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They will be OK

29th May 2020 @ 6:06am – by Geoff Farr
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st james primary school children

School Problems

I am hearing of very anxious parents who are finding the present virus problems interrupting schooling. Don't be anxious, it will turn out alright in the end.

The children will come to learn what they will need to know to embark upon their lives.

Let me take you on a tour of my school. It was the Delve's Charity school at Wybunbury and was no different from the many other country schools in Cheshire and further afield.

For a start we pupils called it the devil's school with much justification.

It did not achieve a very high standard of academic achievement though there were several boys who ultimately occupied exalted positions in their chosen professions.

I would like you in your mind's eye to compare the palaces of education which your children attend.

First let me examine the heating system designed to keep the children warm and comfortable. There was a very crude coke stove and a pump less system of circulation. To aid this old stove where incidentally, the pupils manned the stoke holed and shovelled coke into the boiler, there was a coal fire at one end of the school room. There were two school rooms.

The toilets were across the yard – they were pail closets which needed a weekly visit of the council muck cart.

Across the school garden there were the air raid shelters with their cold concrete seats. They generated regular exercises in rapidly emptying the school and filling the shelters.

My attendance began in 1940 and ended in 1952.

Yes ! 1940 was the year that the battle of Britain took place and the entire country was busy manufacturing armaments. There was rather less than little resources to spend on the education of my generation.

For my entire time at school I never saw a new printed book enter the building. That is library book or lesson exercise book. Every book had to last for the entire period of the war. The only books I saw arriving were for pupils to write in and to make their notes in and the writing was with metal nibs dipped into desk inkwells.

There were no radios, televisions computers or calculators for obvious reasons.

There was a black board and chalk for communications.

There were no Physics' labs ,Language labs or any other paraphernalia.

To begin to use our splendid language it was a repetition of CAT cat, MAT mat and I before E except after C. Our appreciation of arithmetic began with learning by repetition the times tables up to twelve twelves are one hundred and forty four ONE GROSS.

We began our education at four to five years old and ended it at fifteen years old.

Though it had continued through frightening days of threatened invasion until aged ten we were no longer at war, though shortages and rationing continued beyond 1952 onward to 1957.

Our school master thought it much more important to be able to recite loudly and with enthusiasm Sir Henry Newbold's poem THE TORCH OF LIFE than to mess about with Algebra, Geometry .Trigonometry Slide rules and Logarithms.

After the war had ended and our new prime minister was Clement Attlee it was decided in the higher echelons that children were not yet mature enough or educated enough to begin to work at fourteen so an extra year was added to our schooling . However , that extra year was of no benefit as no new or more advanced task books were supplied ,so we had to repeat the previous year again with no advancement or learning.

As a contrast you will be aware that your children are not presently thought able to emerge into the world of work until eighteen. Aren't they lucky.?

So don't lose sleep worrying that they are missing a few weeks of education.

They will have time to catch up and excel in their chosen professions if they are determined.

My education did not really begin until I left school and in order to obtain my degree and associateship I attended night school and part time day release.

Yes ! if you check your history books you will see that Queen Elisabeth and myself both began our work the same week and I have not yet stopped learning. Don't get upset , they will be OK.


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