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.

primary school memories

2. Hymns!

“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.

primary school memories

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!

9. Inkwells

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!

primary school memories

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?

primary school memories

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.

primary school memories

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.

primary school memories

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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Claire Kirby

10 Comments on 12 Primary school memories that my kids won’t experience

  1. It was so exciting when the TV trolley was wheeled in!
    My son’s school still sing hymns from Come and Praise. I love it when he comes home singing them. It’s such fun to reminisce over them. #KCACOLS

  2. Ahh the hymns and being the projector monitor in year 6 and occasionally being able to pick the hymn so you could get a good one! A nice trip down memory lane here, thanks! #kcacols

  3. That’s so funny about the ink wells. We had those but that means the tables must have been 30 years old or something! I’d forgotten all about those. #KCACOLS

  4. We must be of the same generation as that post really brought back memories of my childhood! I think my Primary school had each and every one of those and I still remember playing ‘Pod’ on the school computer!

  5. Hehe, we did *not* have haunted loos, but we did at one time organise searches for hidden or secret corridors. That was always a lot of fun!

    It’s funny, I’ve recently rediscovered my love of ink writing. I’ve gone slightly crazy (and had to stop myself going even crazier!) on a coloured ink shopping spree… I’m certain ink stains would have felt a lot more fun back in the day had they been pink- or russet-coloured as opposed to that classic school blue!

  6. Well isn’t that strange the toilets and my primary school were haunted too. hehehe
    This post really made me smile and brought back so many memories.
    I used to love singing the Hymns.
    When my girls were at primary school they still used the Berol pens! It was a always a big day when they were finally allowed to move up from using a pencil to a pen. x

  7. We are clearly exactly the same age! One thing which doesn’t seem to have changed since the 1980s is the firm conviction that any injury, from a paper cut through to a broken limb, can be dealt with by a compress made from wet paper towel!

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