lectures, contribute regularly to the Teams channel, attend both days of seminars at The National Archives and create well researched resources in their own time.

We want to recruit people who are excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with researchers and keen to extend the partnership beyond the duration of this project. We believe participants’ teaching practice will be invigorated by the activities, and hope that they will seek opportunities to share their learning with colleagues within their school and beyond.

We are keen to hear from primary and secondary school teachers of History as well those of other subjects including English, Politics and Citizenship to make this unique collection accessible to as many students as possible.

How to apply

Fill in the application form and email it to education@nationalarchives.gov.uk by midnight on Friday 11th February.

Person Criteria


  • Qualified teacher status
  • Teaching in a primary or secondary school
  • Able to attend the seminar days at The National Archives
  • Commitment to producing new resources through work on the programme
  • Enthusiasm for working in partnership with researchers


  • Experience of developing new teaching resources
  • Knowledge of some of the debates surrounding the place of evidence in history
  • Experience of contributing to the teaching of others (for example through creating resources that others have used, planning for department or year group, leading INSET, presenting teaching ideas to others)
  • Confidence to give presentations in front of colleagues and share ideas through web forums
  • Strong written communication skills

Programme Activities:

  • Introductory seminar at the National Archives, 11th-12th March*, led by In Their Own Write researchers and The National Archives Education Service team members. Teachers will work with datasets and original documents, reflecting on how to design classroom activities which draw on the content of the seminars.
  • A residential weekend including a field study tour of a workhouse, 25th-27th March*.
  • A six week programme of online seminars and activities.
  • Resources will be submitted to the editorial board in the summer term.

*All dates TBC and Covid permitting
N.B. All copyright is transferred to The National Archives by participants

In Their Own Write

In Their Own Write was an AHRC-funded project using letters from paupers and other poor people, and associated manuscript material such as petitions, sworn statements and advocate letters (those written on behalf of paupers) to investigate the lives of the poor between 1834 and 1900.

The materials show that even the very poorest members of society were literate, understood the poor laws, regulations and rules, and were able and willing to resist or contest the power of the national and local state. The letters explain their situations in their own words, providing an invaluable insight into the lives of everyday Victorian citizens whose thoughts and opinions are often considered ‘lost to history.’ The collection itself contains letters from across England and Wales providing the opportunity for local history study as well as an overview of the national story.

Teaching the Voices of the Victorian Poor now seeks to open this database of materials to teachers to inform their teaching practice and to develop resource materials to support other teachers in topics related to the Victorian poor.

Workhouse Voices

Workhouse Voices is The National Archives Education Service’s themed collection offering a glimpse into the collection explored by In Their Own Write. Teachers can explore over 45 letters written by the poor and paupers to New Poor Law officials after 1834. The themed collection provides prospective Teacher Scholar Programme applicants with an idea of the types of documents they will work with on the scheme.


Download the Application Pack