So. Junior school?
Since my first school was infants only I moved at 7 to a school which had a mixed infants half and a Girls’ Junior half. (The boys went to a different school about half a mile away)
The building was much older, Old enough for my mum and aunt to have gone to the school as children and my aunt is now 89.
(I found this photo on FB) Stone built and the stones blackened by many, many years of
the residue of the coal fires used all over town. In fact, for many years I thought this was the natural colour of stone as it was so ubiquitous.
The playground was concrete or tarmac and we had no playing field or grass of any kind.
There was an outdoor toilet block to use at playtimes. I cannot remember if we had indoor toilets. The classrooms in the junior block were arranged around a large hall which could be divided into 2 or possibly 3 by folding partitions. There was one class per year. Also, no maypole!
I have a vague recollection that the classes were arranged in an odd way. We did a term in the first class then moved up at the same time every year, finally coming back to the teacher we started with.
Desks were arranged in rows and were wooden with lift up lids and inkwells. These were wooden holes in the desk into which small (ceramic?) inkpots made were inserted. I don’t remember when we started to use ink, but we had blue painted wooden pens which we dipped in the ink to write and we inevitably ended up with blue ink-stained fingers. We were taught italic rather than cursive which means I now have an odd style of writing that is neither one thing nor the other.
What did we learn? Well English and maths, obviously. Though Maths may well have been called Arithmetic. In Geography, I learned that tea came from India and Beef from Argentina. I may have learned other things but nothing else has stuck. I assume History, though I remember nothing at all of that. We did knitting. I started with a dishcloth in yr3/4, than a hot water bottle cover and finally a stripy cardigan. I was very slow and took so long over my hot water bottle cover that I was last to choose the wool for my cardigan so it was turquoise and orange stripes. We also did needlework, or basically, embroidery so I could/can do chain stitch, daisy stitch., blanket stitch, stem stitch. Odd that I remember that but not the history. I expect I did more embroidery at home.
The headmistress was Miss Varney who became ill and was replaced by Mrs Swift. I remember it was though vaguely odd that a headmistress could be married.
Mrs O’Donaghue (Yr 3) Was quiet & pleasant and had the joy of dealing with me being sick all over my desk. That’s all I can remember.
Miss Hayes (Yr 3/4) had permed blonde hair and those strange upswept glasses that were popular in the 60s. She seemed stern and got very cross with me once when she told us we would finish off our arithmetic before doing needlework and I pulled a face. She threatened me with extra maths instead of needlework which would have suited me just fine as it was actually the needlework I was pulling a face at. Never assume you know what is going through a child’s mind.
Mrs James (Yr 4/5) was a motherly figure, who read us Just So stories and Puck of Pook’s Hill and was disappointed in me for getting a couple of maths questions wrong.
The year 5/6 teacher was Miss Davidson. Tall, stout, stern and wonderful. She also taught music and I remember her being very, very insistent that we should be singing “O Lord” and not “Oh Lard” in hymns. To this day I cannot stand poor enunciation. Looking back, I can see that the school was her life. We were her last class as she retired the Christmas when we were due to move into the top class and into another school as our buildings were going to be demolished. She cried, we cried. We knew where she lived and carried on visiting for a few years to chat and drink orange squash. We used to do weekly tests in the class and sit according to our results, top at the back, bottom at the front. The very idea makes me shudder now.
At Christmas we used to learn the parts from the gospels used in the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from Kings College and I can still recite them from memory. (Also poems).
We still had the 11 plus back then and did regular practices, though I can’t remember there being the type of pressure there is now with either the current 11+ or SATs. The school actually did very well.
The Christmas of year 6 the juniors moved to another school.
The town had a Grammar School and two secondary moderns. Comprehensive education was in its infancy and there was a comprehensive in the next town. The Grammar school was moving to a brand new building and as a knock on effect, the secondary moderns were amalgamated and moved into the grammar school buildings. One of them from an old stone building, which was also to be demolished, and the other from a newer building that we were moving into along with the local boys’ junior school. So, after three and a bit years in a girls only junior school at 10 and 11 were moved into a school with BOYS!!! It was all a bit of a shock to the system. We got over it quite quickly though and developed small, unrequited crushes then got on with our work.
The school was newer and different. Our class was housed in a separate classroom with its own cloakroom and toilets. We still had only a tarmac playground, though bigger and not on a slope and still no playing field. This was my first encounter with a stationery cupboard. A few of us were allowed the immense privilege of organising it, sorting all the books, paper, art supplies, pencils, pens, rubbers, rulers. It was bliss.
Our new teacher was Mrs Thompson who had lived in South Africa for a while.
Finally a couple of school reports to show how short they were back then.
We were only there for two terms before we moved on to big school. I, most of my friends and a few of the boys passed the 11+ and went to the (new, shiny) Grammar School, some who did well, but not enough to pass went to the comprehensive and the remainder to the secondary modern, the old grammar school) just around the corner. I have to say, I never gave the kids who failed another thought.
Please feel free to add any memories of your own in the comments.