An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

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An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 02 Dec 2012, 01:17

For various reasons I have decided to write an account of my education, and by way of that the Education System of the UK, in the 1960s and 1970s. As I saw it at the time and with the benefit of some hindsight. Also, by comparison (and what a comparison) with what we see and hear today.

For posterity then, and that for obvious reasons given the situation today.

I think what I really mean is I would like to tell the story and that I hope any readers will find it enjoyable, or at least mildly interesting to read. So it will be good fun and thus it will be good for me. That's all. It's good to tell a tale and it's often good (hopeful thinking here) to read one too.

2. I have been asked by another member here to do so, as he is interested in my observations and experiences. This has been a considerable encouragement.

I may wander from time to time, drifting off into observations. I apologise if that displeases.

I shall deliberately abbreviate certain words, for the sake of ease. 'Exam' for 'examination' is one example.

Mathematics shall be abbreviated to maths. NOT math! Gosh how I hate that term. I don't know why but there you have it.

'O Level' means a General Certificate of Education (GCE) at Ordinary Level. It sounds a rather basic qualification but is comparable to gold dust, if you like, with regard to today's awards. That sounds rather vain but happily - it's also true! There was, even in the 1970s, a lower qualification for the same age group (16 or thereabouts) which was the CSE (Certificate of Secondary Education). I suppose a theory was that a CSE was worth half of an O level. In practice, they were worthless beside O Levels. Two CSE's didn't really equate to an O Level. It just meant one had covered two subjects briefly, rather then one intensely and in detail.

For instance in O level maths, we had to cover in some detail differential and integral Calculus. It was definitely included in the (two-part on two separate days) exam. I know for a fact (meaning I've been told) that Calculus is not now included on A (advanced ) level maths papers today. Some mind-numbing geometry was included too. In another comparison I recall that local friends who went to comprehensive schools weren't even doing quadratic and simultaneous equations at exam level. To think they may have been just above the level of times-tables and doing long multiplication and division would be horrifying really. I don't know.

Maths is a good example of the dumbing-down of the education system, possibly the best example, although reading and writing to a high standard is pretty darned useful too.

The tale is mainly about secondary (in my case grammar) school education, but there will be an inevitable backdrop of what led up to that, that obviously being primary school education which culminated, most importantly, in the 11-plus exam. For those unaware, the 11-plus exam was sat by ALL Primary School children in the UK in the final term of primary education, at ages 10 or 11. A pass of that exam enabled provisional entrance to a grammar School. In practice, all of the grammar schools (to my knowledge) had a further entrance exam of their own which one had also to successfully complete.

A failure of the 11-plus exam normally prevented entrance to a grammar school and destined a pupil to general comprehensive education. With no proof and not that I'm really bothered I suppose there were ways for failed pupils to go to a grammar school. Bluntly speaking, this would have involved money. It's unlikely that anything other than successful (and so generally good) families will have been in the position to achieve this, were they to find themselves with academically challenged sons. They were few indeed.

I don't know anything about girls' education, in any era, other than anecdotes by my mother. Ironically though, she attended a girls' grammar school, in the 1950s (ouch), which was adminstered by RC nuns. Dear me. To some degree then, we have always shared some common ground and anecdotal evidence. More ironically, my mother ended up working in primary education from 1976 to 2010. As you can imagine, many words have been exchanged.

So as the thread title informs, I attended an English grammar school in the 1970s, from September 1974 to June 1979. It was a Roman Catholic grammar school, for boys only. The entire school - grounds, buildings, all facilities, private chapel (large and magnificent), large private residence, school curriculum, administration, seemingly every aspect, was controlled by a Roman Catholic order of priests - The Salesians of Don Bosco.

About half of the teaching staff were themselves ordained catholic priests, nonetheless with a university degree (or two) and a teaching qualification. They all resided in the manor house (almost it was) which was set within the grounds - strictly out of bounds to the schoolboys other than by invitation. Of course this was only as recent as the 1970s and so the state was involved with our education too, in so far as they funded, enabled and approved the set-up there. It would then have been under the auspices of Lancashire County Council's Dep't of Education, themselves part of the national Education Dep't of government. The school was in Bolton, Lancs, by the way, about 3 miles north of the town centre and at the foot of the moors, bordering some good and wide, open country of rugged beauty and still (today) largely untouched.

The other half of the teaching staff were 'lay' teachers, both male and female though predominantly male - estimate in my time there about 20% of the lay staff were female.

Thinking politically, I actually began that school in the year of a general election which culminated in an infamous Conservative defeat. Ted Heath PM and his gov't, brought down primarily by the coal-miners would, I presume, be what is written for posterity. Certainly, the Conservative gov't of 1970 - 74 presided over the first real economic crisis of the post-war world insofar as there was a sudden cease of the easy growth of the 1950s and especially the 1960s. The early 1970s saw the first ever peacetime oil crisis and the emerging influence of Middle Eastern nations upon Western economies. Inflation suddenly became a word with which I was not (then aged about 10) previously familiar with. Nor it seemed were my parents despite the war and subsequent and lingering rationing. My parents were born in 1941 and 1942 respectively. Dad is the eldest.

I've realised since - these last few years since I've become aware of the term and its application - that my parents are what is known as Baby-Boomers, or of that stylised generation. Certainly, by the time they were 21 years old they were being told that they had 'never had it so good', which was doubtless true. At the same time, both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones emerged onto the scene ...... if that is relevant.

Drifting considerably more, I recall a TD essay in which he notes himself how, as a child, he was familiar with coinage that was in circulation and use 100 years previously, when Victoria was a young woman just on the throne. He could himself use these same coins, as a young person, to buy trifles - sweets and the like. I'm talking about Farthings and Ha'pennies of course. I know he is correct because I can personally remember spending Ha'pennies myself at Albert's - the corner shop in the next street. I still have a few in a tin of coins I have. And as for Pennies! But I mentioned this essay to Mum and she being 21 years older than me found it extremely poignant. Pennies are now of course equivalent to the now also obsolete 1/2p coin. Ha'pennies would be 1/4p, whilst Farthings would be 1/8p.

I was as you may gather born in May 1963, when my parents were 22 and almost 21 years old. Ha-pennies were still in use (and still by the end of the 1960s) though Farthings had sadly gone. I might be correct in saying that Mum and TD may remember Half-farthings, an unbelievably tiny amount of money in today's terms.

The UK changed to 'new money', which was the decimal system, on 15th February 1971. It was a big deal for months at Primary School and we had rhymes to sing about it, tables and charts to memorise and all kinds of advertising abounded. That's how I remember the exact date. It was a bigger thing to every schoolchild than was the moon landings of 2 years (it was 1969 wasn't it?) earlier. A Penny instantly became 1/2p whilst 12 pennies (1 Shilling) became 5p. Even without a maths O Level one can see that something underhand is easy to achive here. Now, even 50p (which is 10 whole Shillings and used to be represented by a red banknote!) is not really worth anything. The base currency is now a Pound.

This also had the subtle and maybe unforseen (really?) effect of dumbing down everyone's arithmetical skill. Where we had previously counted money in multiples of 12 (Pennies) and 20 (Shillings), everything was now done in the more simple decimal system. Must everything always be simple? Less technical? The similar metrification of all our weights and measures occurred around then as well. No more 12 inches to the foot and 1760 yards to the mile. No more 16 ounces to the pound, 14 pounds to the stone and 2240 pounds to the ton. Everything went to 10s and 100s, and the old calculations went the way of the 11 plus exam. Or rather vice-versa. Now we have university undergraduates who cannot add up I hear. Probably not even with pen and ink. As for long division....! And yet we did long division at junior school with pencils and paper!

There were no calculators until about 1973 and they were a stupendous amount of money. Two years later and they were well within reach although basic 4 functional. Then a % button began to appear on the better models. The first boy to have a calculator that did square roots was from a good family to be sure. Now, I doubt that many schoolboys knows what a square root is. No calculators were allowed to be taken into exams. Though see later.*

So the early 1970s were troubling economic times. I remember power cuts, everyone on candles, the schools closed down, no petrol (gas) pumps working at the garage, all kinds of disruption. Fortunately, few people had a freezer. These situations all stemmed from mainly labour disputes in origin. It brought down a government although a government that nonetheless had just signed us into what is now the EU, though it didn't topple a government for that reason.


However, for the purposes of this tale, another big thing on the opposing party election manifestos was that of secondary education. Certainly it was a big thing in our house because Mum and Dad talked about it and explained it to me. I suppose this was the age of my first awareness of real politics - aged 10 or 11. Certainly it was the first time I perceived that politics may directly affect me.

Basically the Labour governmentt in opposition had declared their intent to abolish entirely the 11 plus exam and so eventually as good as dismantle the grammar school system. Left-wingery in its most pernicious form - destroy education. Attended by all the bleating and hand-wringing about 'elitism' and fairness and the poor and downtrodden. Even back then, I instinctively knew this view was wrong and I really do hope that this wasn't just due to naked self-interest. I wasn't that cynical then - I was only 9 or 10 years old, as the debates were occurring. I just knew that Labour were so obviously wrong.

The Conservative party were against the idea and, as far as I'm aware, included the intention to retain the system in their pledges. Quite how much, if at all, this issue swung the voters in the general election is beyond my ken, but I rather suspect the Labour proposition seduced a large part, in part, of an increasingly resentful and expectant electorate. The perceived economic woes were the main reason though and of course, the electorate are fickle.

Labour won the 1974 general election and pushed through without delay their reforms or rather deforms. The year I sat the 11 plus exam, 1974, was the penultimate year, as far as I am aware. By 1976, it was no more. I presume, though am not sure because I was already 'in', that all pupils of 1976 or later could only enter our Grammar School by way of the school Entrance Exam. At the same time, the geographical location of a pupil's home was tightened. I lived about 10 miles from school and the only way pupils so far afield were allowed to apply to such schools was by way of the 11 plus exam. So it had been all over the UK for decades. If I had been 2 years younger, I would never have gone to that (or maybe any) grammar school, no matter my ability because there was no mechanism to get there.

My parents, or rather more my mother, wished for me to attend that particular school, to some degree because of the religious angle, but more definitely because it was a good and reputable school in all ways....... maybe because of the religious angle I'm now more and more convinced.

I think I should consider the above as an introduction. I have rambled a bit. I shall return with Part 1 soon and attempt to be more linear and chronological.

Thank-you.
Paul
 
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Jonathan » 02 Dec 2012, 14:45

Hi Paul,

After going through the introduction, I'm definitely hoping to read part One. I'm sure that reading an organized, chronological description of a Grammar School education will give me occasion to reflect on my own education.
Jonathan
 
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Tom » 02 Dec 2012, 15:00

Paul, I’m delighted to hear that you intend to write an account of your schooling in the 1970s. I shall be fascinated. My experiences have prejudiced me against the grammar school system, and I hope it doesn’t appear that I’m stealing your thread if I explain why.

I was born in 1967: four years after you, and I went to a comprehensive school. It was lucky for me that I did because I was an educational anomaly. My mathematical abilities are much stronger than my language abilities. (I imagine you reading my prose and saying ‘Thank God for that!’) After a term at the comprehensive school, we had an examination to determine which of two streams we were put in. For some reason I only just scraped the grade in Maths, and failed to make the grade in the other subject that was examined: French.

I was put into the ‘B’ stream, although I believe that I was probably the most, or the second most, mathematically gifted in the year of two hundred and forty. Of course it is a common human failing to over-estimate one’s ability, but anyway, I was good at maths and mathsy subjects. Over the following years, I was gradually moved up through the classes. I’m having a little difficulty reconstructing events in my mind, but my recollection is that in order to have a shot at going to university (which was only possible for a minority then), I had to learn a portion of the material for AO-level maths during the summer holidays before the sixth form started. Fortunately my parents paid for a tutor. This was where I first came across the wonders of calculus -- it wasn’t mentioned in our O level. After completing an ad-hoc examination on my own, I was allowed to do the A levels I wanted, and I did quite well them. The damage from the assessment at eleven was finally erased, and I was able to pursue an education and career that took advantage of my natural abilities.

I think that if I had been born a few years earlier, I would have failed the eleven plus exam, and been put into a school from which it was not possible to go on to university. I suppose I would have gone to a technical college, but I feel that would have been a waste. Of course you can’t give too much importance to anomalous cases when you are designing a system, and it’s possible that other benefits of the grammar school system outweighed its effect on the few like me. Certainly the comprehensive was rough and there was sometimes disorder in the classes, though I suspect it was nothing compared to what goes on now.

Please forgive my digression, and I hope you understand why I have a different perspective on the subject than you.
Tom
 
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 02 Dec 2012, 19:40

Thanks Tom.

That's a pretty terrible (for you) tale of how you were treated.

I wouldn't be too sure you wouldn't have passed the 11-plus exam. My memory is a bit sketchy on the matter but it was neither exclusively formal English Language nor standard maths. Most questions were of an IQ-test type. There may have been sentences with a missing word and one had to insert that word, from a multiple choice list. Similarly, there would be missing numbers in an arithmetical progression or calculation. Probably not multiple choice answers there as there is only one correct answer in arithmetic whereas language can be fluid. There were definitely questions of deduction, a form of puzzle. I liked those a lot actually. I know how they went but can't for the life of me put it into words without it being a written confusion. I only sat the test, not set it. I'll find such a test and post it later. Some of them are brain-twisters, even now I would imagine, but are easy if you proceed through logically. We practised these types of questions endlessly, months before the exam. In fact almost the whole pre-Easter and post-Easter terms of that final primary year were spent gearing up for the 11-plus. There may have been other questions that were statements containing an anomaly which you had to spot. That kind of thing, not strictly maths, english or general knowledge as such.

I think just as bad for you (maybe) was the fact you only then entered secondary education in 1978 (I presume), although the school type is a big factor obviously. Something vital (but bad) happened in just a few short years (latter 1970s onwards) here in the UK, although the planning was doubtless earlier.

I feel this culturally and socially too and have suspicions or feelings I still can't express or even put coherently into form. Some observations are still being made. There will be a benefit of hindsight too but that's all to the good anyway. It is a benefit after all, if a poignant or rueful one.

I am wary I may be biased about this, on the notion that everything was better 'in my day'. But no - there is something there that gave rise to something else whilst other things were lost forever.

I did once smile ruefully myself when Jeremy Clarkson, to a celebrity guest on his motor show, exclaimed - "1979? But that was the year that music died!" You may say some culture too. This is not to say I watch TV (I don't possess one) nor have ever put great stock in pronouncements on TV. Nor do I idolise Clarkson or consider that popular music (and the 'scene' around it) is the be all and end all of things. I wouldn't discount it entirely though.

Some dates (years) and events that were 'big' with me and made definite societal changes, with or without me were:

1974 - Grammar school and a then increasing awareness of how lucky we were.

1976 - abolition of 11-plus exam.

1977 - The Queen's silver jubilee and still quintessentially the same England. Later that year however, emerged Punk Rock, with the Sex Pistols at the helm. This changed and hardened youth culture overnight. Everything in a way, stems from Punk and the Punk scene. But it was enabled by the changing nature of everything and may have been a response (in part) to this.

1978 - Calculators allowed in O level exams, though only for 'checking'. You still had to show all working-out on paper. I was in the 2nd year it was allowed.

1979 - I left school as Margaret Thatcher's government took power.

1981 - Rioting on the streets and England was never quite the same again.
Paul
 
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 02 Dec 2012, 23:28

By the way Tom, if you are 4 years behind me than I will presume you sat O levels in 1983?

You did say O levels and not CSEs. Is that correct? The way I remember it, only grammar schools did exclusive GCE O Levels. In fact CSEs weren't entertained at all. Comprehensives did mainly CSEs but could set O levels as well if merited.

Were they still GCE O levels then? Was the following qualification a 2-year study (usually) for GCE A levels?

You did mention AO level maths. Was that a typo (I presume not) and if not what is AO? I know it seems explanatory (a halfway between O and A level award) but if so, how did this fit in?

Why did you have to take this (after O levels) as an enabler for university? I presume you were only aged 16 at this time and so 2 years (or more if re-sitting exams) away from university anyway. And why only in maths? What if you desired, even (or especially, when one is expected to make choices) at 16, to go on to read say history at university? Why the maths?

How it worked in my school days was a relevant pass at GCE O level (but not CSE) enabled a continuation at 6th form level (aged 16 - 18) to do that A level. There was a lower 6th Form and a higher 6th Form representing the 2 extra years. Nonetheless I think 3 (or it may have been 4) O level passes were required to stay on to the 6th form. There, one would study for 2 or 3 or even rarely 4 A levels. Some A levels might be available for subjects that weren't available at O Level. You would have to have an O level or two in a roughly related subject to study this. The curriculum could be roughly translated into sciences & humanities anyway.

All the above was the situation at my grammar school however. I'm not sure about other schools.

It was the A level passes that determined entry to Uni. Most of the better universities required 3 A level passes, certainly for the more rigourous degree courses.

From what I understood about our local comprehensives, if a pupil was particularly good at a certain subject(s), they might be entered for the O level instead of the CSE. There was some fee-paying for this, maybe borne by the school but maybe also by parents. There must have been a need for a pupil (amd parents) to undertake more study and tuition to make up for what wouldn't have been taught in general class. I imagine this would have been quite difficult, or at least more difficult.

There was no fee-paying for any O or A level at grammar school.

I also consider that there may have been differences between different Education Authorities and that over different times too.

Also, post changes (scaling down dramatically of grammar schools) and pre further changes (abolition of full O levels) must have been a confusing time.
Paul
 
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 03 Dec 2012, 00:35

Thanks Jonathon.

I take it to mean that the introduction was disorganised (with an s) and non-chronological, and one had to 'go through' it, an activity that sounds onerous? Hmm, I'm not over-confident about this. I fear I may be too old and have too much of a rambling style. Still .......

Part One.

I was born in May 1963 (a baby-boom ironically) and attended my first primary school in August 1967. This was a lovely small school of only three classes (years) which was known as Infant School. The building was very modern at the time and still looks modern enough today. It was completed in 1966, so was only a year or so old when I began there. It was a co-educational school - ie, boys and girls.

All I can remember about the academic side of things is that we only really tackled the three Rs - reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. I recall visits out to the land surrounding the playground doing little bits of nature studies. It was a Christian school of course (I knew of none other) and was denominationally RC, as opposed to C of E.

Every morning we had assembly in the school hall. All the pupils were there in neat rows, according to year and it was standing only. You didn't just turn up at the hall as and when you arrived at school (though always before 9am obviously). You were deposited at the school gates (or you walked there when older) and made your way down the path to the playground. Quite possibly we were allowed inside to sit in our classrooms if it was raining heavily, but it probably had to be heavily. Snow outside or strong winds were no excuse for going indoors before the appointed time, likely to be 08:55. A bell was rung to summon us to duty. Then we all had to troop inside, down the central hallway and into the hall, all in orderly fashion, two abreast. No talking.

The headmistress was in prime position facing the assembled pupils and she stood also. Announcements were made, general accusations were cast and pupils would be named and shamed. Then a hymn was sung by all, before we trooped out, again in an orderly fasion (it was modelled I suppose on a military drill .... or just good order in fact) to our classes.

Once we entered school from the playground and throughout the assembly process and beyond there was no talking allowed, except to teachers. Obviously this (and other general rules) was probably not utterly rigid with the little mites in class 1 (I was only just over 4 years old), but by class 3, you had been smartened up pretty well indeed.

The school hall also doubled as the dining room for the entire school and staff. Attached to the hall was a kitchen facilty, run by several cooking staff. We had to arrive at the dining room in similar orderly fasion as assembly and leave in the same way. We were allowed to talk however at lunch time.

School dinners in the 1960s, another subject entirely almost. Who wants to know? They were brilliant really, thinking back. But I never could handle pink or brown (choccy) custard. Something about it gave me the creeps, whereas normal yellow custard was ok by me. The pink custard (very, very occasionally brown chocolate custard) was supposed to be a treat and was given randomly, though occasionally. Not to me it wasn't.

Plenty of mashed or boiled potatoes, lots of greens (meaning cabbage and peas) but good amounts of meat too. I think we had liver occasionally and heart more often. Plenty of stews and pies in trays with nice pastry atop. There were cheesy flans too. The puddings were obviously the best and are legendary. Manchester Tart, Jam and Coconut Flan, Rice Pudding, Semolina, (erm - Sago - also creepy stuff), Treacle Tart and more. Spotted Dick anyone?

Oh yes, we always had a fish dish on Fridays, obviously a Christian observance. Fish pie, fish in parsley sauce, or smoked haddock and such. Very, very occasionally we would get a piece of battered fish with ....... chips! Proper English chips, (not French Fries), made from potatoes cut into thick sticks and deep fried. Salt and vinegar. Maybe twice a year we would get this and it was a special occasion beyond most others.

The food was plain but decent quality. It was just absolutely English in every way. Salt and white pepper were always available. I still adore mashed potatoes with plenty of white pepper and some butter.

I don't remember ever having bread available. Not ever.

All we had to drink was cold water. Every table had a large jug of it. A table sat 6 pupils and one of them was designated a 'Monitor', always from Class 3. I eventually was a Monitor when I was older. Only Monitors could pour water from the jug and they also had to serve out custard and gravy from smaller jugs. Randomly and occasionally we would get coffee to drink (but never tea), but it was made with hot milk. From what I recall it was terrible stuff, but we did drink it.

Monitors were supervised and assisted by 'Dinner Ladies', 3 of them. These ladies also did playground duty at morning, afternoon and post-lunch 'playtimes', although 1 teacher was always on duty in the playground as well. Dinner Ladies could and would smack you for outlandish behaviour. Rattle the back of your legs for being naughty, with a firm hand. That's how it was. Nobody was 'abused' and nobody complained, except maybe at the point of delivery.

All the teachers could and would smack you for naughtiness. I can't recall it happened to me at infant school (though it certainly did at junior school years later) but it was always possible. The back of your legs or your bum would be smacked and by class 3 this had progressed to a possible slap across the cheeks. The headmistress seemed to reserve this format as her method. She was formidable but nonetheless kindly. None of us were afraid of our teachers other than when we had knowingly misbehaved. The punishment wasn't gratuitous or inconsistent, nor random. The commonest form it took was being bawled and shouted at in class, in front of all the others.

I'm not sure if playground prohibitions (in the form of detentions in class) were applied at infant school, whereas they certainly were in junior school. Under no circumstances were detentions made past 4pm (end of school lessons) at infant school but again, they were in junior school. I'm not sure how this worked because not all parents would have had even a landline telephone back then. So when little Johnny didn't arrive home on time (I can't recall ANY pupil arriving or leaving in a vehicle btw), because most pupils transported themselves (by foot) to and from school, then what would his mother have thought? Probably - "Johnny must be in detention - just wait till he gets home!" And when you got home and had no satisfactory explanation, then it was another likely clip round the earhole and maybe further detention that evening. Chores too.

It sounds like a Monty Python sketch. But that's what it was like. It was for me anyway.

As regards the food and drink at school I now realise I was born just 18 years after the last shots of WW2 were fired and just 9 years after rationing ended. Add 4 years to those times and I was at school. Ok, it was over and we never considered it except for (endless) films on TV, but it just wasn't like it was today at all. It is a long time ago of course. I've only thought of things like this in the last 10 years. I think we did stupendously well as a country, from the low point of 1945 (surely?). The seeds of destruction were maybe there though already and certainly planned.

Most (or all) winters in those late 1960s years had several mornings of thick Smog. That is freezing fog (or maybe just plain fog) mixed with the smoke of a thousand coal fires. You couldn't see past 2 yards and had to wear a thick scarf as a muffle over your mouth and nose! Everyone had to hold hands to get to school without getting near lost. Seriously. Mum's hand mainly of course.


There were only three teachers, one for each class, with the headmistress teaching Class 3. All the teachers were female. Every class had a large blackboard, chalk and board-duster and vast amounts of data must have been deposited upon them over the years. We had in Class 1 a small rubber or plastic indoor pool (mere 2 or 3 inches of water), the kind that babies have for splashing about with (though not in). Maybe ours was a bit larger than a domestic one. There was a corresponding one for sand. The sand-pit it was. There must have been a heck of a mess every day really, at least for a few months each year. We were eventually weaned away from playing about with water and sand as a greater %age of time was spent on academic stuff as time went by. I think there were other toys as well, little tricycles and the like.

We had plastic coins, loads of them and these were used as an aid for counting and reckoning. I do definitely remember the school getting bushels of what was to be the 'new' money that was forthcoming with decimalisation. This, as I said earlier was not until Feb 1971, by which time I had left Infant School, but we certainly had bags of new plastic 1/2p, 1p and 2p coins in say 1969 or earlier. I can't remember plastic silver coins though, but there must have been some, up to 10p.


{Hmm - even after decimalised coinage, the UK retained the old silver (meaning cupro-nickel) sixpence, which became a two and a half pence coin. But the other silver coins (and there were only three - a 5p a 10p and a 50p) not only had new coinage minted but it was also legal tender to use the old 1 shilling and 2 shilling pieces. They obviously had the shilling denomination stamped upon them but everyone was schooled into realising they were now in fact 5p and 10p. Who remembers this? These 1 shilling and 2 shilling coins were only made obsolete in the 1980s or even 1990s. The old silver sixpence (as 2.5p) went sometime in the early or mid 1980s, possibly at the same time as the new 1/2p coin.

Another curiousity was that the 50p coin came into use from, I think, 1969. It was seven sided as today and stamped as 50p, but for 2 years we used them as 10-shilling coins. Confusing or what? They replaced the old 'ten-bob note' (10 shilling banknote), which I always liked as they were a lovely shade of reddish-brown. They did also represent a vast fortune to an infant.

The 20p coin we now have came much later - the 1990s I reckon. The pound note went in 1984, replaced by the coin we have today.

The old coins that went by the wayside were the Ha'penny, Penny, Thrupenny bit (12 sided, gold-coloured and chunky - my favourite), the Sixpence (in the 80s), the 1 Shilling and 2 Shilling coin and (a good one) - the Half Crown. This was equivalent to 2/6 (two shillings and sixpence) and would have become 12.5p had it been retained.}

So it was all slightly confusing in general, especially for old people and at the same time the government obviously saw the need to roll out the new system in schools, in advance of the change. So at school we had to learn about arithmetic in general but also about money, whilst at the same time learning about the impending change. Like I said, a couple of years in advance at least. We were adding up coins in new money but in the 'real' world it was still £/s/d. Pounds, Shillings and Pence, even though Pence were always called Pennies when in the singular and were shown as a 'd' when written!

Exactly the same thing happened with weights and measures. We went from multiples of 3, 12 and 16 (and occasionally 14) to multiples of 10. I don't ever remember being confused though. I'm afraid it sounds too vain to say that wouldn't be the case today. In some ways, the dual system might have done us all some good, those that had to learn it at such an age.

Depressingly, you will probably find many modernists out there who might insist we were all 'damaged' by this. They wouldn't try it today and if they did, twould be a monumental failure.

We did lots of reading of all kinds of books at infant school, sometimes out loud (alone) in turns. We also did lots of writing which included spelling tuition obviously. That's all I can remember but we didn't do things like history or geography or any real science. It was absolutely just reading, writing and arithmetic.

Apart from ....... we were all trooped into the hall on the historical day and the large TV on the high stand was wheeled out and we all watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon. I'm not sure if this was live or not. Even the teachers were spellbound.

That TV was also used for educational purposes via the 'BBC for Schools' programmes that were broadcast, though this was only occasional. There was of course, no video or recording or anything like that, in a modern sense, though there were projectors and film by then but I don't recall ever seeing any at infant school.

We did have one session per week in the school hall (so it was also a gym) for PE, when ropes and climbing frames were swung out from the walls and mats were laid out on the floor. Also we did some outdoor sports by class 3, which was Soccer for boys and Netball for girls. We played on a muddy field, they played in the school playground. The playground was hard-surfaced (tarmac) and had a couple of iron climbing frames fixed into the ground. I don't recall anything other than minor accidents such as bumped heads and scraped knees. Some of the boys had the ability of apes regarding climbing and plenty of the girls too. I think we were all pretty agile and balanced and fit enough. There was inevitably the odd, sad exception.

The hallway did have a piano within and the headmistress in particular was proficient. I do recall quite a bit of singing while the piano was being played. It was probably predominantly religous in nature.

What else? School milk was still made available - free. It was statutory and almost mandatory. I don't recall anyone refusing milk, or being allergic to milk. Every schoolchild, until aged 16, received 1/3 of a pint of fresh pasteurised milk in the quaintest of little glass bottles. We all were given a paper straw and drunk it this way through a pierced foil top. There were 'Milk Monitors', probably 2 per class that had to organise the milk scene. Handing out the bottles, collecting the empties and probably carrying in the crates (and out again) between the two of them. I don't remember teachers ever carrying crates of milk (they were ladies anyway) and there was nobody else present. It would have been 2 boys carrying the crates and probably 2 loudmouths - who unfortunately often tend to be the largest. So they were put to task.

We did always have a school nativity play in the week before Christmas and parents were invited to watch. Most mothers used to attend. I was once one of the 3 Magi and it was a nerve-wracking experience. Costumes on and everything. A big heavy crown that you were terrified about in case it should fall off. We also had Xmas dinner one of the days in the week before the holidays, probably the last day which would be a Friday. After this meal we all had to line up and walk past the serving hatch and thank all the kitchen ladies who cooked for us. You had to know all their surnames and with a Mrs or Miss attached had to say thank-you.

I went 50 yards up the road (actually nearer to home) in August 1970 to attend the junior school for four years. This was in an older (built 1873) and sturdier building of red bricks, with high ceilings and large windows. It was demolished in 1996. which I thought was very sad.

We did however, as juniors, all troop down the road every day for lunch to the infant school I had left, as the kitchen and dining facilities were more modern. In fact the junior school didn't have kitchen facilities of any kind, except for a tea machine in the staff room.

The walk down the (residential) road involved crossing to the other side. We walked two abreast. Any fooling about on the pavement or in any way at the point of crossing was dealt with in the 'ton of bricks' style, there and then and then again back at School. No exceptions just because you might be a girl (though not me obviously!). We therefore lunched with the infants, thus 7 years of classes in the large hallway/dining room. Juniors were all to one side of the room and we appointed (or teachers did) our own Monitors.

The juniors also had to walk down the road to use the fields, mainly again boys for football. The infant school actually bordered farmland (still does but is now combined infant/junior) with the road being a virtual cul-de-sac ..... other than it enters an old pathway that leads past the farmyard and house and into open country.

Corporal punishment at junior school was more severe. There was a headmaster who was the main providor for major offences. Punishment for this usually occurred in his office but for especially heinous offences could occur at morning assembly (junior school had a hall too) in front of the whole school. For boys it was a slippering (like it was depicted in 'The Beano'), which meant bending over and having a crinkly-soled gym shoe slapped across your bottom. Usually hard. It was actually severely painful and was an effective deterrent. You couldn't comfortably sit down for a minute or two. It was usually one strike only, but could be more for grievous offences.

For girls the punishment was having a wooden or plastic ruler slammed across the open palm or even fingers. One or more strikes.

In classes you could also have your face slapped, boys or girls, and our Junior 4 teacher (Miss D, a formidable elderly lady) also preferred slapping boys across the back of the head and ears. Teachers could also 'ruler' both boys and girls in class but 'slippering' only ever occurred at the hands of the headmaster.

There was, in probably 1973, an incident (or a series of them), whereby plastic money was being appropriated (stolen really) by certain boys. Then, even worse, those boys were using those plastic coins in the 'Bubbly Machine' across the side street which was outside the little grocers and sweet shop that serviced the locality and both local schools. Mr Whittaker's shop - legendary. Mr W was an eccentric, impatient and short-tempered old man we thought. If you went in the shop 'umming and aaahing' and not really sure what to buy, he would hurry you along and decide for you! You got a bag of his choice in your hand and your money was demanded. In reality, it was probably years of endurance with thousands of schoolchildren that made him like this. The Bubbly Machine was one of those where you put a penny (or a 2p piece by then....which was five pennies!) in a slot and twisted a handle and it delivered chewing-gum down a little chute. This plastic money was identical in size and thickness to the real thing, though much lighter of course. It was obviously sturdy enough to engage the mechanism in the machine to enable a delivery.

So of course, came the day when Mr Whittaker went to empty the machine of coins. I'm not sure the machine wasn't left outside permanently, chained to a bracket on the wall. There was no theft from these things then, or vandalism. Emptying obviously didn't happen every day so the scheme was in operation for some time - a week or more I seem to remember. There was also the situation that the thieves had then gone on to distribute some of the coinage to minions, probably also trading them for other things.

I can say here and now I was not involved, thank goodness, though I knew about it. Most all of the school did, in horrified whispers. The matter would have reached the ears of the staff anyway soon enough, but Mr Whittaker emptied the machine. The game was up.

School was fraught with utter tension immediately it was revealed. Checks were made on the plastic coinage and they were found to be diminished. Obviously they were - a handful or more were in the Bubbly Machine! The matter was immediately brought to the attention of the whole school at the very next Assembly. At 9am the following day in other words. The headmaster was furious and all the teachers were grim indeed. Invitations were made to confess by all those involved. There was no mention of any mitigation for this. You could barely expect any. In the lack thereof, there was promised an exhaustive examination into the matter and culprits would be found. You knew this was true also. Everyone in school knew about it. It was obvious even then that the full story would somehow emerge.

And so it did. Four boys were identified and then freely admitted their guilt. They were slippered 3 times each, in the hall, in front of the whole school. They didn't try anything like that again - not at that school at least.

In the above case I doubt very much whether any girls at all were even remotely involved. Girls didn't do stuff like that then. They just didn't.

It was a really big incident. But, looking back, or even looking at it then, it was actually pretty good. Nobody got punished who didn't deserve it. There were at least 3 crimes apiece - Stealing from school, stealing from Mr W and (any 1 of) bringing the good name of the school into disrepute/thinking you could get away with it/embarrassing the teachers/embarassing your parents/showing a bad example and etc, etc. Also, by not being involved, one can then be smug and have a feeling of dread glee! Though nobody dared to laugh.

I loved all my teachers. I think we all did. Apart from the headmaster there was one other male teacher at junior school, around late 20s or 30-ish I would say. He taught me in Junior 3 and was my favourite in many ways. He absolutely impressed reading upon us more than anything else. In his class we read: The Hobbit; The Little Grey Men; Black Beauty; The Call of the Wild, and most memorably - Kes. All those books are classics and I could read every one of them again now. Indeed I have done since. Kes is poignant because it was set in post-war Northern Britain and had scenes we (boys) could all identify with. I mean the proximity of modern and growing society with still raw nature and the boys that played within both. I personally loved nature and still do.

All we boys could have been Billy Caspar and had a part of him within us. Thankfully, neither I nor anyone I knew closely had the misfortune of a slatternly mother and an absent father. Some boys may have had bullying elder brothers of course. A foretaste of things to come in greater numbers and a somewhat prophetic tale of the despair as a result. Billy is a tragic figure and a victim of the family he is born into.

Most of the final year was spent preparing for the 11-plus exam. It was probably sat in May. We were handed secondary school preference forms in that year, which included 2 or 3 grammar schools, plus the same number of comprehensives, although non-grammar pupils were more or less steered to the main local RC comprehensive. Religion still had some sway back then.

The 11-plus results were returned in the summer, at which point one's parents had to further mobilise, depending on the result. I suppose waiting weeks and weeks since sitting the test, until the results was nerve-wracking, but I have no recollection now of feeling like that. I reckon I would have known I had passed. After all, I knew I had answered all the questions correctly.

More soon.

Thank-you.
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Rachel » 04 Dec 2012, 15:05

Thank you for writing.

I enjoyed it all but I particularly liked your descriptions of school dinners. They were very like my school dinners at Primary/Junior school (1981-88). It brought back memories. I had forgotton about jam coconut tart. :)

I find it significant that in the 70's you read The Hobbit and Kes at Junior school before entering Secondary school - at age 10/11 or younger. I was aged 13 and in Secondary School in 1989 when we read The Hobbit at school. Standards must have dropped in those 15 years.
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 04 Dec 2012, 21:13

Thanks Rachel

Glad to hear that the school dinners remained the same for so long. They weren't necessarily sophisticated and so maybe plain but (though I'm no nutritionist) I'm pretty sure they were healthy enough. We were certainly never hungry, nor sick because of them and nobody developed rickets or scurvy. Conversely nobody was obese, though there will always be a couple of 'well-built' boys and girls.

We never saw any 'foreign' food, though I'm not saying this is essential. But not even a pizza, let alone spicy food, nor burgers and similar stuff. It did get a bit 'better' at grammar school, though not straightaway. That's getting ahead of myself though.

I might make a Jam & Coconut Flan this weekend coming. Foolish of me never to have made one in all these years. Very simple I'm sure. I used to prefer mine without custard because then it remains chewy, but you weren't allowed to refuse custard (or anything) so I insisted (or preferred - it depended on your Monitor and any lurking Dinner Ladies) on having the custard in the bowl first and the piece of flan in hand to chew on. Yes, even if you didn't like something (cabbage?) you still had to have a small portion and were urged (though not forced) to eat it. Now of course I like cabbage, especially the green, crinkly Savoy type ........ with lots of butter - and white pepper!

The reading decline across the country and over the years is one of the saddest things of all. So much pleasure has been taken away from childhood and a legacy then that would last a lifetime. I realise that many people still read books, but they are probably now a minority. The internet, the world's greatest ever library is, I presume, similarly untapped by the young and maybe the masses.

I would have been 9 or 10 when we read (as a class) The Hobbit and the others. In the year before, we read three of the C. S. Lewis Narnia Chronicles series.
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Tom » 05 Dec 2012, 00:05

You have a wonderful memory Paul. It’s very evocative and pleasant for me to read through your account. My infant and junior school was bigger (one and a half classes per year), but surprisingly many of my experiences echoed yours. A few fragmentary memories of my own have been triggered. We had to wear shorts and play outside in almost all weathers. We played on tarmac and concrete, and when we fell and grazed our knees, the helpers would apply a bright red liquid iodine ointment that stung. I remember the water jugs that we used at lunch. they were metallic in appearance, some were gold coloured, some silver, and some blue I think. I was not nearly as keen on the food as you were, but people were poorer then, and food was not as plentiful as it is now.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that someone with as much affection for the past as I have has become a conservative.

I’ll try to answer your questions about my exams. I did mostly GCE O levels, but I did a CSE in geography, and took both exams in English. My recollection is that only a minority did an O level in any given subject, most people did a CSE, and a minority at the bottom did a ‘school cert’. A CSE grade one was reckoned to be equivalent to an O level pass (C or above). We were streamed quite early on in the school for all academic classes, but remained in our original tutor groups, which were mixed ability, for the register to be taken in the morning, and for assembly.

The qualification following the O level was indeed an A level, taken after an extra two years, and provided that you did well enough in your O levels to stay on into the sixth form. Only a minority stayed on, but I can’t remember the proportion. AO level maths was intermediate between O and A level, but I can’t quite remember the point of it. I think that everyone that did A level maths did AO level, and I think the reason that I had to do it early was to accommodate my preferred set of A-levels: Maths, Physics and Further Maths. I think that if I hadn’t wanted to do a Further Maths A level, I could have taken AO level maths a year after O level, and would not have needed to work in my summer holiday. Also I wouldn’t have needed extra work if I had wanted to do completely different A levels. I seem to remember it seemed vital to do AO maths early. I think I may have been (well) advised by a teacher to concentrate on maths.
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 05 Dec 2012, 01:11

Good post Tom.

Yes, shorts for all outdoor games. Tarmac surfaces - yes. We did go on a field once a week and if it was muddy (often) you might arrive home splattered from head to toe in mud. I only lived about 200 yards from Junior School and was allowed to go home in muddy kit with my other clothes in a bag. There were no showers or other full bathing facilties at either Primary School. Just hand basins in the toilet block. Outdoor games was always the last hour on a particular day. In addition, a lot of the sports activities occurred after school, from say 4.30pm for an hour. Football for boys, netball for girls. Teachers gave up their time to do this.

I always walked to junior school alone. Being taken by Mum would have been embarrassing by then. I lived close enough of course. There was one main road to cross but it had a zebra-crossing right near school.

There was a large and traditional RC church right next door to school and there was in fact a side entrance from the playground right into the church grounds - which had lovely gardens. We often went, as classes, from the school into the church on memorable holy occasions. Leaving school via the side entrance and through the church grounds was however strictly forbidden. The exit from the church grounds was on a bend and so dangerous to cross the road at that point. Tales of road death (of children) were told at some point past - possibly true.

I remember the water (and custard and gravy) jugs too. Ours though were all pressed aluminium, with black plastic handles. There was corresponding cookware, mainly oval casserole-type containers with snap-on lids. These were the same heavy gauge of aluminium. There were larger shallower trays too, for flans and such.

It's the little things like that which are often the best nostalgia. Seeing one of those jugs again today would gladden me.

Affection for the past and conservatism - yes. I was going to ask if everyone isn't inherently conservative by nature, but have to admit there have been Dark Ages that people wouldn't be affectionate about. The desire for upheaval of the system and change is more understandable. We're affectionate about the (British) past we experienced because it was near golden.

Your explanation of the exam system is exactly how I understood it. A grade 1 CSE was indeed deemed equivalent to a 'C' at O level. I remember hearing that. O levels went to A levels. Each level took two years of study per subject before the exam. The first three years of secondary school were all preparatory to that and a grounding in all the subjects one hadn't really covered in any detail (everything then but the three Rs) and Maths and English in serious detail.

Passes at O Level were regarded as grades A, B and C. D and E were failures. U was 'unclassified' and a waste of everyones' time and expense.

Pass rates were: C = 45 - 60%; B = 60 - 75%; A = 75 - 100%.
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 05 Jan 2013, 22:53

A few additions about Primary School that I failed to include:

In all classes at Primary School, if a pupil wished to ask something or otherwise wished to gain attention, that pupil had to raise one arm in the air to attract the attention of the teacher. You kept the arm in the air until teacher noticed and invited you to speak. If the teacher was unlikely to be able to see your arm - by facing the blackboard (and so facing away from class) or because she (he) was head down in a book (marking pupils' work usually) - then the procedure was to raise the arm and then say 'Please Miss' or 'Please Sir'. You would only speak what was on your mind once teacher had invited you to speak.

(I read again the thread on here about reports from modern schools and find it crazy that today the teacher has to raise his/her arm so as to be given permission to speak ..... by the pupils!)

Talking in class between pupils was strictly forbidden, except for lessons that were specifically group activities. There were occasions where some work might be arranged so that it was completed by pairs. Usually the pairings were one boy and one girl, as far as the gender mixture allowed. Unauthorised talking was first warned against and if it persisted, a slap would be forthcoming. Persistent unruly offenders probably got the slap without the warning.

I remember all seven classes (years) of Primary School consisted of about 30 pupils. There may have been up to 33 or as low as 28 in some years, and in years above or below your own, but 30 strong was the general target or allowance. They were all more or less evenly matched between boys and girls.

(One now keeps hearing that classes are too large. They may even have up to 30 pupils! One of those Guardian comments in the 'Dumbing down of children' thread says the same. How few pupils per teacher do people expect there to be? Ten? Five?

It's the pupils who are supposed to be doing the work, not the teacher. All teacher has to do most of the time is tell them what to do. Of course a trained person can deliver a message or training or instruction to 30 people, especially children. Normally all that's needed is a good voice and a large blackboard and chalk. Of course the audience has to be quiet and concentrating and absolutely not distracting others.

It so happens that Grammar School also had an average of 30 pupils per class, though they didn't seem to allow it to get much over that. I think my form class had 31 pupils for all four years, though individual subjects (at O level years) may have been less. Even if you were sat on the back row of the class you could still easily see the blackboard, easily hear teacher's voice (definitely so on some occasions!) and just as importantly, you were still easily within range of the heavy wooden board-duster, when it was flung at you, by certain teachers, for misbehaviour!)

Back to Junior School.

There were sales of biscuits every mid-morning break, which was also the time we got the free bottle of milk. There was ........ a Biscuit Monitor in every class, who administered the sales of biscuits and had to take the money from pupils, record it in a book, balance that book with the cash at the end and then submit all to the teacher. The biscuits were only pence and total daily takings probably amounted to less than a couple of pounds. Milk and biscuits had to be consumed in class and we then got a 10 minute break in the playground. A hand bell was rung by a teacher to summon us back to class.

Once, also probably about 1972/3, the biscuit cupboard was broken into! It was a nice wooden cabinet set against a wall with an actual short chain and padlock through the door handles. It was in one of the classrooms - Junior 4. The doors had been kicked so violently that the hinges had been torn out, the doors were then askew and biscuits had then been stolen, though not all of them. This prompted a similar scene to the plastic money incident above. I remember being so gobsmacked and horrified (as was everyone else, worse than the plastic coin fiasco) that it was really quite awful to think of the consequences and the eventual plight of the guilty. There was also always the possibility in mind (and it was mentioned by staff) of the actual Police getting involved. This was simply too awful to contemplate without trembling. For most of us it was anyway and certainly for me.

The class above me in years was always quite unruly and headstrong. There were several 'Alpha' boys in that year. It's why I reckon these bad offences that occurred did so in 1972 or 73. I would have been in Junior 3, the penultimate year, so the class above me were the eldest in the school.

All major things that happened, did so from the top down, which was strongly demarcated according to age and so probably age-status. It was always boys.

Conversely (or not) that class had a 'legendary' football (soccer) team in that their final year. There was football for boys in a one hour Games lesson but most of the competition scene (with about 6 other local schools) occurred after 4pm (end of school) in Spring and early Summer. I remember some of those elder boys actually playing in the school football team whilst they were themselves still only in Year 3 - very rare indeed. When they were in their final year, they swept all before them and won the 'Cup'.

I know it's football and not that important (or worse) but back then football wasn't quite what it has become today. Aged 7 - 11 it was a healthy outlet and there was a good sense of competition and teamwork. In the post Dinner Period (actual break was 1.5 hours, noon till 1.30pm) and the two 10-minute breaks in the morning and afternoon, children played in the playground. Junior School had no climbing frames or other obstructions on the playground and so every single day that I recall, there were vast football matches on the yard. Four items of clothing usually marked the position of the goalposts and the entire school (almost) of boys participated in two huge teams that were quickly selected by 2 'Captains'. These would have been Alpha boys from Junior 4 class and skillful players. There was no question of a younger boy ever being a Captain.

The playground wasn't that large in Junior School, so the entire yard was one confusing melee of boys rushing about. No girls were allowed to participate in these games. Not ever. No exceptions at all. In which case all the girls were subjected to the sidelines and in a few alcoves and tucked away areas on the yard. There was a very large steel oil-tank (diesel actually, for heating) enclosed by brickwork at the end of the yard main square and there was a goodly amount of room around and behind it. This was mainly the girls' area. Any girls that strayed onto the main square would likely get badly jostled or even knocked over. They would also attract the screaming ire and contempt of about 50 boys. The 'football' we used to play with was a small plastic hollow sphere with slots cut into it all round. Very light really. All schools had these type of playground balls. They were only about 3 - 4 inches diameter, about as large as a cricket ball. No full size footballs were allowed on the yard, of any material. They were likely to break windows.

Every year there was a football match arranged in the final week of the Summer Term, just before the long holidays. The match was 'Dads versus Lads' and a memorable occasion. It was the school football team (a full eleven players, mostly or exclusively from Year 4) against eleven fathers who could be persuaded to play. Whilst I was there, the one male teacher (but not the headmaster - he was too old) did take part, along with 10 fathers on their team. The match was one hour long and played on the field at the bottom of the lane. Proper Goalposts and all. It was humourous seeing all the Dads run ragged for an hour by highly energetic 10 and 11 year olds. The rest of the teachers usually watched and some Mums would often come along to watch. Spectators, pupils at least, got free biscuits and soft drinks handed out to them.

Whilst I was at junior school, and again I estimate around Junior 3 years (72/73), the school announced a regular Saturday film show which was to occur in the school hall from about 1pm on Saturday afternoons. The headmaster was always there and one or two teachers. They gave up their time entirely voluntarily to do this. I doubt very much even back then they were officially paid for this activity. All pupils were eligible to attend and I do remember taking a friend once or twice, not of our school, so other children were allowed entry, probably subject to numbers. It cost 10p for entrance. A large and good quality temporary screen was set up, and a projector was on hand. On dozens of saturdays I watched, cinema-like quality, all the classic Disney films and others of that nature - all the classic family films from the British studios. They were always children's or family films, nothing too serious and never slanted so that either exclusively boys or girls would find the film appealing.

What great fun that was while it lasted - for a whole school year at least. It was somewhere to go on saturdays and of course our parents knew we were safe (though I spent 90% of permitted leisure time outdoors anyway - we all did). It was particularly appealing on cold and wet days in Autumn and Winter. Halfway through the film there would be a ten-minute break and the ubiquitous biscuits were again sold, along with cartons of soft drinks.

My primary schools were great. There was no impediment and every assistance towards passing the eleven-plus exam. Obviously I was fortunate enough to be clever enough to pass it. It seemed that on average up to about five pupils each year passed the exam. I think there were only three in my year and the other two were girls, out of a class of around thirty. Ten percent then.

Because I lived outside the usual catchment area for the Grammar School I had chosen, the school wrote to my parents giving a date to attend and sit a separate Entrance Exam for that school. As it happened, my family had a holiday in Ibiza booked (Ibiza wasn't a rave island then by the way - this was 1974 ) which clashed with that date. I had entirely forgotten this until Mum reminded me recently. I do remember sitting in this vast hall, in this imposing school, all alone completing an exam paper. It's obvious, because there were maybe 10 -20 % of boys outside the Bolton central catchment area, as I discovered, who must have had to sit the Entrance Exam too. They must all have been able to attend on the scheduled date, leaving me alone for the school to cater for with a separate test (gulp).

I can't really remember too much about the test at all. It was no doubt Maths, English, comprehension, some IQ type stuff I suppose and some general knowledge. What I can remember is the exact picture in my mind of the school hall and where I was sit within it, at a solitary desk that had been placed there just for me. A huge hall it was, with an atmosphere and the smell of wood polish. It also had a stage at the main end and some beautiful religious statuary about the walls. Also a balcony and gallery above, at the opposite end, all lovely wooden construction.

I think I was half-terrified, with nerves and the sheer imposition of the entire place, 10 miles or more away from home. I was only just turned 11 years old and was never very large or tall throughout childhood. In fact I was tiny back then and the whole upcoming life change was, I do remember, extremely daunting.

I passed the exam and probably had just a week or so before school began. The grammar school always had very long Summer holidays (up to 10 weeks) and never started back until at least the first week of September. In doing so, we had to forgo what became regular 'September holidays', a week or sometimes two weeks I recall, for all the comprehensive schools, who had however ended their Summer holidays 2 or 3 weeks earlier than those at Grammar. It was probably Monday September 9th 1974 when I attended for my first day............


Out of interest, from Wiki:

Events from the year 1974 in the United Kingdom: The year is marked by the Three-Day Week, two General Elections, one change of national government, a state of emergency in Northern Ireland, extensive Provisional Irish Republican Army bombing of the British mainland, and major local government reorganisation
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Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Paul » 19 May 2013, 11:16

So to early September, 1974.

I already had the full school uniform of course. Mother and I went shopping for it some weeks earlier, in Bolton, at one of the only two 'approved' stores that held our particular school uniforms in stock. The colours (the important part) were brown with gold crest, logo, lettering, etc. The tie was equal brown and gold. I always wondered about the very specific and definite instruction (on the directive received from the school) that the trousers had to be 'charcoal grey'. This worried me slightly. I had a vision of some horrible grey colour (charcoal ash maybe?) that would have been reminiscent of black and white films from the 1950s and bomb-site craters. Fortunately it turned out the trousers were pure black - as far as I could see. The term 'charcoal grey' was then a sign of the pernickety nature and exactness that were soon to come. Any other school would have said they were black trousers. If I told my comprehensive friends mine were charcoal grey they would definitely laugh at me. It made me think.

I didn't enjoy the school uniform shopping expedition. Mum was strict and I was pushed and prodded about for hours by shop staff and came home footsore and grumbling. We were allowed to have either white or grey (and they were grey) shirts. My Mum had to be strict and insist on just one white shirt - and four grey ones. My grumbling was to no avail. The excuse was of course the laundering of white shirts. So I could only have one white shirt and maybe I would wear that on Fridays and Mum would have 'all weekend' to get it clean (but we have a washing-machine Mum) and I could just get on with wearing grey shirts and stop complaining. I felt the whole emphasis was that it had to be strict and foreboding and so forever grim. And in fact there was that kind of psychology being applied - I'm convinced of it.

In months and years to follow I successfully wangled more white shirts into my wardrobe and endured my mother endlessly going on about the state of the collars. Yes Mum. We still had a washing-machine. She made me learn to iron clothes. That was a good move I agree.

There was a list of rules and directives already supplied by the school I think. I already knew certain core practises. In addition, there were three local boys, all a year older than me, who had themselves been attendees of the same junior school, had all passed their own 11-plus exams and thence all went to my forthcoming school. So I got some information from these boys too who were now experienced by 12 months. One of them, the nearest to me - he lived in the next street - was particularly graphic about the crueller side of things. He was a rather cruel boy, somewhat of a bully at school I found out (I probably remember anyway from junior school) and so delighted in imparting this kind of information. It was in fact, extremely daunting.

One of the final acts was being trooped off to the barber's shop and given a 'short back and sides' (to a few tears actually) and it was almost as though I was being conscripted into the army or even more - going off to prison! Back to the 1950s ethos again. I didn't have long hair at all, as such, but I came home with very definite short hair. This was in the era, popularly, of glam rock and pop and footballers with long hair. I was quite depressed for a while I think. I really did wish I could just carry on going to junior school. By that time I had loved junior school and all that we did and all the teachers (even 'Peggy' who taught us our 11-plus - a daunting old lady). I really did start to get qualms and feel quite scared at times. I was only tiny too. I must have been. I know that at aged fifteen I suddenly became one of the shortest in class at just 5 feet 1 inches tall. Fortunately (?) I gained another seven inches in growth spurts over the next year or so. But at aged eleven I must have been tiny.

So to the first day and I was roused at 7am, latest and, with my heart yammering like a steam engine, I had to dress in this new and extremely chafing uniform, have some breakfast and was drummed out of the door sometime approaching 8am. I had this really heavy briefcase, a proper leather one, full of stuff already.

It was probably the best part of 10 miles by road to school. The situation was that every pupil from beyond the central Bolton catchment area could roughly be divided into two groups, each living along a residential corridor emanating from Bolton. For this purpose local public transport services laid on a 'special bus' for each of the two outlying routes, in a deal obviously done with the education authorities. One of the routes for one of these special buses ran about a mile from my home. The natural route for me to take was first to take a short bus ride for the mile into my local town, and from there catch the special bus.

The special bus was specific to our school. No other person was allowed to get on the bus, neither other schoolchildren nor adults at all. There was no fare to be paid, the special bus was always free. I caught the bus at a regular bus-stop though one had to hand-signal for it to stop of course. When it did, one just swung onboard, heavy bag or case supplying momentum and entered the melee of a baying, moving mass of boys. It could be fun sometimes if everyday passengers were at the bus-stop and they tried to get on the bus, only to be denied because it was a 'special'. In a minor way then, we could feel a bit special.

There seemed to be a pool of three or four regular drivers who manned the bus (it was a double-decker bus by the way, packed on both decks) and got to know the regular pick-up points (and drops), the familiarity with the boys and uniforms ........ and the known trouble-makers. One of the drivers was however an extreme disciplinarian. Even now I think he probably went over the top. But here's the 'best' bit - he actually had short black hair and a small moustache that can only have been described as being 'like Hitler's'. It was surreal. We thought it was hilarious and, though one had to be extremely tactful and careful, he was teased unmercifully. By the time one was older and used to everything, and much wiser by now, our teasing was probably so nuanced and full of irony, that it went more or less over his head. The result was he always seemed to be simmering on the brink of fury whilst we were all poe-faced with suppressed laughter and sheer 'innocence'. What fun we had with him and of course his name was Adolf. Poor chap and a credit to him - he was driving a double-decker bus with dozens of children on board and there was never once a traffic incident.

The bus continued to accept schoolboy passengers until the inner boundary of Bolton, where its remit began and ended, and from there continued a few more miles, directly to within 100 yards of school. The same service was repeated at 4pm when we returned home after school and I did the route in reverse. On nice days however, I may forgo the final bus journey on the way home and walk the mile instead - and so save (and keep) the bus-fare. It was all of two pence!

From the moment one stepped out of the front door of home in the morning (or the reverse on return), wearing school uniform, one represented the school and to all intents were bound by all its laws. The school tie was not permitted to be removed at any point in this time frame. That was a serious breach of law. You would get shouted at. You could well get slapped.

On any bus (or even in a bus shelter) if one occupied a seat and a lady arrived with nowhere to sit down, one had to immediately offer one's seat and to not accept a refusal. If the lady was elderly or had children in tow, or shopping, or God forbid, was pregnant, then the requirement (meaning the punishment) was magnified considerably. The school would find out with what seemed at first like CIA detection skills. But basically there were enough observers in the community (busybodies we would have complained) who were very willing and prepared to ring the school and report on unruly behaviour on the bus - or anywhere else for that matter. This would definitely include not relinquishing seats for ladies. It happened all the time. Boys were identified by the public because of the uniform of course.

I don't think one had to relinquish seats for mere schoolgirls. Unless one wished to of course! But there were no girls at school so that was all a daunting area in itself.

Being on the 'special bus' actually removed this requirement because no ladies were ever on the bus. No schoolgirls either. The actual situation was that it was more definite 'school' from the moment you boarded the bus and out of 'civilian' life. That's what it felt like almost. You did definitely enter another world, with its own customs and rigid laws.

There were 6th form pupils at the school, those who had stayed on two more years to study A levels. They were aged 16 - 18, and split into lower and upper sixth. From the upper 6th were drawn a proportion who were prefects. They were top dogs in the legal pecking order of the pupils and had the virtual powers of teachers themselves outside school premises, including on the bus. They wore silver stripes on the breast pockets of their black (for 6th form, not brown) school blazers. There were always a proportion of 6th form students on my special bus throughout the years, including two or three prefects. They were the ones who could and did keep some order on the bus. They would slap you if it came to it. They almost certainly weren't allowed to, legally or by school rules, but obviously they sometimes did. You knew this, as a realist - which you had to be.

There were some very agile and athletic-looking (and performing) young men at all times, and one discovered they were also studying A level phsics and chemistry and maybe Latin. And a select few even arrived at school driving their own car and were rumoured to have real girlfriends...... of eighteen years of age, who were doing A levels too no doubt! These guys were obviously the untouchables. They were invariably tall and handsome and there was no gainsaying them.

I never had any real trouble with prefects that I remember. Probably the odd cuff or ear-twisting - for being cheeky. There were some hard cases though, whom you just would never have dreamed of messing about, especially as a younger boy.

I cant remember too much about the hundreds (more than a thousand) of those special bus journeys over years, other than they were noisy melees most of the time. Sometimes I prayed for the journey to be over, both ways though especially coming home, particularly in the first year.

There was some bullying, randomly, and one had to dodge and weave and try not to stand out. But I endured it and did move up a pecking order as years progressed. One also formed cliques of friends who could huddle and operate as ............ a gang? There was nothing 'gang-like' occurred of course. In fact most of the bullying was verbal, almost exclusively and as boys aged it became more cutting and verbose and psychological. One had to have one's wits sharpened and be able to respond. A clique of friends was needed for moral support. Whatever - boys make friends anyway and not with every other boy. I was, down the years, a member of a few small and unofficial, (and highly mischievous) - er - debating societies. We had terrific fun with certain elder boys, the odd prefect and the bus drivers! The odd teacher too.

The worst part of the special bus journey was that if there was any bullying, a boy had virtually nowhere to go. We were all packed into every seat anyway and there were bags and cases everywhere. It was cluttered and was claustrophobic a little by nature. The only thing one could do was get off the bus early and walk home. I never had to do that, nor remember anything like that but probably some boys down the years did so.

I did sometimes deliberately forgo the special bus home, in order to go in Bolton town centre en route home and thence go to shops on the main shopping precinct. Even now Bolton has an impressive main precinct with fountains, stone lions and a grand Town Hall building. The main pedestrian precinct is large and open. I used to really like the town square, it had a feel-good factor. Best of all was WH Smiths who had a main store on the precinct, Even better, the main book section was in the basement. The music records were on the first floor. I spent hundreds of hours in that basement over the years, browsing longingly through books. The staff never bothered schoolboys and of course I did buy a book every so often. I recall extremely fondly that basement room in WHS in Bolton in the 1970s.

On these occasions also, it was an extra relief not to travel on the special bus once in a while. Going home by this route did mean I had to catch a bus from school into town (about 2 miles) and then, after browsing till closing time (6pm) I had to get a 6 mile bus from Bolton town and then still complete the final mile home. This was three buses and would cost 6 pence. Invariably it cost 4 pence and a mile walk. I have arrived home long after 7pm I suppose and in complete darkness and from aged about twelve I would say. My Mum may have worried a bit but I don't recall anything major and she soon got used to it. In Spring and Summer, on Fridays, she probably expected it. Of course if there had been any antics other than I had stated and any kind of trouble, my feet would not have touched the ground. Going to the library on the way home was permissible too and I did a fair amount of this from aged about fourteen. I actually did do homework - what else? It had to be done.

But I did truly just spend nearly all my diverted time in the basement of WHS gazing at books forever. My Mum knew it was true and in fact saw the books I sometimes bought. I got quite well into Dennis Wheatley novels (still am) and Mother began to disapprove because she knew there was an 'occult' element to (some of) the books. So I had to also buy the non-occult stories as well and dupe my mother into acceptance! But of course I soon found out they were great novels too and are very good in an historical sense and over the years devoured almost every one of them.

Dennis Wheatley was an old conservative, a royalist and definitely far too right-wing for today. His views are spread throughout his writings and his heroes and main characters always fit the mould. I thought they were great men and women and loved to read of their exploits, and against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars or World War Two. A great quote that Wheatley has one of his main characters often use (it's in virtually every book) is:

'If a man is not a communist by the time he is twenty, then he does not have a heart. If a man is still a communist by the time he is thirty then he does not have a head!" ('I of course never had a heart', murmured the old duke sagely). I always liked coming across that quote and the riposte and would chuckle to myself. Monsignor le Duc de Richlieu was a hero of mine, a French Royalist exiled in London who was always on the right side and was extremely learned. I might think of him to while away the boring bus journeys.

Back to school: I can't specifically remember the first day exactly. I know I had full uniform on and was probably terrified. So much I've managed to bury the memory. I did catch the special bus and sat on the first available seat, clutching my case (for dear life). I probably got questioned quite quickly, by older boys. Three of them a year older knew me of course. It was probably raining. Lancashire in September, wet autumnal leaves (that seemed to fall earlier in those days) all over the floor, everything damp and dreary - grey in fact.

I was already allocated to 1 Gamma - my form class. Each year (of five mandatory years) had four form classes - Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. I was always in Gamma for a whole five years. So I had to find and report to 1 Gamma, at 9am, but with an already known-of twist.

The school had a huge hard-surfaced playground, enormous, reputedly, we were told, the largest of any school in Lancashire. Surrounding it on two sides were several yards of border (trees and shrubs) and a stone-walled perimeter, on a third side the entire sprawl of the school (all indoors out-of-bounds without good excuse but all outdoor areas accessible - apart from the religious area - more later), whilst the entire fourth side length of the yard was bordered by an ................ ambulacram.

I realised later this was not strictly a correct term as it was not a way of passage bordered or formed by trees. However it had once been so, we were told and those trees had unfortunately been lost in some earlier purge. Maybe during wartime, I never found out. By my time there the ambulacrum was simply a covered walkway of great length and decent width (20 feet?), formed on one side by the high stone-walled perimeter and supported on the other side by regular brick columns of medium artistry. Both ends were open.

We probably arrived on the bus around 8.30 - 8.45am. At the sounding of a bell, probably at 8.55, every pupil had to do one of two things:

(1) quickly assemble under the ambulacrum, in order of form class, two abreast in columns, with each form then demarcated by regular spaces. Like a military parade. Anyone at the far confines of the grounds who then could not arrive quickly enough to assemble within a decent time was naturally up for punishment. Probably get cuffed or jabbed into line. Everyone sniggering at them.

What we had to do then is smartly walk down the length, each form class spaced out, with one long column to the left and one to the right of centre. The headmaster, the Reverend Father Doyle, would be standing on the centre line and with his height and his horn-rimmed spectacles he didn't miss anything.

(2) Assemble quickly at the school hall and enter (under inspection by teachers) and take seats according to form class. When the headmaster had completed ambulacrum inspection, which was undertaken briskly and as the first order of the day, he would breeze into the hall and take the stage and conduct an assembly. Sometimes it was very good, with positive things announced and praises and honours might be bestowed there. Conversely, offenders would be named and shamed and given a post-assembly summons to 'my office' (the head's) where definite punishments would await. Boys who had failed to relinquish seats on buses to ladies were regularly identified at morning assemblies, and almost to a soul, they were caned afterwards. That's absolutely true.

Assembly was about 20 minutes. The corresponding time for non assembly boys was spent doing form class issues with one's form teacher. At the end of these times we would remain in the form classroom (or return from assembly to form class) and prepare for the first lesson.

We had morning assembly for three alternate days one week, with ambulacrum walk-bys for the other two days and vice-versa the following week. The assemblies thus were Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, walk-bys on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Occasionally the walk-bys might have been dispensed with and we went straight to class. Assemblies were more definite.

However on Roman Catholic feast days (saints and the like) there would be no assembly or walk-by for anyone in school. It was a whole school assembly in the chapel, where an RC mass was performed with great pomp and ceremony. The chapel was a beautiful building, very ornate and magnificent inside. I wasn't that religious I'm afraid and still aren't, dogmatically speaking (though I had to be quiet about that), but one couldn't help being impressed to some degree, by the whole set-up. You would have to be a barbarian not to be. On these days in question it might be that we did no academia at all, other than prolonged RE classes but also maybe some good philosophical debates, in later years. Having said that, in the latter two years, the O level years, we did have lessons on feast days, at least the afternoons. They didn't skimp on teaching, especially in those important years.

The 6th form weren't exempted from the religious duty though again it wasn't as rigourous due to the demands of A levels.

We more or less lost a day's schooling on religious feast days, more so in the earlier years. The reasoning I could see behind this was that when a junior and infant at an RC school, we would get that single day off school. Protestant pupils went to school as normal, RC's had a day off school. One was supposed to go to church instead. I was usually made to anyway. It balanced out in other holiday allowances non-Catholics were given that we were not - mid-term breaks and the like. At grammar school you did attend on feast days, but spent all day in the chapel and in religious instruction or debate.

On inspection - brown shoes (instead of regulation black) - pulled out of line, probably slapped. Of course the headmaster had a superb memory and would know if it was a one-off or repeat offence. Even a first offence could result in corporal punishment. It may hang on your explanation and how well you delivered it.

A tie with a ridiculously large knot (a 1970s fashion) or one so loose the knot was dangling way down on your chest. That's a slap straightaway. There's no excuse for it, nor pleading ignorance.

Dirty shoes was also an offence. In fact likely a slap. It was your fault, football on the yard or not.

Dishevelled appearance and slovenly outlook were offences. Definite long hair was an offence. Not walking properly was an offence. Slinking and loping along were especially noticed soon enough. Something to hide eh? They would get to the bottom of it. In any case, form teachers marched past with their forms and they noticed things too. Maybe not every form teacher 100% of the time, but enough were around on any one occasion.

And so we marched (well, walked I admit) off to our form class. I was inside the main block on the top (2nd) floor, midway along the corridor of perhaps 6 classrooms, all along one side of the corridor, with high windows looking out onto the yard.

I sat on the far right, two desks from the rear wall, facing West. Naturally that was the front of the class, the teacher and the blackboard. The blackboards were large affairs and whilst some of them were fixed one-piece boards, many were those roll types where an endless roll provides two or three separate writing surfaces. Obviously there was chalk and a board-duster, heavy wooden things made of Beech wood I would say. These could double up as instruments of correction, either directly by being tapped on your head or as a ranged weapon by virtue of being thrown at you. Some teachers had a penchant for hurling the board-duster. We knew who they were. One had to be vigilant in such classes. Alternatively, one had to behave!

There was none of this in evidence on that first day. I suppose we were all over-awed completely by the size of the place and a certain imposing grandeur, and nervously sniffing out the ways and the procedures to follow. We saw some alarming things soon enough.

My form teacher was Mr Boyle who also informed us we would be having his company for Maths lessons. Mr Boyle was probably in his thirties and was a bespectacled and rather beaming-faced man. He was also of considerable girth. He had a liking for wearing very prominently checked jackets. We soon found out he was however a severe disciplinarian. We called him the 'Pilsbury Dough Man' (from a roly-poly cartoon character, made of pastry dough, in a UK TV advert). He was doubtless a brilliant mathematician. Oh yes, he also took us for physics too. He was a hard man and taught hard subjects.

We almost certainly got our timetable for the week that first day. On it every lesson was marked, each a half hour long. Lessons were 9.30am until 12 noon and then 1.30pm until 4pm.

In the form period instead of assembly, or in the quick ten minutes post-assembly, the form teacher would take a register to record attendance. There was a corresponding quick register taken at the begining of the afternoon session.

Most all of the subjects studied had 'double periods' and so were then one hour long, except that Maths and English had additionally more single periods than others. Music had one-and-a-half hours devoted (a double and a single), Religion had one double period alone, whilst Art had two hours devoted (2 doubles). Science had an entire two-hour period per week spent in the lab. This would alternate between physics, chemistry and biology. In addition we had separate classes in the form classroom in each of these subjects. I think History was four hours (a double and two singles) and probably Geography too. French and Latin (Latin only begun in year two) had just one-and-a-half hours each. Games was two hours, always the last two hours of an afternoon and there was one hour of indoor PE (in the gym) also.

Teachers were always dashing about at high speed. There were tight schedules to keep. There was a ten-minute break in the middle of both mornings and afternoons. I'm not at all sure now how they fitted that into the timetable. It all seems very frantic to me now.

When I add up that total theoretical lesson time is just five hours per day and music, religion, art and games take up seven and a half hours, that leaves just seventeen and a half hours per week of academic lessons - less breaks and other little losses doubtless nibbled away. That seems a woefully short time in a week to learn all that stuff we were required to. No wonder then we weren't learning about 'other cultures' or 'how to beat ourselves up by repeating what failures we really are'.....!

(There was no way there could be self-deprecation and more so, deprecation of England or our culture. However you look at it that would mean an inference that the school (and so the teachers) were not good and this just wasn't tolerated. The school was everything, like an entity in itself and it was always good. So then the teachers were good (and they were) and we had beter get used to the idea of being good too and having a positive image, of ourselves and to project into the community. If antics outside school occurred and the children of other schools were involved then we had to make sure we didn't get involved and tarred with the same brush. That would have been terrible. Other schoolchildren might do this or that but we were expected to remain aloof from these things and display our differences. Joining in meant bringing the school into the disreputable status of lesser schools and that just wouldn't be accepted. We would have sinned against the whole school and everything it stood for. It's likely that any punishments would have reflected this all the more. Behind all this was the inference that everything was being mandated by God. There was then no arguing against that.)

Still, there was obviously no time either for the wasting of, so punctuality was rigidly enforced. Being late for a class was a pretty dire offence and would be punished, quite often with copious extra homework. The moral was that seeing as how you might feel you don't need the entire curriculum time to devote to your knowledge of the subject, you could go ahead and prove it by doing an opus of homework. This proposal would of course be delivered in a scathing and often sarcastic way. Or alternatively you were just informed flatly that this was to be the case. You had to be sharp and ready for each class the moment the teacher whirled into the room.

Once, probably early 1975 - I was still in the first year and awaiting a Maths lesson to be taken by Mr Boyle, who hadn't yet arrived. By this point I had somehow manoeuvred a regular position on the front row of desks and directly in the centre. I was in Number One position if you like, right in front of the blackboard centre. Why I don't know, it's conspicuous.

I had a good friend to the right and was chattering away eagerly and probably laughing together. Mr Boyle came storming in suddenly through the open door and, without breaking stride, marched the short distance to me and promptly bashed me over the head with about 8 or 9 inches thickness of maths textbooks! I had about a microsecond to apprehend what was coming and was able to cringe. 'Stop fooling around', he barked and then plonked this tower of books on his desk and spun round to address the entire class, the matter over with. Meanwhile I know everyone is laughing at me! Straight on with quadratic equations nonetheless. That's an enduring memory.

Being late for class because you had been summoned to the headmaster, say post-assembly (could be post lunch-time too), was no excuse. You would be punished again for being late for class. Then, probably the next form class available, you would be punished again by one's form teacher. That's as well as being punished again by the form teacher for any original offence. So if you offended, punishments could well rumble on and actually seem to magnify as they progressed. Form teachers had the outlook that transgressions by pupils in their form reflected badly upon them. As this was never going to be allowed to happen and form teachers were all tough, then it was inevitable that torments would be visited upon offenders.

I suppose that's enough for now. Sorry to have rambled and if I have dwelt more on discipline and procedure than I should have. There were some wonderful situations as well. I will try to record some of that next. Also I shall try to remember some content of the actual lessons. I do possess just a few retained excercise books from school, 1978 and 79, out of doubtless dozens. Woe is me that I did not save them all. How they would cheer me now. Also, I shall try to remember my teachers and their traits.

Thank you.
Paul
 
Posts: 512
Joined: 02 Aug 2011, 11:37
Location: Lancashire, England.

Re: An English Grammar School education in the 1970s

Postby Elliott » 19 May 2013, 12:16

Very interesting reading, Paul. Thank you.
Elliott
 
Posts: 1800
Joined: 31 Jul 2011, 22:32
Location: Edinburgh


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