If we look at accounts of teaching in the nineteenth century, we fi nd they are peppered with references to unwilling pupils being punished by their teachers. Schools are not described as having been happy places. The literature is replete with stories of children being beaten. Schools are generally described as punitive institutions, and we get the impression that they were run completely on the basis of punishment and fear engendered in their pupils. Stories of such institutions are fi rmly embedded in our culture. In fact, Charles Dickens was so concerned at the state of what were called ‘Yorkshire schools’, schools to which unwanted children were sent and sometimes died at the hands of their carers, that he wrote his second campaigning novel, Nicholas Nickleby , on the subject.