Human Rights KS2 – stop 4: The Senate House

At each stop on the walk there will be a story and an activity. Worksheets for children to use during the walk need to be downloaded and printed off at school and brought with you.

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4 | Stop 5 | Stop 6

Story Four: Philippa Fawcett (1868–1948)

Nowadays, when girls are good at maths they often go to university to study for a degree in maths. That was not an easy thing to do when Philippa was a teenager. When she was 19, Philippa came to Newhnam College in Cambridge. Men had been students at Cambridge for nearly 700 years, but there had only been colleges for women for 17 years. Women were allowed to go to lectures, and had been allowed to sit exams for the last six years, but they weren’t allowed to be awarded a degree and graduate.

When she was a student Philippa worked at her maths for six hours a day, and even went to extra science lectures because they were interesting. In her spare time she played hockey. She seemed quite normal, even quiet and shy. But everyone knew she was brilliant at maths.

When Philippa was in Cambridge there was a special tradition for maths students. The final year maths students all came to hear the maths results being read out loud inside the Senate House.

Not only were they read out loud in front of everyone, but they were read in order, and the person who got the top result had a special title called the Senior Wrangler. Lots of very famous people have been Senior Wrangler, and it was a great honour. It wasn’t such an honour for the person who came bottom – as a joke, they were given a wooden spoon by their friends – it was dangled on strings off the balcony and presented to them during the graduation ceremony.

Although Philippa was really good at maths,  she had no chance of being Senior Wrangler, because she was a woman and women’s results didn’t count.  HOWEVER, the women’s results were read out in order after the men, and they said what position women would have come if they were allowed to be included in the list. So far, the highest maths result had been between the seventh and eighth men. The university officials didn’t know what to do about Philippa, because she scored 13% more than the highest man that year. When they came to her name, they couldn’t say she was the Senior Wrangler so they announced that she came “placed above the Senior Wrangler”.

It was amazing! Philippa walked out of the Senate House with the Principal of Newnham College, and the cheers were deafening! When they got back to Newnham, the other students picked her up and carried her inside. They decorated the whole college with flags. They had a big dinner in the evening, with lots of speeches, and lit a bonfire on the hockey pitch afterwards and carried her round it – three times.

Philippa’s interest in education didn’t stop. She was a lecturer at Cambridge for 10 years, and she really inspired women to continue their education and campaign for the right to vote in elections. After that she went to South Africa to set up schools in war-torn areas, and when she came back to England she organised schools and education in London. She felt it was really important that all children should be educated – boys or girls, rich or poor, black or white.

She died in 1948 when she was 80, a month after hearing that women were allowed to get degrees at Cambridge.

Activity Four: Education Slogans

You are really lucky to be able to go to school

There are still places in the world where children can’t go to school and learn. Many children would like to go to school so they can be educated, and get a better job, and not be so poor. The children will be asked to get into groups and make up a slogan for a campaign to say everyone has the right to have an education.

They can write down some ideas for their slogan on the worksheet, then make it into a poster on a piece of card.


  • worksheet to brainstorm slogans;
  • pens and pencils;
  • A4 card

Make a placard: Optional response activity to Philippa Fawcett story

Make your poster into a placard, and go on a short demonstration march, shouting one of the slogans.

Stage a ‘demo’ along Senate House Passage.

To make a placard
• plant sticks
• sellotape

Children will stop chanting the slogan and take the placards down as you round the corner towards King’s College.

Background information for teachers

Stop 1 | Stop 2 | Stop 3 | Stop 4 | Stop 5 | Stop 6