One of the options in the new KS2 curriculum is Victorian Britain (11a):
A study of the impact of significant individuals, events and changes in work and transport in the lives of men, women and children from different sections of society
The curriculum suggests two approaches to this subject:
Under the first approach, Florence Nightingale and her role in the Crimean War is proposed as a topic. The curriculum also suggests Mary Seacole who took an interest in soldiers' welfare during the same conflict. She was not only a woman working in a man's world, but black, too. Another Victorian woman who deserves to be better known is Emily Hobhouse who highlighted the plight of Boer women and children (28 000 died) in British concentration camps during the South African War.
Under the second approach, the curriculum suggests looking at service in the army (or the navy, if you prefer). This would be a worthwhile topic to study, particularly as it could highlight the great technological changes that occurred during Victoria's reign (1837 to 1901). In the 1830s the army was clothed and equipped and moved and fought much as it had done 20 years before at the battle of Waterloo (1815). By the time of the South African War (1899 to 1902) soldiers were wearing camouflage uniforms; using magazine rifles, machine guns and barbed wire; travelling on trains, in steamships and even ascending in balloons; and communicating by telegraph and telephone. But even more rewarding would be an examination of the lives of ordinary soldiers through contemporary writings and images. This is a fascinating area of social history that can take you from Canada to the Caribbean, across the deserts and plains of Africa and the hills and jungles of Asia or, if you prefer, the garrison towns (including Norwich) of Victorian Britain.
Now find out what it was like to be a soldier in Queen Victoria's army...