I started school in September 1944. In those days there were no nursery classes and nurseries were where working mothers left their children while they went to work if they had no close relative or neighbour to take on the task.

It was a much longed for event, as I was quite jealous of my older brother and cousins when they trotted off to school and left me behind. I was in the fortunate position of being able to read, write and “do sums” as I had pestered my long suffering mother to teach me.

It was a rather ugly two storeyed building from the Victorian era. The infants and juniors were downstairs and the senior girls were upstairs. The senior boys were sent to a boys only school. There was also a small annexe housed in a two roomed building on the edge of the Forest about 3/4 mile away.  One classroom was for those with learning difficulties and the other was for the nine year old mixed infants. This was a lovely retreat surrounded by a rather wild garden. I don’t know why they had this arrangement but I enjoyed it when my time came.

The first classroom was a large airy room with lines of double desks facing the teacher’s desk and the blackboard. Paper was in short supply so we each had a small blackboard and various coloured chalks, which we placed in the little bag on the back of our chairs. We did not progress to pencil and paper for about a year and then to “dip in” pens and ink until we were about 9.

Most of the teachers seemed quite elderly to me and they had an old fashioned “dames school” approach to teaching, strict discipline and a lot of learning by rote. Most of the girls were well behaved, but some of the boys earned a rap on the knuckles with a ruler for misbehaving! (I don’t remember any mothers coming in to complain about that, the boys probably got a smack from said parent if they went home and complained :))

We had little tests and spelling bees frequently and were continually assessed by these old “Dames”  There were no SATS or similar tests until we took the 11+ exam.

At the end of each year if you had not reached the required standard you stayed down until you had, so it was possible for some children to be two years older than some of the others.

The school day was from 9.15am-4.30pm with a short playtime morning and afternoon when we had our free milk (nobody seemed to have food intolerance then!) and ate the snack provided from home. Dinner time was from 1230-2pm and most of us went home, though there were school dinners available. I suppose there must have been free dinners for some but I was not aware of them.

There was no “learning through play”, no sand pits, toys or dressing up clothes, but we did have an “orchestra”  Nothing very sophisticated just triangles,  tambourines, drums and penny whistles -I played the triangle!

As well as the 3 Rs we did a bit of painting, awful rough paper and poster paints applied with wornout brushes. No wonder it took me 50 years or more to attempt painting again. We did country dancing and gymnastics and played rounders and netball. Everyone learned to knit and simple sewing (even the boys).  The first thing we knitted was a dishcloth and then a consignment of khaki knitting wool arrived and we made slippers. I remember we had to take in an old felt hat to make the soles.

I enjoyed my time at the school and I think got a good grounding in the basics. When the 11+ arrived I don’t remember anyone getting stressed about it, it was just another day. I remember the day the results came and the headmistress announced at daily prayers that 3 of us had won scholarships to the grammar school, but again no great fuss was made.

There seems to be a lot of stress nowadays caused by choice of schools, then, we went to the nearest to home and at 11 you either went to the grammar school or the nearest secondary modern. At 13 there was a second chance for the grammar school, the technical college, art school or, in Nottingham, the Peoples college where they learned all aspects of the building trade from architecture and technical drawing to all the allied trades.

If you stayed at the secondary modern school you left at 15 and at the others it was minimum 16years old.

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