'That Reminds Me' - School's Out

Three cheers for the summer holidays. Or perhaps not. This is going to be a funny old year for children who haven’t been inside their school buildings for weeks and for whom any end of term celebrations will have been somewhat strange and muted.

That need not stop us reminiscing about our own experiences, however. And how different some of those experiences will have been, even without the effects of Coronavirus.

Let’s begin with the physical surroundings. All my schools were foreboding looking red-brick buildings with grim, tarmacked playgrounds. I seem to remember there was some kind of green space round the back of my primary, near the canteen. But I don’t recall it being used very much, or very imaginatively. The toilets were indoors for the infants but housed in a separate block outside in the playground when you got to junior school. The playgrounds were actually joined with a white line between which you were never, ever meant to cross!

Moving inside the classroom, who remembers wooden desks with lift up lids and ink wells (we all had to learn to write with fountain pens)? At secondary school we were supposed to only post up our timetable inside, but this was swiftly accompanied by pictures of pop stars (the Beatles in my case). After the 11-plus (remember that?) I went to an all-girls school and very few of us dared to scratch anything into the woodwork. Perhaps you were less restrained? If so, whose initials did you carve – your own, or someone else’s with a heart around them?

In primary school everything apart from assembly, P.E., or country dancing happened in the same classroom. By the time you got to senior school there were all sort of corridors and different classrooms to negotiate, including separate laboratories, sewing, cookery, typing or woodwork classrooms.

Do you still have any of your school reports? What do they say? As well as an old school report, see if you can dig out a school photograph of yourself. If it is one of those long ones it might bring back a few more names of staff or fellow pupils. Tradition has it that someone always ran round the back to try and get in the same photo twice!

Thinking about the school day, how did yours begin and end? Did you walk to school? Did you get a little bottle of milk in the morning? (Frozen in winter, curdled in summer!) Did you stay to school dinners (love them or loathe them)?
What sorts of things happened at the end of term? School sports days? Speech days and prize-givings? Did you perform in a school concert or play? I’m guessing that few of us had such a thing as a School Prom (only seen in American movies in my era)!
Were you pleased to see the backs of all your teachers? Or do some stand out as being kinder, better, or more inspirational than others? Any of them have good nicknames?

Once school was out, how did you spend those long summer breaks? It is always a risk to generalise, but I suspect that one of the differences is that parents of yesteryear didn’t always seem to feel the obligation to keep children perpetually occupied and entertained in the way many of them seem to do now. So, did the holidays mean unrestrained freedom and lots of adventure? Or were there long stretches of boredom? Much will depend on your age, where you lived and who was available to play with you.
What did you do to amuse yourself? Where did you go and what did you get up to? Were you encouraged to disappear and play outside until the sun set, only responding to the call home when you were sufficiently hungry?

Did you play round at a friend’s house or garden, in the street, or at a local park or recreation ground? Did you have a bicycle or roller skates? Maybe you built your own go-kart? Perhaps you got to explore nearby woods and fields? Remember swinging on a rope (over a river)? What’s the naughtiest thing you did?

YOUR CHALLENGE (Should you choose to accept it…)

This week is to swing across a river on a rope and build a go-kart!


As it is the school holidays, we are giving you a break and NOT setting a challenge this week. But please go on adding your memories to your scrapbook or memory box. And as always, we would love you to send us any school stories and pictures you feel like sharing.

    If you have anything you’d like to share with us, and are happy for us to post onto this page, and our social media pages – please email them over to sam@activlives.org.uk.

    We’d love to hear from you, and make this a fun community activity with loads of people taking part and sharing their stories, photos, comics – and anything else!


    1. A famous brand of milky hot drink was served to children during a school promotion scheme in the 1930s. Can you guess which one?

      2. Which of the following is the name of a type of school that existed in the past?
      Scruffy School   Poor School   Ragged School   Bored School

      3. Who created the TV series Grange Hill? Extra points if you know the year it was first screened and/or the soap opera he went on to create in the 1980s.

      4. What was the name off the series for pre-school children that the BBC ran from 1964 to 1988? Big clue: “Here’s a house, here’s a door, Windows 1234…”

      5. Name the teacher of Class 2B at the Bash Street School in Beanotown.

    Answers to last weeks quiz:

    • Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “Treasure Island”
    • There are 101 Dalmatians in the book by Dodie Smith
    • Judith Kerr wrote (and illustrated) “Mog the
    • Forgetful Cat”, first published in1970
    • The story by Julia Donaldson about a mouse and a fictional creature is “The Gruffalo”.
    • Paddington Bear came from Peru
    • Quentin Blake illustrated many of Roald Dahl’s books
    • The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997
    • Rupert the Bear appeared in The Daily Express newspaper
    • Jackanory was first broadcast in 1965

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