School Days ~ Skool Daze
Whilst waiting here “patiently” for news as to which Primary school my little darlings will be attending this September, I can’t help but think back to my own school days.
My Primary school was amazing, only 1 class per year, everyone knew everyone else, we had a playground and a playing field with climbing frames which they left up even after Edward broke his arm.
The parents built a wilderness area for bugs and plants, it was a truly scary place for us little adventurers.
The caretaker was a lovely guy, who made sure the wooden floors were shiny and had that lemony smell.
The dinner ladies were the mums of my friends, they didn’t force you to eat the yucky sandwich's and were always happy to referee a football game.
We had naps at story time, and on sunny days we took our milk and biscuit to the park, sat under a weeping willow next to the stream and dozed whilst the teacher told us a story.
We did line dancing and had Christmas Nativities, Peter K would help us with projects; one year we made a scale replica of the Channel Tunnel, it was beyond awesome.
We had an art room with sugar paper and powder paints, the desks had ink wells which we DID NOT fill with paint!
The first aid room always smelt of TCP, the blankets were warm and cosy, perfect for snuggling into when feeling icky. When Kevin smashed my face in to the wall (wanker) I sat in there until my da came and took me to nanas, he carried me the whole way there on his shoulders. I had blood pouring out my mouth, it looked zombie style awesome.
I ate ice cream for about a month!
Reading books lined the only corridor, teachers didn’t mind if we spent an afternoon sat on the floor reading the latest adventure of The Famous Five.
The nursery class had a roundabout INDOORS and a rocking horse large enough for 2 or 3 kids, which went scary fast and was rumoured to come alive at night.
In Spring the trees would be full of blossom which us girls made in to wedding bouquets as we got married for the day or week. We chased and got chased giggling like mad playing Kiss Chase. British Bulldog was a game played by the ENTIRE school, I still have scars on my knees.
Every week we got on the coach to go to the big swimming pool, I always remembered to take my knickers off before putting my cossie on, not everyone did.
We played marbles on the drain covers, tense affairs which caught the attention of everyone.
Our head master was our friends grampa, a kind old man who was fair but still told us off when we were naughty; when you had the sniffles he’d say “Would you like a Tune?” everyone thought he meant a cough sweet, but he’d just whistle a merry tune and carry on with head master type duties.
There was a newspaper shop just down the road, some days whoever picked us up from school would take us there and I’d get a Feast, it would melt by the time I got to nanas but I still got to eat the chocolate in the middle.
My great auntie Eileen lived opposite the school, some days she would throw the door key down, we’d pop in have an orange squash, be given a pound pocket money and then skip to the park.
Carol was our lollipop lady, a pro at getting us safely across the road and stopping the bus so we could run to the bus stop.
We all cried when Claire’s parents made her move to Australia, we mourned together when little Peter passed away and we celebrated when Amy went into remission.
We had a music hut, you could spin round and round on the stair banisters, I often accidentally flashed my Cinderella knickers.
The boys played football, trying to successfully kick the ball in the gapping mouths of the froggy bins. The girls made daisy chains, rolled their socks down in neat circles around their ankles and tried to learn the latest French elastic skips.
We played Rounder's on the playing field, each of us trying to smack the ball hard and fast enough that it went over the fence and into the road. The squeal of tyres was always met with cheers (they eventually made the fence higher).
We baked cakes for Cake Sales, raised money for charities and school supplies, donated items and visited the elderly and those less fortunate.
In autumn we’d gather conkers, string them and have epic conker battles, the odd black eye was worn with pride.
When the old tile floor, all that remained of a building long ago knocked down, froze over, we’d pretend it was an ice rink and practiced our skating.
We got Whoopee stickers when we had enough stars on the chart, stood on a chair and listened to the class sing “Happy Birthday” on our birthdays, raced to be the one to ding the bell to sound the end of play time.
These were some of my most formative years.
My friends and I learnt and grew, not just in an official educationally recognised way, but we learnt about fairness, compassion, healthy competition, empathy, respect for ourselves and others, social skills and respect for the environment around us.
We were taught to take care of ourselves and our belongings, that depending on others was nothing to be ashamed of, being different was to be celebrated, hard work was rewarded and failure was just an opportunity to try again tomorrow.
Not once were we told we needed to work harder for longer to compete with our contemporaries on the other side of the world, we did enough.
We learnt, we grew and we had fun.
That is what school should be; a safe place for our children to learn, develop and grow whilst making the most of and enjoying those precious years which are all too few and over far too quickly, yet impact the rest of our lives.
I want my children to one day have happy memories of their school days, because despite our claims at 16 that school sucked and life was so unfair, they were, upon reflection some of the best years.
Shorter holidays, 10 hour days and an increase in assessments will not turn our children in to the super educated, ready to take on the world and conquer all types that Mr Gove claims.
I fear it will result in a generation wondering what happened to their childhood.
Mr Gove, my children’s childhood is not yours for the taking.