Victorian illustration to download showing children at a dame school. In the dame’s cottage with its big fireplace and flagged floor the children stand in a circle listening to the dame, who holds a cane in her hand. In the corner sits a boy wearing a dunce’s cap and another naughty-looking child. Dame schools were small schools for poor children run by women in their own homes. Before the 1870 Education Act, there was little formal educational provision for working class children in England and Wales.