Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools

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Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 697,867         Comments: 2,546

Burnley Grammar School
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There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

2546 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Archie on 2nd June 2014  

James

When you were in mixed gym class were you allowed to wear anything under your shorts? We weren't allowed to wear anything under ours until we were older when we could wear a jock or speedos under, though many of us wore briefs - we got belted if we got caught! I do remember that some lads didn't wear anything underneath even when they were a bit older notwithstanding they were a bit too big for their gym shorts....

Comments by Lorry on 30th May 2014  

Yes, meant wearing trunks was not on the Agenda. This was the practice at my school and many others. I did not wear trunks from early prep school from age 8 to about 15.
My sisters teased me a bit as they thought it was amusing that they were allowed to wear costumes and we wern't. I got my own back when we all forgot our swimming kit but i could still do my swimming lesson

Comments by mark on 30th May 2014  

Simon, I remember getting teased for having to wear shorts

Comments by Sam on 29th May 2014  

Matthew your comments about whther the Teachers should have also been naked are interesting. Possibly logical but I should think unlikely.

Comments by Simon on 29th May 2014  

Lorry,did you mean "wearing trunks was not on the agenda"?
Why were you teased by your sisters,I was teased by sisters for wearing short trousers?

Comments by James on 28th May 2014  

An awful as I think the treatment of boys in games and swimming in school was up to the 1980s,it may still surprise you to hear that I actually have no problem with naked swimming in principal but it has to be a free choice of any boy to do so.What right does anybody have to force nudity on teenage boys at any level?That goes for showers too.The reasons for naked swimming at my school were that you couldn't wimp out with the excuse that you had forgotten your kit.Having said that many lads still didn't bring a towel and ended up borrowing from a friend or getting dressed damp.Our classes used to involve about 36 boys at times and I would readily admit that maybe 10 of them loved it but they were the minority.I rememeber at the end of one lesson coming out of the pool and getting a loud bawling at for some minor reason by my games teacher.I just cannot begin to explain how utterly small and pathetic it made me feel to be shouted at while naked in front of my fully clothed adult teacher,as a boy of 14,while he was looking me up and down.During a lesson of about 70 minutes the boys would not be in the pool for the whole time and for periods would be required to stand at the edge in line watching in the pool doing various swim tasks.I always remember wandering where to put my hands.To cover or not.When we lined up at the start of the swimming periods at the side of the pool,as our names were ticked off the register,I was struck by how many of my classmates would put their arms behind their backs,maybe somewhat defiantly.We had a female school matron who had seemingly unrestricted access to the pool where boys or girls were swimming.She appeared on numerous occasions and I clearly recall us saying to us boys one day that there wasn't a lad in the 12 years she had worked there who she hadn't seen in his entirety.We all new what that meant.About 3 times a year wee would have the matron check the soles of our bare feet prior to our lesson,when we kneel in a line along a bench.Not one of us liked it.Oh!and guess what,we were ready to swim at the time,so naked.Now why did we have to be naked to have our feet looked at?On numerous occasions rumours circulated that we would be getting our penises checked out by her too.It stayed a rumour,thankfully.The simple fact is that there were a lot of boys who never got used to this behaviour by our school teachers and staff.Boys could be stripped,poked about,looked at etc.as if we had no care about it.But girls,well it was a world of difference.No naked swimming,nice swimwear of their choice,voluntary showering and nice gym kits too.They could wear their trainers in the gym,boys were bare feet and bare chested.Many were mixed so it mattered.The boys were to be "meat" to be checked over.Lots of boys didn't like taking their shirts off and going bare chested but were given no choice.

Comments by Matthew on 28th May 2014  

Sam, in an all-male context, trunks would probably have been considered unnecessary. By the same token, though, the teacher should not have needed them either.

Comments by Lorry on 28th May 2014  

Sam, you have to remember, this was a totally different era. The cane was used daily and i was not aware of parents complaining about this. Mine certainly didn't and in fact if i got the cane at school, i got further beatings at home. Not wearing trunks for swimming was just not even on the agenda. It didn't register as anything unusual as this is what we did. Always got a bit teased by my sisters but this was the norm. I did go to a private school and in the 70's, this was the way it was. Nowdays, i appreciate, we are a million miles away from where we were

Comments by George on 28th May 2014  

Jeff
We did sometimes have females come in to the swimming area. It really depended who they were. If it was one of the sports teachers or medical staff, never a problem. We were oblivious to them. The rule was that no trunks until year 3, ie about 15. Not compulsary and quite a few, especially the boarders stayed nude.
We did have house galas and these were all done nude if you were year 1 or 2. Only school staff watched. Not sure about galas outside school but i assume that trunks were worn

Comments by Sam on 27th May 2014  

I have read so many of the comments about nude swimming. This was something I did not experience. Does anyone have any definitive reason why nude swimming for boys was insisted upon in it seems many schools. Were there any parents that objected?

Could you imagine it happening nowadays assuming swimming lessons are single sex.

Comments by Jeff on 26th May 2014  

George, did you ever have any female teachers or staff present during your nude swimming?
Some of the earlier posters here said that they even had to be nude at swimming galas in front of parents and other mixed spectators.
Were the boys allowed to wear trunks after the 2nd year at school?
Was it a boys only or mixed school?

Comments by Matthew on 26th May 2014  

Thank you to James for your theory and thank you to Lorry for confirming what James suspected.

Comments by Lorry on 26th May 2014  

Matthew, we often had visitors wandering around the school and the teachers generally preferred us in the pool when they came into look at the pool. Also, some female teachers sometimes used the pool after our lessons had finished and they seemed to enjoy watching the last part of our lessons knowing that we were a little self concious.

Comments by James on 26th May 2014  

In reply to Matthew,I'm sure Lorry became accustomed to the conditioning of wearing no trunks during his swimming lessons but probably what caused so much alarm would be if a female entered the swimming pool area.

Comments by Matthew on 25th May 2014  

Sorry for doubting you, Lorry. But, if the school policy was no trunks and it applied to every boy, why were you quick to get into the pool if somebody entered the pool area?

Comments by Lorraine on 25th May 2014  

Yes, I am a boy, or man. Lorraine for some reason was a name used in my family for relations of some ancient uncle. A bot odd i know. Called Lorry now. Sorry for the confusion

Comments by George on 25th May 2014  

At weeekends at my boarding school in the late 70's, all the 1st and 2nd years in the secondary school had to swim naked. It always amused me that we had goggles, flippers, floats, even watches, but no trunks.

Comments by Jamie on 25th May 2014  

Similar to me. The swimming coach at my private secondary school gave private swimming lessons to any first year boys whose parents thought this would be good. We did these on a saturday afternoon and it was normally me and another boy. As nude swimming was the norm, the private lessons were done like this. We were only about 14 and thought nothing of it. As there were only two of us we always got changed next to the pool instead of the changing rooms. A lot of instruction at side of pool. The ooach sometimes got in the pool also, with trunks on, especially if he was teaching things like tumble turns where he helped us get on the right position. It wasn't the thing to be shy in those days

Comments by John on 24th May 2014  

As you can see from 14:00 boys had to be barechested for PE in Netherlands too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adqr4Iu3ibM

Comments by Matthew on 24th May 2014  

Another comment on the posting by "Lorraine". Not wearing trunks was "quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks". So why the need to "get into the water pretty quickly" if someone entered the pool area?

Comments by Matthew on 23rd May 2014  

Strange comment from "Lorraine". I thought that was a girl's name.

And a comment to James. How many were there in your class? The process you describe must have taken ages considering the amount of times the doctor and his assistant moved up and down the line.

Comments by Lorraine on 22nd May 2014  

In my first and second year of secondary school in the early 80's, i had extra swimming lessons with the pe teacher. These were often at lunchtime or after school and the agreement was that the pe teacher would see when the pool was free and tell me to meet him there. As we were not allowed to wear trunks, having kit was never an issue. Towells were always hanging around. The initial part of the lesson was standing out of the pool as he would make sure my arm and leg actions were ok. As i had never been allowed to wear trunks at school, this was quite normal and it would have felt odd to have to wear trunks. How things have changed. I would however add that when someone came into the pool area, i got in the water pretty quickly.

Comments by Andrea on 21st May 2014  andreatwo@hotmail.co.uk 

Showers were compulsory when I was at secondary school in the 1970s. As they were often cold, we used to spend as little time in there as possible!

At primary school, we didn't have proper changing rooms, let alone showers! In fact come to think of it, as we didn't have a shower at home (just a bath)the first time most of us ever had a shower was when we started secondary school. The only exception was the shower you were supposed to go under before getting in the local swimming pool, but that was different as you went in that in your swimming costume. Most of us didn't bother, but we did have to walk through a sort of foot-bath thing, filled with a horrible smelling chemical!

Comments by Jeff on 21st May 2014  

What about obligatory nude showers after PE?
Some schools had them, some didn't.
We didn't have them in primary, but had them in secondary, although not exactly obligatory.

Comments by James on 19th May 2014  

It's a bit off topic but if you only had to be bare chested during the first part of your school medical you were lucky!

I was at a boys grammar school and had a rather different experience to those described. It also happened to a number of friends who went to schools close by and we had the same doc who was a former military man. We had a medical in the autumn term of each year.

Medicals were done class by class and we had to report to the gym where the doc and two male assistants were waiting. A class list - surnames only (naturally) was read and we were told to get into alphabetical order. There was then an instruction to strip with an additional line that any little boys could keep their underpants on for now but the men in the class should strip completely. Naturally no one wanted to be deemed a 'little boy' and by that stage we were all used to taking off underpants for PE and having a communal shower so everyone stripped.

We were then examined by the doc who basically did one body part at a time, I can't remember the order but it started at the top so may have been mouths and worked down. One of the assistants accompanied the doc along the line making any notes.

Once chests and backs had been checked we had to stand up on benches and we were checked for hernias then our penises were checked to make sure our foreskins retracted - a few lads disappeared and returned trimmed, there were a few each year.

Lastly we were ordered to stand legs well apart and bend forward so our elbows were on our knees. On the next pass our testicles were checked from behind with the hand coming through our legs and we were ordered to cough, that was where the second assistant came in, he stood in front of us keeping our heads well down and making sure we were steady.

That over our buttocks were spread for a visual inspection in the first couple of years, in the third year that did not happen and didn't thereafter. There was an additional pass of the line and buttocks were spread and a finger inserted for a good feel around, again while we were held steady at the front by the orderly.

That over we were allowed to get dressed.

It was how I thought school medicals were done and was amazed to find out they weren't all!

Comments by Peter on 18th May 2014  

In reply to the messages where boys had to wear brief,short pants,my mother did the same but with horribly skin tight lycra shorts,from spring to autumn as soon as I got home there would be a pair of bike shorts laid out on the bed for me to change into,no underpants allowed.
Catalogue time was hell,she with a friend's mum would go through the catalogue and pick every pair of lycra shorts and show us the page and tell us we would be wearing them in a week or two.

Comments by Tom on 15th May 2014  

One thing that puzzled me about the annual medical exam at school was why we always had to be bare-chested throughout the whole procedure. Basically you were called into the medical room one at a time and straight away one of the nurses would check your name and tell you to take off your shirt. However, the first part of the exam just consisted of an eyesight test and I never really understood why I had to strip to the waist to have my sight checked. Then you had to sit down and wait for the boy in front of you to emerge from the doctor's office before you went in for the full examination and stripped down completely. I remember finding it a bit odd at the end of the exam when the doctor told me 'you can get dressed now' - to an extent I could but of course my shirt was still in the next room! When you left the doctor's office there were still a few tests to be done like checking your heartbeat and pulse rate but you remained bare-chested for those as well. It wasn't until everything was completed that you were allowed to put on your shirt and leave.

Comments by Jon on 15th May 2014  

At my school all the boys had to do PE stripped to the waist but as the lessons were single sex the only time the girls saw us bare-chested was at the annual medical when the boys had to queue to see the doctor/nurse while stripped to the waist.

Comments by stephy on 11th May 2014  

at me and my brothers school, the boys were never made to do PE shirtless, not even for shirts and skins. Though I wish they were!! Our only opportunity to see the boys with their shirts off was the yearly medical. We loved every second because while we got to wear our usual pe kit, the boys had to strip off and go barechested halfway through the exam, giving us plenty of time to check out their bare bods :3 These were always supposed to be carried out separately for boys and girls, but I guess the teachers organized it this way to save time, not that im complaining haha!

Comments by mark on 10th May 2014  

This may be true Michael, but shaming overweight children won't make them want to lose weight, it often sparks a weight increase as they will take refuge in food.
Its the parents who fill their kids full of rubbish, therefore thats where the need for education rests.
Yes we have an epidemic of obesity in the UK but the reasons are complex and go far beyond overeating. If it were that simple then it may be relatively easy to fix. But it is not

Comments by Michael on 9th May 2014  

I would have been glad of a bit of extra weight, if only to help insulate myself from the perishing cold of that gym and the icy showers I endured after each session. But, there was little chance of any of us gaining extra fat, with our high activity lifestyles and barely adequate meal portions.

In contrast, today's youngsters spend much of their time slumped in front of a video game, munching high-calorie saturated-fat junk food. It's no wonder the nation is heading towards an obesity crisis.

Comments by mark on 9th May 2014  

I remember when I was a school very few(if any) children were overweight. But it is a very different story today. It can be deeply traumatizing for an overweight child to be made to go bare chested in PE. I guarantee that someone will laugh at them. So there are many more considerations today than many years ago. And this is not about Political Correctness, it is about sensitivity. Laughing at an overweight child in PE etc can actually cause them to eat more as a refuge from their humiliation.

Comments by Jeff on 7th May 2014  

Thanks John Lavender for the video.
I don't see anything wrong in boys doing shirtless PE.
After all that's the way they, and all males, are when swimming in public, both at pools and public beaches.
So what's the big deal, or fuss being made by this Maltomon?
Talk about swimming, I wonder what he would say if nude swimming was still done in schools. He would probably be in hysteric fits.
I wonder if any readers here ever had nude swimming at school, besides that mentioned by Martin I think.
I still find it hard to believe, though it obviously was true in some schools.

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  http://www.topix.com/forum/education/TRVBQQPF7V57T2G29

I have just seen a Comment on the URL Shown above from sender "MaltaMon" (Dorval , Canada) Thus:
"I like to fantasize about boys going BOTTOMLESS for PE. That's the only kit I'm interested in."

If I were Malatmon,presumably here in the UK. I would change his/her Username. Sharpish. Coincidence can be Dangerous!

Comments by John Lavender on 5th May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

Hi I don't know whether if this is a re-post in terms of the URL but there is a good Video at this URL:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_gb0CUzwX0

IMHO there is NO BREACH OF PRIVACY on this Video because
1.the Class were Obviously Aware of the Filming
AND
2.there is No suggestion of any untoward Activity.

This is actually a very informative Video.

Comments by John Lavender on 3rd May 2014  finswimmerjohn52@gmail.com 

To Maltamon a Question.

How is bare-chestedness for Boys in PE a breach of Privacy?
Please explain.

Comments by John on 28th April 2014  

As more of you wrote that some of us are usually more self conscius in our teens than later but I agree the ones who wrote that shirtlessness is really not a big deal. There are many teens who chose to be shirtless doing sport in parks or bike rides...etc in the spring and summer months. I think they wouldn't really care if it were still a usual PE kit. There would be some who would feel shy first but most boys don't really care what they have to wear or not to wear for PE I think. So I don't think that shirtless PE has been declined over they years by the boys requests. They care less than teachers or parents think.
So I can't see the reason of Maltamon's phobia of shirtlessness for sports.

Comments by Maltamon on 27th April 2014  

Thanks to the help of people on this forum I have been instrumental in getting the topless pe rule repealed for boys at St Michaels Rochdale with Mumsnet.

http://www.stmichaelscemidd.rochdale.sch.uk/our-school/school-rules

This rule has now been removed their website.

You have also helped me play a key role in repealing the bare top rule for both sexes at the Alex mcleod school in London which stated that if boys/girls did not have t-shirts and shorts or could strip down to vest and knickers they had to do it baretop.

See the old 2012 prospectus now repealed.

AMP text Mar 12b.cdr - The TES
www.tes.co.uk/Upload/Attachments/.../AMP-Hand... [1].pd...‎
Welcome to Alexander McLeod Primary School. Contents ..... Leotard or sports shorts, pants or knickers, plus PLAIN vest, sports shirt or tee-shirt,(or bare top).

It is thanks for the people on this forum that we are getting rid of all topless requirements and bare-chest options for boys at the 3 remaining primary/community schools in the UK.

These offending schools are
1 http://www.holmevalley.n-lincs.sch.uk/parents/key-information-1/school-uniform

Clothing for P.E.

Indoor
Girls - Black leotard

Boys - Black PE shorts
Outdoor
A change of clothing is required for outdoor games

Black Shorts and white T-Shirt

Trainers/black plimsolls—not shoes worn during the school day.

Track suit - advisable in cold weather

2 http://www.marshfieldprimary.co.uk/index.php?page=36

Games and PE

Games and PE are compulsory for all children, except those permanently excluded on health grounds. These children must have a note form their GP to this effect. Those suffering from minor ailments will only be excused if supported by a brief note from the parents. Suitable clothing for PE is essential.

No child will be allowed to participate in gymnastics and games unless appropriate clothing and footwear is worn. Clothing for educational gymnastics and dance:

Girls: T shirt / school polo shirt and shorts or leotard.
Boys: shorts.
All work in the hall will be carried out in bare feet except where parents request otherwise, perhaps because of a foot infection. Should this be the case, trainers or plimsolls should be worn.

Clothing for games and skills lessons boys and girls:

T shirt / school polo shirt.
Shorts or tracksuits for cold days.
Plimsolls / trainers / football boots as appropriate

3 http://larkshill.wakefield.sch.uk/school-uniform-2/

Pupils Recommended Dress for PE Indoor:

Boys: dark shorts and white vest/bare chest.

Girls: navy/black leotards (Reception to Y3); navy/black leotard or white T-shirt and dark shorts (Y4 – Y6).

Footwear is not worn for gymnastics or dance. Written exceptions for medical reasons.

If boys get to wear the same PE kit as girls for outdoor sports I think indoor sports kit should be gender nuetral as well. Thanks again for helping get schools across the country to introduce Unisex uniforms.

Remember we are only asking schools to implement the Childrens Act 1989, Human Rights Act 1999 and The Equalities Act 2010. School teachers are very hypocritical in this regard as they would never allow their own trade union members to be discriminated against on gender grounds but are happy to implement prejudicial rules for school children in compulsory education where the unwilling participants have little choice against this breach of privacy and abuse of state power.

Comments by Jeff on 27th April 2014  

About the picture.
Does the picture state if it is a primary or secondary school?
By the boys ages it is either a late primary or first year secondary school. Most likely the latter since we had neither a proper gym or PE instructor in primary school.
PE in primary was usually playing games and doing exercises in the school yard under the supervision of our class teacher.
We only had proper gyms with qualified PE instructors/coaches in secondary school.
As for PE uniform I remember it was the same in both schools, just white shorts and white T-shirt. Never remember being shirtless, though this seems to have been common in some schools.
As for undressing and changing into PE gear, this was usually done in class, boys and girls together, in primary school. In secondary we changed in the gym, with separate classes for boys and girls.

About showers, we didn't have any in primary school, and although there were showers in the gym changing room in Secondary I don't remember anyone using them.
I know this was not all the same for all schools, especially private(fee paying) schools where the regime was more strict, with compulsary showers after PE both in Primary and Secondary schools.

School swimming pools were also rare, again mostly existed in private schools. I was not aware that boys had to swim nude in some of these schools, as late as the 70s and 80s, until recently through the Internet.

Comments by Simon on 26th April 2014  

The reason I remained in shorts was slightly obscure to me.At age thirteen I had reached the rite of passage where boys at that age usually reached the transition of being promoted to wearing long trousers but my mother exercised her authority and decided to keep me in shorts for a further two years.This decision continued the effect of being ostracized by my contempories.Fortunately,I wore co-ordinated briefs with my shorts,so I didn't have the embarrassment of my underwear showing.I resigned myself to the fact that it would be a long-standing arrangement to remain in short trousers.

Comments by Pete on 25th April 2014  

The photo is one of nostalgia for me and reminds me of the time when I moved from Junior to Secondary school. Due to boundary changes it meant that the boys I had been class mates with in Junior School would be going to a different school to me be cause I was now in a different catchment area. So I started at at Secondary school as the new kid becuase all the other boys came from a different Junior school and already had their friends with them.

That was not too bad until we came to the first PE lesson when we had to strip down and for me this was with boys I did not know which made me feel uncomfortable at first.

However, over a period I got used to it.

In addition, because I was quite small, dad kept me in grey shorts for some years, which made me feel quite young when I felt I should be growing up. At least I was not still in shorts in the 4th or 5th form such as some previous accounts show. It must have been uncomfortable for these lads as their bodies developed, to be have such constriction caused by tight shorts with presumably with tight briefs underneath.

Comments by Andrew on 25th April 2014  

This brought back many memories.Shorts were compulsory for boys at infant and middle school. At secondary school we had to wear shorts for the first two years, after that long trousers were allowed. But many mothers insisted on their boys wearing shorts until age 16(mine included) The shorts were grey and very short. Teasing could be merciless especially if you had strict parents who smacked your legs and bottoms a lot.
I remember that teachers at infant and middle school smacked boys bare legs frequently. Thus leaving embarrassing red marks or handprints. When I got home with marked legs, my mother would give me a spanking. After that she would quickly have me in my pyjamas ready for an early bedtime. My friends also got the same.
PE was done in the gym bare foot and barechested throughout my school career. Boys did it in their underpants until secondary school and then we wore white shorts without underpants. As I got older i started to feel very exposed dressed like that. I was the tallest in the class as well.

Comments by David on 22nd April 2014  

I thought I was the only one who had a mother who shortened shorts! By the time she was finished the inseam was never more than two inches and sometimes less and they were always very fitting.

I didn't matter whether they were for school or home, I tried them on in the shop to make sure they fitted and as soon as we got home the sewing machine came out and they were altered.

I went to a particularly strict grammar school where shorts were compulsory in the first three years and 'at the parent's discretion' in the fourth and fifth forms. Needless to say I wore them until the end of the fifth form but I was not the only one - there were five of us out of eighty boys in the year.

Only when I started sixth form did I get a pair of longs. I was never allowed jeans and had a formal pair of longs for church and the like but at home shorts were the norm until I went to university.

There was a bit of teasing at school but given that we all wore shorts for three years everyone could remember what it was like.

In the fourth and fifth form shorts were also sometimes used as a sanction and a boy who had been sent to the headmaster and caned might be ordered to wear shorts for as long as a month after the caning making it obvious the boy had been in trouble. At least for the shorts wearers we escaped that humiliation.

It was strange really, for most boys having a striped bottom to show in the changing room and showers was a trophy which we were all proud of (though I for one had a different demeanor while actually being caned!) boys who were put back in shorts hated it more than getting the cane so it was probably a most effective punishment.

Comments by Simon on 21st April 2014  

Martin,thank you for your reply,I saw it as a travesty wearing trim,snug fitting tight short trousers,while going through adolescence,a rule rigidly imposed by my mother,simply for her own gratification.This not only had the effect of a very juvenile appearance but caused considerable ridicule and loss of dignity.

Comments by Martin on 20th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Simon, you are definatly right, back in the 1970's (and the 1980's as well) girls probably had some input on what they wore but boys certainly didn't. We were 'dressed' by our mums and had to like it or lump it! If your mum decided you were going to school in shorts, that's what you did, although in many primary schools (including mine) shorts were compulsory for all boys, and looking at my old school photos from that era they were extremely short and quite tight fitting, unlike the rather baggy ones from a few years earlier! Some schools also allowed or required boys to wear them at secondary school for the first one or two years, but usually we were in 'longs' by age 13 at the latest. This died out incredibly quickly, changing fashions I guess, but in the 1982 junior school photos from my school (Shears Green) ALL the boys (even the 11 year olds) are wearing little tiny grey shorts, but by 1985 almost all are in long trousers! It may have been a change of headmaster as I think Mr Hale retired about then and that was when the nude swimming lessons died out as well!

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

Sorry about the spelling error,I meant to say,I was not allowed to stand with my hands in my pockets.

Comments by Simon on 19th April 2014  

My mother controlled my clothing and made me wear short pants.Basically my mother was very contolling of my clothes,my looks and my presentation.She would buy my clothes and often choose what I was to wear each day.This was the 1970's and boys'shorts were pretty short and long socks were"in" but my mother was intense about it.I was always dressed in really short shorts.I did not even own a pair of long trousers until I was through my first year at High School aand then it was because the school wrote her several letter explaining that the boys'uniform did not include shorts.I remember being acutely aware of my bare legs as I sat in the school assembly.The only bare boy's legs along lines and lines of grey trousered legs,except of course for girls who wore dresses.It was not until I was fifteen that I was bought a pair of jeans and even then I was rarely allowed to wear them.She would buy shorts,that I think when even when bought were a size too small and even then she would actually use her sewing machine to fold the leg cuffs up to even make them shorter.Think these denim shorts that girls wear these days,well that was me,a boy in the 1970's.When we went shopping she would make me try on several pairs of shorts,they had to be tight across my bottom and make comments about how nice it looked.It's not like any of my clothes were kept long,I was always bought new clothes.She would have the advertising catalogues from the shops and look through them and then we would go on a shopping expedition but again the clothes had to be tight fitting.I would have long socks held up by elastic garters to just below my knees.The other thing she would do is sew up all but one of my pockets,as I was not allowed to stant with my hands in my pockets.She used to constantly comment on how nice I looked and how bad the other kids looked.If I pointed out how every one else was wearing looser clothing she would snap at me or make some derisive comment or say"well we are not everyone else".

Comments by Martin on 19th April 2014  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

In reply to Laura: I was being slightly sarcastic in my 'H&S' comments, I realise full well that the use of H&S as an excuse is more often based on lazyness or over-enthusiastic interpretation than actual fact!!! I also appreciate that the VAST majority of teachers give 110% (or possibly slightly more) to the job, the only ones who don't of course, are maths teachers for whome the idea of giving 110% is a mathematical anathema (just a joke, people!) I am also impressed that you have maintained dress standards for PE in your school and that the showers have not been consigned to an equipment storage area as has happened in so many schools! I suspect though that you maybe teach at either a Private fee paying school, or a highly sought-after secondary who can use their status as 'leverage' to persuade parents to make sure their children conform! I do HOPE that this is just me being cynical and that you can tell me I am wrong....

Comments by Laura on 17th April 2014  lcclinton4@yahoo.co.uk 

Someone recently asked about dealing with health and safety in PE today. I teach at a girls' school, and I do have to spend some time doing risk assessments. These are not too onerous though, and do help to make one think about un-necessary risks. H&S does not stop us doing anything I want to do, and this includes rope climbing to the ceiling, use of wall-bars and vaulting equipment. H&S can be used by some lazy teachers as an excuse not to teach proper PE!

Questions were also asked about clothing. While I know there are far to many schools allowing, or even insisting on tracksuits and teeshirts, plently still insist on proper kit. My own girls wear white sleeveless leotards indoors for gymnastics, and gym knickers and vests for other indoor lessons, atletics and cross country. Indoors they always go barefoot.

We also still have communal showers, a grand total of eight shower heads for a whole class!

Comments by Michael on 16th April 2014  

I could never see the point of most of the activities in my old Grammar School gym, which was similar to that shown in the picture.

For example, not being called "Tarzan", I could never understand the purpose of rope climbing, with its attendant risks.

Even if a thick coir mat was placed under the rope, it would have done little to break the impact of anyone falling from high up, close to the lofty ceiling.

In all my adult life, I have never needed to climb a rope, so the risks I took in that gym, could hardly be justified as providing useful experience for later life.

I could say the same for the vaulting horse pictured, which seemed then as now, to be nothing more than a short cut to getting a broken neck.

The only thing which got me to use these instruments of torture, among others, was my stark fear of the gym teacher. I was always more afraid of him, than any of the gym equipment. The greater fear overcame the lesser, so despite my grave misgivings, I found myself climbing ropes and using the vaulting horse; miraculously (and no thanks to the teacher), without serious injury.

It was not a pleasant experience overall, looking back.



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