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Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Tale of the Two Childhoods

The 1970-1990 childhood 
Once upon a time there were two children called Janet and John. Janet and John were brother and sister and lived at home with their Mum and Dad and baby brother Michael. Mum worked some shifts as a nurse, with the help of Grannie and Grandad, who helped out with Michael. Their Dad worked in an office and went to work everyday on the bus. Gran and Grandad, their Uncle Simon and Auntie Susan all lived locally. 

Their friends all lived on the same housing estate and they all played out in the street after school, at weekends and during the summer holidays. During the long summer holidays they would go out with their friends all day returning only when they were hungry. On wet days they would play board games, draw, make up plays and watch a little t.v. If they had fall outs with their friends they were told to sort it for themselves, parents didn't get involved. 

Their primary school was within walking distance and all of the local children went to the same school. When they left primary school they would all go to the same local comprehensive. Janet was in the infants and John was in the Kat year of juniors.  Their were lots of children in their classes, Janet's class had 38 children and John's 40. The teachers were strict but nice and generally the children behaved well. Their headmaster was a bit scary and they had to stand up when he came into their class, one thing you didn't want was to be sent to his office for misbehaving because he would make them feel like they had let him, the school, their parents and themselves down, he was really good at that. If they got told of in school they knew they would also get a good telling off at home. They were responsible for their own actions. 

Janet and John both loved school, Jon loved maths, reading and p.e. and Janet loved story time and playing in the outdoor area. Playtime was great, Jon loved having races with his friends and playing football on the field and Janet loved doing cartwheels and making daisy chains. When it rained they still played out on the playground with their coats on and everyone would jump over the puddles or huddle around telling stories and laughing. There were always two staff on the playground drinking their tea or coffee and chatting. But the children didn't bother them they all just played and sorted out their own squabbles. If they fell over they would get up and carry on playing unless they were really hurt and the teacher would take them into the school medical room to sort them out. 

Assembly was held everyday and the whole school would get together and sing hymns from a big flip chart while the headteacher pointed at the words with a big stick and sang in a deep voice really loudly, which was really funny.  One of the teachers played the piano and all of the teachers joined in the singing too. Harvest Assembly was their favourite because they took in baskets that mum had made up at home full of tinned peaches and corned beef and sometimes some fresh fruit, then they would all walk down the aisle and place their own basket on the display in front of the whole school. Once John,s friends mum didn't send a basket in and he felt bad but the teacher gave him one she had made and he took that to place onto the display. 

Sports day was always great fun, the whole school would line up with their class on the side of the field and each class then took turns to do the sack race, the two legged race and Janet's favourite the egg and spoon race. The juniors also did a relay race and Jon even won one year! The winners got a medal and a big clap and then the headteacher treated all of the children to an ice lolly. 

P.E. lessons were held in the school hall when they did dance or gymnastics and out on the school field for games lessons. John loved it when they got the gymnastics equipment out because he could hang upside down off the big metal bars and jump over the pummel horse. They never, ever forgot their p,e. kit because they knew if they did their teacher would make them wear the smelly spare kit that they kept in their stockroom, boy it stunk! The infants would be made to do p.e. in vest and knickers if they didn't have kit! 

Every class did English, maths, topic, art, music and cookery. John was learning the recorder in music and the whole class used recorders which were dipped in disinfectant, it smelled and tasted really weird but nobody minded. Art was great, they got to mix their own paint and take pictures home at the end of the day. They all wore aprons because the paint never washed off and Mums were not happy if they got it on their uniform because that would mean trying to wash and dry it in time for the next day. One day Janet forgot to put her apron on and got covered in paint, Mum washed it but because it was wet she couldn't get it dry and Janet had to go to school the next day in a wet uniform. 

Some children were good at everything but everybody was good at something, reading, writing, maths, art, running, singing, acting in the play, recorder ... One year the school held a reading aloud day and the best readers in the class read out a poem that they had to learn off by heart. The winner got a prize which was a book signed by the headmaster. They also had a yearly spelling competition and every day, when they fit into juniors they had to stand up and say their tables off by heart. 

Class photograph day was organised by the caretaker who would march them into the hall class by class making sure brothers and sisters were photographed together. The teachers would straighten their ties and comb their hair with a comb which was kept in a jar of the same white smelly solution they used for the recorders. 

Once a year they all had a visit from Nitty Nora the nit nurse who would go through everybody's hair with a nit comb. If you had nits they were given a note for their Mum and would have to have this really stinky stuff on your hair for a couple of days. 

Janet and John got a school report at the end of the year and parents were invited in once a year for parents evening. The report showed their attendance for the year and have them a grading a-d for every subject for effort and they also showed the position of each child in the class, in Janet's case out of 38 and John's class out of 40. There was a section from the teacher about friendship groups, general behaviour and what they had a flair for. 

School was were they went to learn, play, grow, develop.

The 2000-2016 childhood 
Once upon a time there were two children called Emily and Jacob. Emily and Jacob were brother and sister and lived at home with their Mum and Dad and baby brother Liam. Mum worked full time as a nurse and Liam went to nursery. Their Dad worked away and Gran and Grandad, their Uncle Paul and Auntie Linda lived about an hours drive away and they went to see them during school holidays. 

Some of their friends from school lived in their street but a lot of them lived about a 20 minute walk away. They were driven to school by Mum on her way to work and went to the school breakfast club. They didn't see their friends out of school unless there was a party or they went to the same after school clubs, Beavers or swimming lessons. They weren't allowed to play out in the street. After school they would go to after school club and then go home to do homework and have tea, they both had lots of homework but Jacob had the most because he had to do Sats practice and he also had a tutor who gave him even more. If he finished his homework he could watch t.v in bed or play on his tablet. During the long summer holidays they would go away for two weeks holiday with Mum and Dad often abroad and then maybe go to see their Grannie and Grandad for a couple of days. They didn't get to see their friends much at all unless there was a party or they bumped into them in the supermarket when they were out shopping with Mum. On wet days they would watch dvds, play on their Xbox or do some homework. 

Their primary school was within walking distance, though they went in the car. The children in their street didn't all go to the same school, some went to the one on the next estate. When they left primary school they would have lots to choose from but Jacob would have to sit an entrance exam this year to get into the grammar school. Mum said he had to work hard because the local high school didn't have a good reputation. The day the schools were announced was always upsetting because everybody was split up and some people didn't pass. 

Emily was in year 2 and Jacob had just gone into year 6.  Their were 30 children in Emily's class and Jacobs class had 32 children. Emily's class had a teacher and a teaching assistant all day because they had a child who needed extra support. He misbehaved a lot but their teaching assistant looked after him. Jacob's class had a teacher and a teaching assistant in the morning when they were set for maths and English. The lowest set were taught by the TA. He was happy because he was in top sets but he did miss being with his friends all morning. The homework in top set was really hard too. Their headteacher was nice and they saw him once a week in assembly or sometimes he came in to check on the progress in their books. Behaviour was O.K but there was lots of talking in class, particularly in Jacob's class as well as tapping of pencils and throwing rubbers. In Emily's class the boys were silly on the carpet. If they got told off in school they knew their parents would get informed and often they would then come into school to have a chat with the headteacher to find out what had gone on. Mum would then tell them not to worry because it was all sorted out. 

Emily and Jacob both enjoyed school, Jacob loved maths and p.e, when they got to do it, and Emily loved story time and topic. Playtime was great, Jon loved playing football with his friends on their football cage days and Janet loved playing with the outdoor play equipment. When it rained it was 'wet play' Emily's class went into the hall with the rest of KS1 and sang songs while Jacob stayed in his class and played wet play games. There was always two staff on the playground supervising them at all times and they would sort out the fights and squabbles that happened. If they fell over the staff would take them into the school to clean them up and give them a note to take home to their parents. Sometimes Mum would ring up to ask what happened. 

Assembly was held once a week with the whole school when the vicar came in to do an assembly, they would sing songs with a backing track on a Cd and the words were displayed on the whiteboard, some of the teachers came in but some stayed class. Sometimes year 6 didn't come in because they had to do more work and some children in Emily's class were kept out for 'interventions.' Usually the deputy came into this assembly and the headteacher did an assembly on a Friday for KS1 in the morning and KS2 in the afternoon. For Harvest Assembly they were asked to bring in an item for the Harvest display or their parents could make a donation on Parent Pay. 

Sports day was good but would often get called off because of bad weather and the headteacher would say it was too dangerous to do it even if it wasn't raining, they might slip and hurt themselves he would explain.  When it was on it was always KS1 in the morning and KS2 in the afternoon so Emily and Jacob didn't get to see each other in school much. Sports day for KS1 and KS2 was non competitive team games, like throwing hoops and swapping places on a bench. They didn't do any races. The teachers made it as much fun as they could by squirting them with water if it was hot. The team with the most points got a a big clap but everyone who took part got a medal because that was fair. When it was finished the PTA sold drinks and crisps.

P.E. lessons were held in the school hall when they did dance or gymnastics and out on the school field for games lessons. You did P.E in the hall if it was cold or had been raining. The gymnastics equipment was mainly benches and mats and everyone was taught how to carry benches safetly. If you forgot your kit you didn't have to do P.E. You just sat at the side and watched. Some children didn't get to do P.E at all because they had 'interventions' in year 2 and year 6 didn't really do P.E. much until after the Sats because they were too busy. Jacob hated it but Mum said Sats were very important. 

Every class did English and maths in the morning, due to setting, with topic and ICT in the afternoon. Jacob loved ICT and was learning to code. Emily loved ICT too because they got to use the apps on the iPads. Jacobs class had an Art and DT day once a term because that was the only way his teacher could fit it in because of Sats. 

Ofsted had been into their school three times while Jacob was there and he noticed how cross the teachers and head were just before they arrived, all smiley  while they were there and tired and grumpy when they left. His Mum said they were a good school but if it didn't get outstanding next time Liam would be going somewhere else. 

Some children were good at everything in Emily and Jacobs school but Jacob knew he could do better at writing because that was always his target and Emily found SPAG hard, her class did SPAG everyday except the children who still did phonics. Once a year after Sats KS2 had a talent show and although you had to audition everybody got to take part because the teachers knew the parents would complain otherwise because it wasn't fair. Jacob was good at his tables but his teacher said he didn't really know them fast enough. Emily was now learning her tables in year 2. 

Class photograph day was organised by the photographer and Emily and Jacob had their photograph taken together. Their teachers were a bit stressed though because they both missed some of their maths lesson.

Emily and Jacob got a school report at the end of the year and parents were invited in twice a year for parents evening. They were also kept up to date with regular updates on their child's individual targets. They used to have assessments at the end of each term but recently this had become every half term and Jacob said all they did was tests. Emily said they were lucky because they got to do quizzes but some of them were really hard, particularly the SPAG quizzes. The end of year report showed their attendance for the year as well as a detailed summary of their progress and attainment which was compared to other schools locally and nationally. The reports were based upon English and Maths and Science. They also showed Emily and Jacobs next steps. They reports didn't really mention Art, Music, Topic or social skills because the information about progress and attainment was more important. 

School was were they went to learn, learn, learn in Maths and English.