What the Dickens? Miss Havisham takes Islington class

Spinster Miss Havisham taught a group of Year 11 students as a school marked the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’ birth.

English teacher Joanna Smith dressed up and played the character from the novel Great Expectations at Islington Arts and Media School in Turle Road, Finsbury Park, during a celebration of the 19th-century writer’s life and work.

Other teachers dressed as the Artful Dodger, Bill Sikes and Mr Bumble were also to be found prowling through the classrooms.

Ashley Grey, the school’s community arts co-ordinator, said: “We wanted to teach the students about Dickens the campaigner as well as Dickens the writer.”

At the age of 12 Dickens was forced to work 10-hour shifts in a shoe polish warehouse when his father was sent to a debtors’ prison.

The conditions under which children worked and lived were a theme of his writing throughout his career.