Little_Mavis' rants and musings

Infant School


Infant school was a very different place when I was small.

My first school was Park Road Infants. This seems to be the only building left standing of the schools I attended.

feb8001-2I’m trying to remember what it was like but it’s a long time ago now. I think I would have started school in 1958 and things were different then. You may also need to take my memories for what they are, just memories. I haven’t checked the accuracy of any of these. My parents are dead and I doubt there are any accessible records.

The school was infant only and had 2 classes per year (I think) and possibly a nursery class. My first teacher was Mrs Swan who had long beautiful auburn hair and I remember as being kind. I remember nothing of the lessons we had, though I still have a few of the books my parents kept. If I can track them down, I’ll include photographs.

I’m not going to try to make this chronological, more a stream of consciousness recollection. I’ll note things down as I remember them.


The school was essentially classrooms off a single corridor. The hall stuck out the other side and the headteacher’s room was in the middle.

This is from memorypark-road-plan-jpg

And this is the school now


Teachers I remember

Rec     Mrs Swan

Yr 1    Mrs Gelder, Mrs Batty

Yr 2    Mrs Seagrave

Head  Miss Fletcher


General memories

  • No uniform. I don’t know of any primary schools that had uniform then.
  • The school day was generally 9am to 4pm with 1½ hours for dinner. Lots of children went home for this.
  • We had to put our heads down on our arms on the desk after dinner for a while
  • We sat in rows. At desks. I can’t remember what we kept in the desks. I don’t remember playing. Except at playtime.
  • We were given halibut oil capsules to take with our milk. They tasted vile
  • We had a maypole & learned dances  like these. It had red, blue, yellow & green ribbons. Boys held blue or green, girls held red or yellow.
  • We had a May Queen, though I only remember this in the first year I was there. I have a photo somewhere I’ll dig it out.
  • There were cupboards at the back of the hall with things to play with. I think we only got them out for wet play which was in the hall (maybe). These included wooden stilts like these or others made from Golden Syrup tins with strings through, hula hoops etc.
  • I seemed to spend a lot of time in year 1 standing behind the blackboard as a punishment for something (I really can’t remember the details but I think it was to do with disagreements with another child)
  • The year 2 teacher took a slightly different approach & punished the other child too. I remember being very pleased about this – I suspect, though again cannot actually remember & I’m basing my conclusions on what happened when I was older – I was asked if I hit her & I would have said “yes”. She was asked the same & said “no”. My downfalls over the years have often been because of my ridiculous level of honesty.
  • We learned to read with Janet & John books – no idea if it was phonics. I just learned.janet & John
  • We did an infant nativity. I was Mary. I had to sing a solo. I remember the headdress being hot, itchy and uncomfortable. I kept taking it off then putting it back on again so I’d look like Mary. I cannot remember the song. At all.
  • And at the end of three years, they sent home a report.


I feel it is important to note that I actually only got one question wrong in Maths (¼ mark) They docked me a whole point because I spelled my name wrong at the top of the paper – I was excited!!

That’s it by the way. That’s all my parents got to inform them of progress.

Is it better now? What was it like when you were in Infant School? Can you even remember?


Author: littlemavis

Retired teacher. (also Information Scientist, Export Sales Assistant, Sales Administrator, Computer Programmer, Software Support Specialist) Worked in Sixth Form college and recently as support in a primary school.

20 thoughts on “Infant School

  1. I was in infant school around 1972-1974. It was an old village school, about half a mile from home. I remember being taught to read with ITA – the Initial Teaching Alphabet – but quickly moved away from that and was reading ordinary books from the shelves in a couple of months. I still don’t know if that alphabet helped or hindered me or other children. I stormed through the maths problems. No recollection whatsoever at what happened at lunchtime. When we went out to play, there was a wonderful granite step at the back of the building that sparkled, and we imagined it had magical powers. A sugar cube for protection from polio was fed to us in the big hall at some point. In year two I remember showing off my lovely Timex watch – very similar to this: I also remember we were allowed to take a cuddly toy in one day. I took sausage dog: I remember so little about the lessons. My last memory is when my Dad came back from a skiing holiday and turned up at the school fence with presents – a pair of rollerskates and a Polaroid camera. 🙂

    • That sounds like a good school. I cannot remember lessons either. I can remember playing in the hall when it was wet & standing behind the blackboard. That’s pretty much it.

  2. I started infant school around the same time as Mary. We didn’t have a uniform. I remember the smell of poster paint, disinfectant and pink custard – an abomination made of cornflour and milk with a vanishing trace of cheap eau de cologne. We also had to take naps, lying on the floor on raffia mats. This was for the benefit of the teachers, as the classes were huge. We fought for occupation of the Wendy House and for the Russian dolls. At playtime we indulged in kiss chase, running up the coke heap to pretend to escape: the coke slowed an escapee down most helpfully. On frosty days we made ‘slides’ by skidding on the tarmac and polishing it to a lethal shine. When Christmas came we made paper chains and pressed the silver foil tops of our milk bottles into bells. I don’t remember much about my lessons. I could read when I started, which was a comfort, but I was scared of sums, especially mental arithmetic, and was ridiculed by the headmistress for not knowing how many threepences there were in a shilling. We also had to know about furlongs, chains and the number of gills in a pint – ah, the usefulness of the knowledge based curriculum. In the final year we began each day by choosing whether to write a poem or do ten sums. I have loved poetry ever since.

  3. Oh yes! I’d forgotten about the bells from bilk bottle tops. We did those too. And nobody seems to remember much about the lessons. I got a prize when I left. A book. What Katy Did. At 7!

  4. I can remember playing hopscotch, the time that the class gerbil bit the teacher’s finger and splashing water between containers in a patch of sunlight in a large classroom. I remember going to chat with the head teacher about maths because I was good at it when I was tiny. I remember an area at the back of the playground that had trees and hiding places in it. We did Janet and John too. Lovely blog and lovely question.

  5. Sounds like you had a good time. We had hard playgrounds at the front & grass at the back. No trees though that I remember.

  6. I started at infants school in 1977. It was a little village school and was a Victorian building. We had a small school field as well as playground. I remember the library was reached by going upstairs from our classroom. My teacher was Mrs Ashbury, I could already read before I started school but as my mum’s a cockney I couldn’t say an ‘Aitch properly’ so was the only person subjected to phonics. The school celebrated its centenary while I was there and we all dressed up as victorians. Mrs Read was headmistress and she wore very strong perfume which you could smell throughout the school. I was of the free milk era and still hate milk to this day after drinking it warm from being outside the classroom all morning. Bleugh.

    • Lots of people mention milk. It did used to be warm often in our school as they tended to leaver it by the radiator. And in tiny bottle. (It comes in cartons now) When I move on to junior school I’ll post a picture of that. It was a much older building. Now sadly gone.

  7. Please excuse the bullet points, it’s late and I’m typing on my phone!
    – 1978-81
    – Wearing tank tops and corduroys
    – Playing ‘Grange Hill’, kiss-chase and football
    – Sitting by the fish tank outside HT’s (Mrs Scroggs) office when naughty
    – Chocolate custard
    – Small bottles of frozen, or warm, milk (season dependent)
    – The teacher rubbing out dots on the TV countdown timer before a programme started
    – Having fun!

  8. I don’t remember milk in infant school. I do in primary school; little bottles and I hated it. Still can’t stomach milk. I remember very well when the milk snatcher took it away, though.

  9. Infant school. Ooh…casting my mind back. I think I was almost 5 when I started which makes it 1972. The main thing I remember from my first day was picking up a dinner lady! I’m not sure why. I was odd even then!

    My first teacher was Mrs Scrivens who was my Dad’s cousin, then Mrs Oliver who made me eat an apple from her garden. Miss Morgan played the piano and she must have been quite old because she’d taught my mother and grandmother too!

    Girls and boys had separate entrances and separate playgrounds. Ours had the coal yard in it and the entrance to the school field. We played skipping and clapping games and marbles in the pot holes.

    Little memories….being scared to go into the classroom because I had jeans on and thought people would laugh, getting stuck on a roof once, hiding from the school photographer because I was too ugly for a photo, getting told off for painting a picture which was just a page covered in black paint, having extra milk from the kids that didn’t like it, and one of my favourites….volunteering to deliver the ice slices to all the teachers because there were eleven of them and twelve cakes 🙂

    I walked to school on my own and stopped at my grandma’s on the way for a sweet from the tin, then had lunch there too. She used to make my meals into faces :-).

    We moved before I took my eleven plus and it all went massively downhill from there! So these were actually not bad school days. Sadly George Street School was knocked down in the 1980s.

  10. I went to a Roman Catholic Primary school. I can’t recall why, it wasn’t the nearest to our home and looking back I can’t recall mum going to the related RC church after my sister and I left the school. We didn’t particularly engage with the religious aspect of the school either, quite a lot of my year took part in confirmation and first communion, but not us.

    The school had a large central hall with year 1 and 2 classrooms on one side, and year 3 and 4 on the other, each pair of classes with a joint cloakroom / on bathroom on the outside. There was a small library, and a small separate admin wing where the school offices where.

    We were blessed with a massive playing field on the site, which we technically shared with a middle school further up the hill. I don’t every recall interacting at all with the older kids from middle school though, so maybe it was scheduled that way.

    Random memories from those times:
    I discovered I can’t eat jelly by being sick in the school hall.
    I took the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe out from the school library (I think you had to be in yr 3/4 to do this) and brought it back the next day.
    I took part in several school productions / pantomimes. In one I was part of a Cossack dancing troupe, though I’ve no recollection how that became part of the plot.
    We were all incredibly excited to be allowed to spend time playing very basic text adventures on the school one BBC Micro.

  11. I remember spending more than a year in the first class, starting in 1960. There was painting, salt dough, tracing zig zags or letters with big fat dark mark pencils called Black Beauties – I would get some of those now if I could find them. I wished I could have done proper writing, not just tracing. There was a home corner called a Wendy house, sand, water play, singing, clearing a space in the middle of the room to put up music stands and learn the recorder – Pease Pudding Hot was the first tune we learned, sung grace before we ate our dinner – I can still sing the song. We sat at hexagon tables in the dinner hall and served ourselves from metal dishes in the middle of the table. The food was good – we all ate everything.
    I don’t remember any books or reading. We did a show at Christmas which was an enactment of Sing a Song of Sixpence, dressed up and with instruments and singing. We did PE in our pants, naked everywhere else. I don’t remember any interaction with the teacher at all except on day one she asked another girl to look after me. Children seemed to start at various points in the year and then stay for a whole next year. We played out in all weathers except pouring rain. Even when the snow was deep, we went out to play.
    Year 2 – we sat in groups, We did sums every morning and queued up to get them marked. We raced to be the first to finish. We did news writing every Monday. I got bored and wrote a story instead one Monday and queued up to get it marked, ready to explain that I didn’t really have any news, but the teacher didn’t say anything. I never tried to please her again. We did play, similar to the first year, every afternoon. A group did cooking every Friday afternoon. We planted hyacinths in bowls in September and put them in the cupboard for what seemed like months until they were ready to flower. In spring we had a huge tank with tadpoles which I stored at every afternoon instead of playing with the other stuff. It was a hot day when the teacher let the frogs go outside in a flower bed- there was no water and I worried they would just die. She just chucked them out after we’d cared for them like treasure for weeks.
    I don’t remember being taught anything except reading music and playing recorder. Me and most of the kids around me could just do what we were given to do. I suppose the teacher helped others on the other side of the room. I don’t remember any books or being read to. At one point we took turns to go and read words in a list to the head teacher. The words got more and more difficult and we were supposed to stop when we’d made a mistake. She told me to stop before I made a mistake and I was disappointed.
    Milk in little bottles, a third of a pint, I do remember. There were always one or two bottles with mud splashes or bird droppings and you had to get your milk early or be left with one of these. In the first year, some children would be sent every day to be given orange juice concentrate or cod liver oil. They were meant to be weak in some way I never understood.
    I loved every day of school and was never absent.

  12. I forgot – plastic was in its early days. We ate from china plates and drank water from proper glasses. None were ever broken. The dinner staff peeled and prepared and cooked everything from scratch.

  13. I do remember playing hopscotch at infant school. We chalked the grid onto the playground. At junior school, there was a painted hopscotch grid. I feel that took some of the fun out of it.

    • I honestly don’t know if we did at infant school, though we did at home. At junior school our playground was on a slope. I think I have a photo I can use when I do my Junior blog post.

  14. ‘Janet and John’ has been much maligned but I loved them. At the age of 6 I was in awe of that water-colour artist who could paint people so well. Spot was often a key feature of the stories and a great dog! We didn’t learn by ‘phonics’. We learned by the alphabet, which was a kind of phonics – they came with great pictures that tried to illustrate the sounds – and by reading books which build vocabulary, not just sounds. One of my favourites was all about a stream and I could identify a trout before I left kindergarten!

  15. I started school age 3 in Ireland and then had to wait a year to start again at 5 when my family moved to Yorkshire. I started at a catholic school in 1962. It’s still there and still a school, I think. We definitely had uniforms. The teachers were mainly nuns as I recall and pretty strict. The building was Victorian, boys and girls had separate entrances. We had playtimes morning and afternoon, always outside and a long dinner time. I had school dinners, we had to eat everything on the plate and were not allowed to leave the table til we had. I have a horror of rice pudding to this day. As far as I remember, the classes were large and we sat at desks. We regularly trooped up the hill for Mass and did lots of catechism, holy communion etc. I could already read so loved going up to read to Sister but only got about 3 lines before being sent back to my seat. Punishments were rulers across the hand or standing in the corner and not uncommon. I hated it and was much happier when we moved to another area when I was 9. There was NO homework though- not til secondary school.

  16. Pingback: Girls’ Juniors | littlemavis

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