First day of school 684



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Can you remember your first day at school? I have to admit, the memory is rather vague, after all, it was seventy four years ago, and quite a lot has happened since then. I do have a fairly clear recollection of being taken there by my mother, walking from home, which was only about half a mile away from Filton Avenue Primary School in Bristol. There were quite a few other young children about my age there as well, each with a parent and some showing various degrees of stress at the thought of being left in a strange place. Luckily for me, I knew quite a few of the new kids; most of them were neighbours from the same street as mine, children I had been playing with and getting to know for some time before this fateful day.

Some parents made things worse by getting into panics, somewhat worse than their children were suffering, but luckily for me (again), Mum kept pretty calm and acted as if this was the most normal thing in the world to happen to me, which I suppose it was, really, though I may not have thought it at the time!

Suddenly, a bell rang and several ladies appeared from somewhere, who we soon discovered were teachers. The parents were politely asked to leave, we children were formed into an untidy line and one of the ladies started calling out our names, which we were told to reply to when we heard our own. Then we were divided up into what must obviously have been pre-planned groups, each under the care of one teacher and led to our classroom. The lady looking after me and about twenty other children was Mrs. Green and she was to be my teacher for the first school-year of my life. She was a tall woman, with grey hair tied into a bun at the nape of her neck and she invariably wore a pale blue suit, made of some fairly heavy tweed material, with a skirt that stopped about five inches below her knees. Her shoes were black brogues, her stockings thick and ‘sensible’ and she wore a silk blouse under the suit jacket, creamy white in colour with a sort of high, ruffled neck, held in place with a large silver brooch. I wasn’t clever enough to work all this out at the time of course, but looking back from my elevated, ancient position, I’m pretty certain I’ve given a fairly accurate description of how she looked. She appeared fairly stern at first, but as we got to know her, it was obvious that she was a very kind person, who gave us an excellent grounding in sums, reading and writing, before we moved up to the next level of our education.

The work, such as it was, was really pretty easy during the first days and weeks at school, with much of the time taken up with organised games, themselves part of the education I am sure, plus sleep periods when we all lay in sponge rubber mats on the floor of the room, not allowed to make any noise.

One of the big events each day, especially in the summer, was the mid-morning break, when we were all given a small bottle of lovely, ice cold milk to drink, full cream and not pasteurised or homogenised either – a really delicious drink which would no doubt be considered as unhygienic nowadays! This treat wasn’t so welcome in the winter, when Mrs Green insisted on putting the bottles of milk on the class heating pipes to take the chill off. It really tasted disgusting after this treatment and definitely needed a little sugar or something to make it acceptable.

We kids all had a lot of fun during that first year, once we got over the trauma of the first day, but it was still always a moment of joy when the bell rang again to end the day and we could all rush outside to our parents, waiting for us at the gates!


What do you remember from your first day of school? What did your parents do? Were they upset or relieved? Tell us your stories below!

Photo credit: Retrofile

Brian Lee

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