My son’s Primary school is an old Victorian building, very similar to the primary school I went to. My eldest came home the other day with a very detailed story about the toilets and how they were haunted. It made me smile because the toilets at my old school were haunted too! But whilst some things at school never change and rumours can continue for 35 years, there are many of my primary school memories that my kids will not experience.
My Primary School Memories
1. A TV on wheels
There were no interactive white boards in my day. There was one TV. A gigantic box with a screen that was on a trolley and got wheeled between class rooms to watch sex education videos made in the seventies. Yet still there was nothing like the excitement of hearing the wheels of that trolley and knowing the TV was headed towards your class room.
“Autumn days when the grass is jewelled and the silk inside a chestnut shell”.
If you are of a certain age I can guarantee you are singing along right now. I can easily recall at least 10 hymns. My year had a favourite that we used to sing with gusto.
“Colours of day dawn into the mind,
The sun has come up, the night is behind,
Go down in the city, into the street,
And let’s give the message to the people we meet.”
My kids have a singing assembly and get to take part in cool stuff like Sing to Sign to Take That
We had hymns.
3. Hymn books
We spent lessons covering those Come Praise with me Him Books with wallpaper, to preserve them. It was a great day when the wallpaper was upgraded to every Blue Peter fans favourite Sticky Back Plastic.
4. PE in your Pants and vest
Oh the shame of being that kid who forgot their PE kit so had to to the entire PE lesson in their pants and vest.
5. Winning and losing on sports day
When my eldest was assigned ‘Yellow’ as his colour group I was delighted as I was a ‘Yellow’ when I was at school. I mistakenly assumed Sports Days were the same as when I was at school, so I prepared him by teaching him all the songs. You know “Reds, Reds, Wet their beds” and “Greens Greens are bogey machines”. He thought they were hilarious and couldn’t wait to chant them at the opposing colour teams.
Imagine my horror when I got to sports day and realised there were no races, not an egg and spoon in sight. Instead just a series of tasks, like kicking a ball or throwing bean bags into a bucket, which they took it in turns to do. There was no competing. No winning or losing. And I spent the whole time praying my son wouldn’t start chanting the songs I had taught him that are clearly not appropriate for today’s sports days.
6. One computer in the entire school
As well as one TV there was also one computer. With one game. It was shared on a rota basis between the classes. When it was your class’ turn the teacher would assign you and a partner a time, and you would get 15 minutes to play the game. By the time you figured out what to do your turn was over. It was all a bit of an anti-climax really. My kids have been playing phonics and number games on the interactive whiteboard since they were in Reception class.
7. The headmaster fear
The headmaster at my kids school is great. He knows all of the kids. They think he is brilliant. He is seen on a daily basis mucking in with the kids. When I was at school the headmaster was someone to be feared. he was rarely seen. Just wheeled out for assemblies. There were rumours of a ruler he kept in his drawer to hit kids with. In fact I was so scared of him that when he made a rare appearance in our classroom to read us a story, I was to scared to ask him if I could go to the toilet. So I wet my pants right there on the carpet!
8. Telephone Monitor
When you reached the guidy heights of year 6 (Although in my day it was the 4th Year) you were given chores. One of which was telephone monitor. You would spend your lunch breaks in the office where your sole responsibility was to answer the phone so the actual office ladies could take their lunch break! You spent the whole time praying the phone wouldn’t ring.
Looking back I’m not sure if it was some form of child labour, or teaching us good life skills. Jury’s out. But telephone monitor is a thing of the past. Probably so our kids don’t have to deal with Brenda phoning up with an earful of abuse because Johnny had to to PE in his pants and vest!
One of the perks and very much looked forward to aspects of being in the final year or primary school at my school was getting your own individual desk in your classroom. I’m talking proper Victorian desks. Lift up lids for your stuff and inkwell for, well, we just stashed our pens in there, because things had moved on slightly. Looking back I wonder if my school was just hard up, or maybe they just don’t make them like they used to in the 1800’s!
10. Johnny Yellow hat
Johhny and Jennifer Red Hat and Roger Red hat are long gone. I don’t remember a huge amount about them. Maybe something about a map of their houses being a triangle shape? Nowadays it’s all about Biff, kipp, Chipper and Floppy the dog. Although I’m sure one of the coloured hat gang had a dog?
11. Fountain Pens
Big is in his penultimate year of his primary education and has yet to be given a fountain pen to write essays with. I’m hoping this is an archaic practice that is no longer endured, mainly because he if left handed and I can’t handle the stains! Nowadays kids can even get essay help online from professional writers.
I have many primary school memories of laborious handwriting lessons with fountain pens and blotting paper. They are etched into my memory along with Berol pens. I can honestly say my life is very for-filled, and happy with fountain pens being a part of it.
12. Toilet Paper
When Little was in the throws of potty training, picking up his big brother from school quite often involved a frantic trip to the school toilets. I can confirm that whilst it’s not Andrex in there, it is a long way from the quite literal toilet ‘paper’ that we had in my day. How we didn’t paper cut our vaginas to shreds I don’t know!
As much as there are many primary school memories that will not be the same for me and my kids, I think we can all experience the joy of smearing your hand in PVA glue and peeling it off once it dries.
What are your primary school memories that are now thing of the past?
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