FEATURE: Kate Chapman looks back at her school days.

Kate Chapman
Kate Chapman
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So my daughter has completed her first year at primary school.

I on the other hand left mine 25 years ago – yep, a quarter of a century has passed since I last walked through those gates and lined up for assembly in the tiny classroom I shared with 20 or so other children.

A young Kate's looks were styled after Krystal Carrington.

A young Kate's looks were styled after Krystal Carrington.

Weston St Mary’s Primary was teeny – there were nine children in my year and less than 40 in the whole school. You can imagine the shock of transferring to secondary education, where there were over 1,000 girls and 30 in my form.

I enjoyed school though. Well most of it, apart from the time I was forced to climb across a ladder suspended between two trestles in PE. I hate heights and I’ve never forgiven the teacher who made me do it; I got to see her again the other weekend when I attended my primary school reunion.

I didn’t mention the above, but we had a lovely chat about our school days. And they were. Maybe I’ve got rose-tinted glasses, but that reunion has reminded me just what a fabulous time I had. I made some wonderful friends for life and enjoyed some fun, care-free times.

Looking back at all the old photos on display showed me how simple life was back then, and just how different my own school experience is from that of my children. It inspired me to compile a little list of things that actually happened at my primary school in the 1980s that would never be allowed today, or if they were, I suspect would be severely frowned upon...

Kate Chapman in her Weston St Mary's Primary School days. ANL-150723-164325001

Kate Chapman in her Weston St Mary's Primary School days. ANL-150723-164325001

• People who came in to listen to us read sat there smoking. Yep, they were allowed to spark up while we read them stories of Billy Blue Hat, Roger Red Hat and co.

• We all piled into various people’s cars – usually more kids than there were seats – on a Saturday morning to go and play in football and netball tournaments across the area. Not a seat belts or CRB checks in sight.

• Pupils were allowed to answer the telephone in the office when the secretary was off.

• We were encouraged to make cups of tea for staff too.

• I broke a window (accidentally, I hasten to add) with a big stone and had to pay one whole pound from my pocket money towards it being fixed.

• We passed our cycling proficiency without wearing helmets.

• When the local vicar came to visit he brought his dog into assembly with him.

• We were actively encouraged to go knocking on strangers’ doors to sell raffle tickets, collect produce for the harvest festival and then re-distribute it.

• We had a tuck shop every break time selling penny sweets and Snaps tomato flavoured crisps for 10p a bag.

• While our packed lunches were full of crisps, fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits, as well as the odd sandwich.

• We played British Bulldog every play-time... not sure we’d be allowed to call it that now.

• And sang songs including The Ink is Black, The Page is White – I doubt that would make the cut nowadays either.

• A child got tied to his chair with a skipping rope because he wouldn’t sit still.

• The only things we watched on telly were episodes of How We Used to Live, and the raising of the Mary Rose – which lasted all day. Oh, and the last day of term we always watched The Labyrinth – without fail.

• Endless rounders matches, country dancing and clearing out the garden shed were integral to our curriculum.

• There were no gates, fences or intercoms to negotiate to get into the grounds – just a ditch rounding the edge, which we all regularly played in.

• If we were naughty we were made to stand in the corner, or face the wall.

• On the last day of term it was tradition for leaving year six pupils to be tied to the big goalposts with skipping ropes. And then they were tickled.

• Cross dressing was actively encouraged – every time we did plays, girls always were male characters and vice versa. I can remember at least two occasions when lads were handed balloons to use as fake bosoms.

• While one pupil was dressed up as the tart Lilo Lil, from Bread, for another production.

• When it snowed everyone spent all play time skidding on the playground to make it as slippery as possible for sliding on.

• We’d spend all morning waiting for Granny’s Garden to load on the BBC Acorn computer.

• We were once tasked with creating our own drinks for a school party – and everyone ran riot with the blue food colouring which someone rather foolishly included in the ingredients list.

• We used to run up and down a small hill at the bottom of the playground pretending to be She-ra and He-man (doing the whole By the Power of Greyskull thing).

• We didn’t have a uniform – so of course our parents dressed us like 80s Dynasty rejects; just check out my shoulder pads and the Krystal Carrington flicks!

And do you know what? I wouldn’t change a single minute!

• This article first appeared on Kate’s blog Yellowbelly Mummy- 
https://yellowbellymummy.wordpress.com – where she charts the highs and lows of raising two children in Lincolnshire – with a bit of humour thrown in.