What it was like at school in the 70s

Following on from my last post – Playground games – I decided to write about what school was like in the seventies, well things that I remember anyway! It’s quite interesting comparing school then to what school is like for kids nowadays – and it wasn’t that long ago!!

Do you know what? There are so many things I’d love to share with you, so I think I’m going to dedicate this post just to the initial first year of my first school.

One thing I would like to say about school in the seventies is that I’m sure it was a hell of a lot more enjoyable than it is for kids nowadays. There is so much pressure on children now and I don’t remember having any pressure academically! In my opinion the education system has definitely not changed for the better.

I remember when I started school I was already able to read and there was a bit more flexibility in those days because my Mum managed to get them to take me early. Now I could read into this in two ways – either she felt I was ready for school – or, maybe she just wanted me out the house!! I’m sure that wasn’t the case but I started school when I was about four.

I loved my school uniform, I felt so proud. The tie was black and yellow striped and I wore a navy blue pinafore dress that had a little picture of a mouse embroidered onto the pocket. I had a brown leather satchel that had my name written inside in blue biro and this had two little pockets at the front and jingly brass buckles. I felt sooo grown up going to big school.

I remember some lovely things about the first year of school, and some not so lovely! Considering it was over forty years ago I have quite vivid memories! I remember we had Guinea pigs in the classroom. They had their own section in the classroom with wooden boards across, so that was a nice touch! One thing I remember that wasn’t nice was the milk we used to have in the morning. The bottles were cute, little miniature bottles that were a third of a pint and you had a straw that you stuck in the foil lid to sip your milk. I hate milk. I’m sure I had to drink it though. Perhaps I liked it in those days… It came in a crate that used to sit in the corner of the classroom and in the summer it was warm, ugh how gross! Along with the milk we were allowed a little snack. Ha – see children now are only allowed fruit aren’t they? Oh what lovely memories this brings back! I remember my Mum used to wrap me two garibaldi biscuits (or what some people – who don’t like them – call squashed fly biscuits!) anyway she used to wrap the two biscuits in greased proof paper (tracing paper) then sellotape it across the middle and write my name on it. We had to give our named snacks to the teacher and then got to eat them at our snack time. Honestly whenever I see garibaldi biscuits, or better still smell them, it really makes me think about that! Oh wow I’ve just realised what lovely memories I had of that school 💕

The books we learnt to read with were called Peter and Jane and they were numbered 1a, 1b, 1c, 2a, 2b, 2c, 3a, etc, you get the picture! We had them at home which is probably how I learnt to read before I started school. They were about a brother and sister, Peter and Jane and their dog Pat. Seriously ‘Pat’ the dog, I don’t suppose many people of us got that pun! The books were really basic like:

Here is Peter.

Here is Jane.

Here is Pat the dog.

I like Peter.

I like Jane.

Jane likes Peter…

You get the drift. Oh wow I just googled this and you can actually see the books on YouTube. I kid you not! How exciting! In the book were pictures of Peter and Jane and Pat. Jane – bless her – is wearing a pair of roller skates LIKE I USED TO HAVE! Maybe you had them too! They were red, kind of like a pair of sandals on wheels. You had to wear them over your normal shoes and they were adjustable with a little nut that turned and you could extend them or make them smaller, depending on who was going to wear them? They only went in straight lines I seem to recall but oh my they were so cool! Haha! Oops sorry sidetracked there…in the book there are also pictures of a tree, a ball, toys and a shop, all with the names of them next to the item. This was in the first book anyway (1a) and then new words were introduced with each new book.

Well honestly all I can say is I learned to read quite quickly with these books and it was learning words by sight mainly not by phonics. There we are, that’s a debate in itself, my opinion is that children would learn to read better by learning keywords by sight and introducing sounds kind of alongside but letting them learn the actual words without having to sound out basic words such as like, the, dog etc. I think there should be a campaign to bring back Peter and Jane books. I even bought them for my own children when they were toddlers and it didn’t do them any harm either!

Ooh another thing about books, I used to love reading Bobby Brewster books, the author, a man called H E Todd came to our school and signed books for us!

Anyway I’ve waffled a bit now about reading…One more thing I will touch upon about when I started school was the respect. I went to Merstham First School and our headteacher was a formidable lady called Miss Brown. Yikes she was incredibly scary! In fact she was probably a really nice lady but I was scared! I remember one day when I must have been about five, Miss Brown was talking to another teacher in the corridor and I walked in between them. Wow! I was really told off because I didn’t say excuse me! I nearly wet myself and had to stand outside Miss Brown’s office door. Oh the shame! Her office was weird because there was a door that led to a spiral staircase where her office was upstairs, the peculiar thing was that it was only a single storey building. Very strange. Anyway one things for sure, after that day I NEVER walked in between two people without saying excuse me first. That still stands too, I think I was scarred for life! But then again, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing…

Until next time, thank you so much for reading.

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