OT.....Good Old Schooldays in UK

yoyobon_gw
SaveComment20Like
Comments (20)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annpanagain

I was at school in the 1940s and early 1950s and wore that gymslip uniform.

It was very expensive to be kitted out for the Grammar School I went to after I passed the exam at 11 years old. My mother had to ask my father's parents for a loan as her parents wouldn't help. They thought it would make me unhappy being schooled with children of better-off parents. They didn't realise that a lot of my classmates were from working class families after the Grammar School was no longer only for fee-paying students, as in the past.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
friedag

The comments after the article are almost as informative as Ms Castelow's piece, I think.

My two best English friends (now of almost fifty years duration) were skeptical of my claims that I always loved school and I enjoyed hearing about their school experiences. A typical rejoinder of theirs when I said so was, "You didn't go to school in the UK." Well, I didn't, of course, so I couldn't argue with them. :-)

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

I get some mixed messages from the article above. It appears the writer is confusing the 60's 70's, a time when education became very liberal (lax?), to the 40's and 50's when spelling, times tables, listening and being polite to the teacher still held sway!

We never wore school uniform when at Junior school, we didn't all hate 'school milk'. We never celebrated Empire Day with flags, marching etc . . .especially at my Secondary School. Run by RC nuns, many under the thrall of Irish Pres, de Valera, there were no commemoration of Armistice Day and we were sure several of the nuns had been Nazi sympathizers. The Head Mistress later admitted she had studied German to show her support for Hitler!

Nor were we hit, caned, beaten, although my brothers at their 'traditional' school might 'get the whack' with a slipper.

If I had been asked if I enjoyed school I would probably have replied "It's all right." My Mother claims she used to ask us what we had done that day to which we always answered "Nothing much".


1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annpanagain

I quite liked going to all the schools I attended. The teachers were very dedicated and the younger ones were enthusiastic especially about putting on school plays which, being fond of drama, I enjoyed too as a performer.

It couldn't have been easy for the post war teachers who had over 40 children of both sexes in each class to control. After age 11, my Grammar School had around 30 girls only, who really wanted to learn.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carolyn_ky

In the late 40s, my mother taught first and second grades in the same room. One year she had 50 children and asked the county superintendent what she could do with so many. He told her to just do the best she could, but after that year they hired more teachers and had one teacher for each grade. This was Grades 1 through 8. There was no junior high school at that time. High school was Grades 9 through 12 until well after I graduated in 1952.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
friedag

A few hours ago I spoke by phone to my BF in N. Yorkshire. It had been quite a while since our last chat so we had a lot of catching up to do and we wound up giggling like schoolgirls -- reminiscing and such. I mentioned this thread. My friend laughed and admitted that now her 'humiliations' have subsided somewhat she remembers her schooldays more fondly, even rosily, at times. Her favorite memories are of the singing of hymns and folk songs. I can't really relate to that because I don't recall much singing in my schools' first-thing-in-the-morning assemblies. Maybe we sang "America the Beautiful" occasionally. By the time I was in high school, 'assembly' had shrunk to five minutes and was not held in person in the auditorium. It was conducted over the intercom system to each classroom. We students sat like silent toads because it was difficult to hear.

Annpan, what are some of the dramas your teachers were most enthusiastic about? What roles did you perform or want to perform? What little drama we were introduced to was entirely in elective classes or extracurricular programs Still, I think most of us really enjoyed the hubbub of Junior and Senior Plays, One-Act Plays (part of Interscholastic League Competitions), and the occasional excursion to nearby universities to see 'real plays' with a higher caliber of performers.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annpanagain

I remember being in school plays and shows in our primary school up to 11yo. I even wrote one, really an adaptation from a story I read, which was performed.

We acted some scenes from Shakespeare in Grammar School and put on an annual play before a paying audience which was at night on the stage in the gym. I was the Father in Beauty and the Beast. I still have a photo of me in full Victorian male costume.

I thought I was a good actress and joined a drama school for evening classes in my twenties only to realise that I wasn't all that good up against others in the class! It was fun and an interest though. We put on plays, Moliere, Fry and Shakespeare etc. for local Government institutions like mental hospitals and delinquent girls hostels!

It made me appreciate the plays I was able to see when performed by professionals in Brighton and in London. I was lucky to be able to go to see great performers like John Giulgud, Vivian Leigh, Leslie Caron in Gigi (just before she made the movie) and Julie Andrews when she was a young girl, among others.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

Assemblies were a big thing in schools in my youth and required 'by law' to be held daily. Always a hymn and a prayer the 'Our Father' and possible an uplifting story. By secondary school there were even more (RC) prayers, but fewer hymns and used as a time for 'announcements' or occasional tongue-lashings from the Head Mistress.

I think Sec schools are now so big there are almost no full school assemblies just held by class or year group.

Not much drama although at the end of the summer term a production of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta was performed. Once I reached the heights of the Upper Sixth (oldest class) it was decided G and S was too low-brow and they did She Stoops to Conquer with me in a very minor role!

I was lucky as I lived in a theatrical town (Stratford) so watched many productions of various Shakespeare plays (many of the 'histories' very long-winded) and during the Winter Season many touring companies came, among them the D'Oyly Carte, with proper G&S and various ballet productions.

Annpan, we used to see the glamours Leslie Caron around the town as for a time she was married to Peter Hall the theatre director.

The theatre at Brighton had/has an excellent reputation for pre-London runs.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carolyn_ky

Vee, did you ever see Judy Dench perform? I read that she performed in some Shakespeare plays early on. She and Maggie Smith did a two-person play once when DD and I were in London, but we were not able to get tickets.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
friedag

How involved were parents in helping their children with school homework in the 1950s and 1960s? The article about the UK doesn't say much about it -- only that most mothers didn't work outside their homes and they presumably had more time to be involved if they wanted to be. But that was much disputed in the comments section!

My Yorkshire friend says that her mother, who did have an away-from-home job, told her that she couldn't help because what if she told her the wrong way to do something! What would the teacher think of that?

My mother who was a music teacher was a great sounding board. She listened patiently as my brothers and I memorized essential things such as spelling and the multiplication tables, but if we needed help with deeper math or science we enjoyed our dad's help -- and he got a kick out of helping us.


Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annpanagain

I never had homework until I went to the Grammar School at age 11. We had 45 mins at first and gradually progressed to three hours a night by the time I was 16 and being prepared for "O" level exams.

My parents didn't help, other than listening to poetry and Shakespeare speeches I had to memorise. They sometimes were more word-perfect eventually than I was! My mother loved poetry and would read Tennyson to us when we were quite young from a cherished book she owned.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

Carolyn, I don't remember seeing Judi Dench perform at Stratford. Of course 'then' she could have been playing a minor role and her name wouldn't have had 'star' quality.

I did see performances by the likes of Dorothy Tutin, Peggy Ashcroft, the Redgraves and Olivier. And as I mentioned here before my Father was friendly with several actors and would drink with them in the pub and I was at Junior school with several of their children. We just regarded them as 'ordinary people'.

My brother who hangs about on the fringes of luvvie-dom used to let out a flat in his house to 'theatre folk' and has even flown 1st class to NYC all expenses paid to visit the director on a film set . . . not that I'm envious of course!


Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

Friedag, re homework. As Annpan says we had no homework at Junior School and by the time I was 10 had been packed off to boarding school where we did get a couple of subjects a night. We 'did' it sitting in a classroom overseen by a nun. In fact everything we did was watched over. An hour after supper called 'recreation' a time in which we sat about and argued among ourselves as there was nothing to do . . .there was the nun . . no doubt fed up with our behaviour. Meal times were supervised, the once a week outing on the Sunday morning walk in a crocodile, with two nuns at the back. At bedtime and in the morning a nun patrolling the dormitories, even nuns outside the loos and the twice weekly baths.

We grew to be very crafty at getting away from them!

And no! The nuns didn't help us with homework and had I been at home my Mother certainly wouldn't (too busy, too tired). I had little connection with my father and wouldn't have asked for his help even had he been there.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
friedag

Vee, one of my favorite depictions of an English girls' school is in the film "Shirley Valentine". Of course its intent is for comedic effect.

Shirley in her teens had a 'bad attitude' -- she flouted every school rule she thought she might get away with. She modified her school uniform, sneaked a few hits on cigarettes, rolled her eyes and sighed during lessons . . . she even disliked playing tennis in P.E. classes. However, it was her disdain but secret envy of the 'Top Girl' in her class that really irked Shirley. Marjorie was perfect in her eagerness to impress the teachers and the head mistress. And those grown-ups were impressed. They thought Marjorie would be 'going places' while Shirley would never amount to much.

Years later, Shirley ran across Marjorie again. Marjorie was still perfect (in the film the adult Marjorie was played by Joanna Lumley) while Shirley was dowdy and talked to her kitchen wall because no one and nothing else would likely listen to her. Shirley was still in awe of Marjorie and had somehow got the idea that Marjorie was an air hostess because she was nearly always flying off to somewhere glamorous sounding.

Marjorie disabused Shirley of her mistaken notions, saying she wasn't an air hostess; she was a wh**e -- albeit one with perfect diction.

~~~~~~

Do you have a favorite 'school' film or book?

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
carolyn_ky

When I was ten-ish, a distant cousin passed along a book called Mimi of Sheridan School that was about a young Kentucky girl being sent to boarding school for a year while her mother accompanied her father to South America on a business assignment. I was fascinated by it, never having heard of boarding school before, much less mothers and fathers who went on exotic trips. Mimi got into numerous scrapes plus having a running battle for control with another girl with whom she eventually became best friends.

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

Below is an interesting article on 'school stories' especially those of Angela Brazil, some of who's book, possibly dating back to the 1920's I had found in the school library. Obviously very dated but a fun quick read for a 10 -11 year old back in the 1950's.

School Stories

1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
annpanagain

I can't recall Angela Brazil's books being in the Public Library but I did read some of the Chalet School ones. I must point out that our children's library was very limited during and after WW2.

The books I had at home were passed down from other families whose children had grown up. They were expensive to buy and were cherished so I had to treat them carefully. Some books had special opaque paper bound in over the illustrations! I think it was to avoid smudging from the colours.

I remember seeing the St.Trinian's films and still can on some TV stations!

There was a recent showing of The Winslow Boy, very cut-glass speech and stiff acting but interesting.

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
vee_new

Probably the first and most classic school story is Tom Brown's School Days.

It has been filmed many times I think the one below with Stephen Fry as Headmaster Thomas Arnold is probably the best. The book was based on the 'real' public school Rugby (where the game of that name originated) and where Dr Arnold introduced the idea of what is now known as Muscular Christianity . . . so is now deeply unpopular with 'modern' idealists!


Movie: Tom Brown's School Days



1 Like Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
friedag

What did you all do during school holidays?

I remember most of my summer vacations being busier than the regular school terms. I took swimming lessons; did the summer reading programs at the local library; attended at least a half dozen Vacation Bible Schools, of whatever denomination my friends belonged to who invited me to accompany them (they were heavy on arts & crafts, but I don't recall much proselytizing); various summer camps; staying with out-of-state cousins or having them stay with us; and our one- to two-week family road trips, my daddy's special contribution for keeping us kids from being too ignorant of our country's geography and history.

By August I was "po*p Dick Pumpernickel" -- what we called exhausted -- and I was ready to go back to school in September!

Save    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
astrokath

I attended primary school from 1964 to 1970. We had mixed classes (gender and ability) of about 35. We had school assemblies in the quadrangle where we lined up and marched into place, and then marched back to our classrooms afterwards.

Some other memories: there was a programme run by the ABC radio (equivalent of BBC) for school children to learn songs. We all had a book with the music and lyrics and we would learn the songs and sing them while the programme was broadcast in the school room. We also had a choir but that was for Grade 7 (final year) students only.

We had a fairly large library which was mostly run by library monitors, of which I was one.

We had a test every Friday, alternate weeks were arithmetic, mental arithmetic, spelling and dictation, and the other weeks were usually social studies, from memory. If you got full marks you got an Honor Card, a blue card about 3" by 4", and if you got more than 90% you got a yellow Merit Card, both signed by the teacher and the Head Master. I still have mine :)

We had homework from about Grade 3, I think. It was sometimes writing out the spelling words for that week, doing sums, writing a 'composition' as we called essays, or learning answers to set questions.

Every term from Grade 4 we had to do a 'project'. There were several topics to choose from and in those days you could write away to various industry bodies and get back, with much excitement, an envelope with information and brochures. I remember doing projects on Wool and Paper as industry topics, and on the US, South Africa and the UK as geography/social studies topics. I still have those books too.

Generally I really enjoyed school. I had some lovely teachers and we were very well behaved, with talking not allowed. We also had to stay in our seats unless the teacher asked us to get up and do something. The only thing I think my school fell down on was physical education. We played lots of games at recess and lunchtime, but had no formal games at all, unless there was a student teacher assigned to the class.

2 Likes Save    
Browse Gardening and Landscaping Stories on Houzz See all Stories
Architecture Back to the Futuro: Tour a Lovingly Restored ‘Spaceship’ Home
Travel back to the ’60s Space Age with a rare glimpse inside an original House of the Future
Full Story
Most Popular 10 Things to Ask Your Contractor Before You Start Your Project
Ask these questions before signing with a contractor for better communication and fewer surprises along the way
Full Story
Landscape Design 5 Gravel and Stone Types for a Rockin' Landscape
Give your garden design some textural bam with pebbles, granite, river rocks and other permeable materials
Full Story
Pristine Acres is committed to offering the highest-quality, most professional landscape design/installation... Read More
We have earned an unrivaled reputation for crafting the finest glasshouses and greenhouses money can buy through... Read More