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Primary school during the early 1980s

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  • Primary school during the early 1980s

    I have been informed by people who attended primary school during the early 1980s that they were barely any different from primary schools in the 1970s. The major reforms to primary school education didn't take place until the late 1980s. The most prominent differences was the introduction of new technology – video recorders, photocopiers, computers – that took place during the early 1980s although plenty of primary schools didn't have any of them until after 1985.

    1. There was no standard year group system for primary schools. The names of years varied between local authorities and even individual schools. There were some strange names such as Rising Fives for reception class.

    2. School term dates were not standardised across England. Some local authorities observed Wakes Week instead of the May half term.

    https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...-may-half-term

    3. No national curriculum. Some local authorities had their own curricula, to a varying degree, but others were light touch and allowed individual schools to set their own curriculum.

    4. The lack of a national curriculum resulted in significant variations in the quality of teaching; the academic standards; the diversity and choice of subjects taught; and the style of teaching and assessment on a school by school basis. Some schools taught particular subjects – like music with proper instruments or D&T with proper tools, but others didn't. Some schools had lessons in geography, history, science, whereas others confined it to themes. Some schools had teachers that actually taught lessons whereas others just gave students worksheets with the teacher effectively being a classroom supervisor. Some schools had textbooks whereas other schools the teacher taught everything without any textbooks. Some schools had tests and exams whereas other schools operated a continuous assessment model.

    5. A potentially narrower curriculum than primary schools taught in the 1990s through to today.

    6. The teaching of science in primary schools was highly inconsistent and could vary dramatically from school to school due to the lack of a standard curriculum. Some primary schools taught science as a subject, others only taught it as part of a theme, others didn't even teach science at all. Some primary schools would teach physics and chemistry whereas others confined science to nature study.

    https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...e-in-the-1980s

    7. Many primary schools did not teach non-Christian religions unless the school was in an area with a high proportion of non-Christian immigrants. It was commonplace for primary schools to teach about religion in the assembly hall through hymn singing, Bible readings, plays etc. rather than through RS lessons in the classroom.

    8. It was common for schools to teach ball and stick handwriting (teachers called it printing at the time) in reception class, and students would only start writing cursive around the age of 8 or 9. This had a result of screwing up handwriting for many children as they never managed to transition to cursive.

    9. Themes were quite a popular concept and were often used to teach most of the science, history, and geography rather than official timetabled lessons.

    https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...312#post197312

    10. It was the heyday of BBC and ITV schools programmes. In the absence of a national curriculum then teachers would cherry pick whatever programmes they found interesting for their class. Quite often schools would teach themes based around a particular series of programmes being broadcast that term.

    11. Many schools did not set regular homework apart from reading (fiction), a spelling test, things to do with the theme of the term.

    12. Many parents had no idea what their children were learning, or supposed to be learning due to the absence of a national curriculum and homework. Even the students often had no idea themselves.

    13. In the absence of a national curriculum, school report were highly opinionated as there was no national benchmark to compare the academic performance of students with. Teachers could easily say bad things about students they didn't like even if they were very good academically.

    14. There were no SATS exams. Students would finish primary school without taking any tests of exams.

    15. Teachers were not keen on students who were too clever. The prevailing culture was that teachers preferred students who just muddled along and went with the flow. Most teachers also preferred students who worked hard and behaved well, even if they were only average intelligence, than students which were above average intelligence.

  • #2
    I was surprised that this hadn't got any replies yet. Anyway...

    Originally posted by Arran View Post

    3. No national curriculum. Some local authorities had their own curricula, to a varying degree, but others were light touch and allowed individual schools to set their own curriculum.
    The National Curriculum came into force as a result of the Education Reform Act 1988 in the same year (the start of the 1988-1989 academic year), although I do believe that some sort of curriculum had already existed prior to that, for example the Education Act 1944, alias the Butler Act after the then President of Board of Education RA (or Rab) Butler. I believe that back then the academic year was the same as the calendar year but that was what someone had said many years ago.

    Originally posted by Arran View Post

    7. Many primary schools did not teach non-Christian religions unless the school was in an area with a high proportion of non-Christian immigrants. It was commonplace for primary schools to teach about religion in the assembly hall through hymn singing, Bible readings, plays etc. rather than through RS lessons in the classroom.
    We still have Church of England Primary Schools although I believe that by law they have to teach pupils of all faiths these days - it would seem as discriminative if they didn't. It made me think that schools should omit the "Church of England" moniker on their names so that it doesn't sound biased towards just one religion. Of my nieces went to a Catholic school but I would hardly say that she was a Catholic herself. And my Junior School had a above average Muslim population - when Ramadan coincided with Christmas one year there was some controversy regarding impartiality towards marking both events at the same time.

    Originally posted by Arran View Post

    10. It was the heyday of BBC and ITV schools programmes. In the absence of a national curriculum then teachers would cherry pick whatever programmes they found interesting for their class. Quite often schools would teach themes based around a particular series of programmes being broadcast that term.
    Broadcasters had always said that it was up to the class teacher (if not the whole school) to decide what would be suitable for their class to watch and if necessary, opt out of some programmes that they might not think as being unsuitable. Subjects like sex education programmes (in which even parents had a say as to whether their children could be allowed to watch), and also the scheduling of schools programmes for 14-16-year-olds following one for 5-7-year-olds and one came across the wrong programme by accident.


    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Arran View Post

      1. There was no standard year group system for primary schools. The names of years varied between local authorities and even individual schools. There were some strange names such as Rising Fives for reception class.
      I know that my Infant school class had the year above when I was in the first year and the year below when I was in the second. In the final year of Juniors my class was shared with the year below - as my birthday is at the end of August it meant that I was no longer the youngest in my class which pleased me - in fact, my age back then was the most average in my class.


      Originally posted by Arran View Post

      2. School term dates were not standardised across England. Some local authorities observed Wakes Week instead of the May half term.
      I believe that it was due to the school itself if it was independently maintained, otherwise it was the LEA or local council that set the rules - half-term weeks were the acid test when it came to variation of when schools took their break.


      Originally posted by Arran View Post

      5. A potentially narrower curriculum than primary schools taught in the 1990s through to today.
      I do think that the three Rs were the basics in schools back then - the fact that teachers taught all subjects to the same class was probably one reason for that.



      I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
      There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
      I'm having so much fun
      My lucky number's one
      Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

      Comment


      • #4
        As a footnote, my Primary (Infant and Juniors) years were 1983 to 1989 - we had the Joyce Grenfell-alike Infant teachers even as late as 1985, the small pints of milk, the "sit on the carpet until home time" and so on - I met mine for the first time in a decade at a 1995 reunion at the school. In the Juniors, we had teachers who seemed to have preferred school uniform in a non-uniform school themselves as they looked closer to wearing one than the kids did. Having a woman "boss" like I did (well, they did call her "Miss") was a strange thing indeed... If only I knew a bit more about the NASUWT back then...

        I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
        There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
        I'm having so much fun
        My lucky number's one
        Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
          The National Curriculum came into force as a result of the Education Reform Act 1988 in the same year (the start of the 1988-1989 academic year), although I do believe that some sort of curriculum had already existed prior to that, for example the Education Act 1944, alias the Butler Act after the then President of Board of Education RA (or Rab) Butler. I believe that back then the academic year was the same as the calendar year but that was what someone had said many years ago.
          There wasn't really any national curriculum prior to September 1988. Some LEAs had standardised curricula in core subjects and standard textbooks for subjects, but others allowed individual primary schools to arrange their own curricula and select their own books and resources.

          Broadcasters had always said that it was up to the class teacher (if not the whole school) to decide what would be suitable for their class to watch and if necessary, opt out of some programmes that they might not think as being unsuitable. Subjects like sex education programmes (in which even parents had a say as to whether their children could be allowed to watch), and also the scheduling of schools programmes for 14-16-year-olds following one for 5-7-year-olds and one came across the wrong programme by accident.
          BBC and ITV schools had created some form of unofficial national curriculum and effectively added material to the school curriculum - such as Ancient Egypt in history lessons - that schools probably wouldn't have taught otherwise.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
            I do think that the three Rs were the basics in schools back then - the fact that teachers taught all subjects to the same class was probably one reason for that.
            ??????????

            Even in the 1970s it was common for different teachers to teach certain subjects such as PE or music. When I was in KS1 I didn't have a timetable, apart from a few lessons, and my class teacher taught almost everything. When I was in KS2 I had a timetable for the entire week, and had different teachers for certain subjects.

            It's obvious but unobvious that teachers can only teach what they know. If they don't know it then they can't teach it!

            The generation of primary school teachers trained in the 1970s generally didn't have to have knowledge of science, computers, music, non-Christian religions etc. and most of their training centred around the 3Rs. Only when the National Curriculum was introduced did they have to have knowledge of these subjects.



            Comment


            • #7
              16. Many students knew the meaning of work to rule as strikes and industrial action by teaching unions was commonplace.

              17. Schools produced multiple copies of documents using thermofax copiers and stencil duplicators before they had photocopiers. Many secretaries used mechanical typewriters to produce correspondence. It was an era before Arial and Comic Sans. If you wanted to look at Times Roman then you had to look at the Times newspaper.

              18. It was commonplace for students with SEN to be treated like dirt and accused of having behavioural problems or bad parenting. Many teachers, and even LEA officials, denied that dyslexia existed and it was a middle class excuse for poor performance.

              19. Special diets (vegetarian, religious etc.) were not always available for school dinners.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Arran View Post

                19. Special diets (vegetarian, religious etc.) were not always available for school dinners.
                My Junior school had quite a few Muslim pupils and so therefore they needed to be a variation on the menu for religious reasons.
                I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                I'm having so much fun
                My lucky number's one
                Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arran View Post

                  18. It was commonplace for students with SEN to be treated like dirt and accused of having behavioural problems or bad parenting. Many teachers, and even LEA officials, denied that dyslexia existed and it was a middle class excuse for poor performance.
                  P have always wondered what would have happened if I had an Asperger Syndrome, dyspraxia or anything else diagnosis while I was still at school - whether it would have been a good or a bad thing. Many people would have said that it would have been a bad thing as some people there could have used it against me, but on the other hand, the support that I needed would have been there back then if the SEN staff knew about it. No, I was too mainstream for special school territory, but in Year 10 and 11 I hated school so much that I did school refusal - being assaulted coming home from school one afternoon made me come to that conclusion.

                  I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                  There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                  I'm having so much fun
                  My lucky number's one
                  Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                    My Junior school had quite a few Muslim pupils and so therefore they needed to be a variation on the menu for religious reasons.
                    If a school had lots of students who followed a particular religion then it was more likely to offer special diets. It wasn't always the case as menus (along with procurement of food) in some LEAs were centrally controlled by officials and councillors who were ignorant of dietary requirements or unwilling to provide them - often on grounds of equality. Even vegetarian meals were only provided after arm wrenching by parents and sometimes required medical evidence.

                    Ironically, it was Thatcher's Conservative government with its cutbacks to school dinners that opened the door to choice and ultimately the provision of special diets.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                      P have always wondered what would have happened if I had an Asperger Syndrome, dyspraxia or anything else diagnosis while I was still at school - whether it would have been a good or a bad thing. Many people would have said that it would have been a bad thing as some people there could have used it against me, but on the other hand, the support that I needed would have been there back then if the SEN staff knew about it. No, I was too mainstream for special school territory, but in Year 10 and 11 I hated school so much that I did school refusal - being assaulted coming home from school one afternoon made me come to that conclusion.
                      Asperger Syndrome was not known about in Britain until 1991 when Hans Asperger's papers had been translated into English by Uta Frith who then published a book on the subject.

                      Students with Asperger Syndrome in the 1980s were generally deemed to have behavioural problems because they were average or above average academically in the main subjects. At the time the prevailing view was that students only had SEN if they were behind academically in the main subjects. As a result, it was quite common to send students with Asperger Syndrome to reform schools which were unsuitable places for them and full of bullies and staff which supported bullying.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                        As a footnote, my Primary (Infant and Juniors) years were 1983 to 1989 - we had the Joyce Grenfell-alike Infant teachers even as late as 1985, the small pints of milk, the "sit on the carpet until home time"
                        What exactly was the sit on the carpet until home time all about?



                        Comment


                        • #13
                          We use to have carpet time just before going home, where we would recap on the days lessons and were given the opportunity to voice any problems.
                          Then we would each say one good thing that had happened in our day.
                          sigpic

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
                            Broadcasters had always said that it was up to the class teacher (if not the whole school) to decide what would be suitable for their class to watch and if necessary, opt out of some programmes that they might not think as being unsuitable. Subjects like sex education programmes (in which even parents had a say as to whether their children could be allowed to watch), and also the scheduling of schools programmes for 14-16-year-olds following one for 5-7-year-olds and one came across the wrong programme by accident.
                            Here's an interesting one...

                            A friend was learning about the Ancient Greeks and Romans at primary school. By co-incidence Ulysses 31 was being shown on CBBC although his teacher was not aware of it at the outset.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              20. Very few kids had any English, maths, and science study books to use at home. I’m under the impression that books in these subjects at primary school level were very rare back in the 1980s, although O Level and CSE revision books for secondary school students were mainstream.

                              I have been informed that primary school kids were strongly encouraged by teachers to read fiction back in the 1980s but were discouraged from reading factual books.

                              https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...s-from-the-80s

                              A small number of parents would record BBC and ITV schools programmes for their kids to watch at home, but watching such programmes at home was seen as controversial, or even weird, and it was not encouraged by teachers.

                              Many history, geography, and science programmes for schools were quite enjoyable to watch at home by kids and parents.

                              https://forums.doyouremember.co.uk/f...rammes-at-home

                              Comment

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