Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 686,793         Comments: 2,472

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

2472 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

Sorry, that reply should have been to MARK, not MARTIN as it was Mark that was questioning the need to wear pyjamas, I am inclined to agree with him!

Comments by Debbie on 12th December 2013  

In reply to Martin: My younger brother was in the Cubs when he was at primary school, in a cub pack that was based at the school. There was about 30 of them in cubs but it was all boys in those days, the leaders were all female, a teacher and a couple of 'mums'. They used to go to camp a couple of times a year and sometimes had 'sleepovers' in the gym on fridays after cubs. It was no secret that the pack had a pyjama 'tops' only rule at bedtime and that they weren't allowed to wear anything from the waist down, everyone at school knew! I have absolutely no idea why they had that rule but apparently it had always been like that! I used to tease my brother about it but he always said he wasn't bothered! That was in the 1970's.

Comments by James on 11th December 2013  

This is just how I remember PE, it was great fun and I used to really look forward to the classes. We used to have two double lessons and also a compulsory lunch time session and those days were the best, somehow it was easier to work in class on other things when we'd done gym, had a good run or played rugby.

I'm not saying it was all easy, it wasn't and high standards were set in terms of timing and effort and also sportsmanship, not something you hear much about these days. Not trying hard enough or fooling around got the slipper or if it was serious the cane. The slipper was usually given there and then in the gym, the cane was 'saved' until the end of the lesson to give you 'something to look forward to' and given in private on your bare bottom. Every boy including me who left that office after getting the cane did so in tears.

Like I think everyone else posting, underpants were not allowed and we always had cold, communal, compulsory showers after each class. No body minded, it's how it was and I look back on it all as great fun.

Sometimes these days when I see younger lads dancing behind their towels in the gym changing room I really do wonder what they are trying to hide. Are lads today too soft?

Comments by Mark on 11th December 2013  

I just found it weird that my boarding school had opted for a shirtless PE kit, naked showers after PE, and on the other hand we had to wear a full set of pyjamas to bed ! Maybe someone can explain the logic of this ?

Comments by David on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school (1967-74) we weren't allowed to wear our ordinary underwear for PE and showers were compulsory. For the first couple of years we all went commando but later on we were advised that some support was necessary. A few bought the Litesome supporters recommended, but most of us just wore our swimming trunks under our shorts

Comments by scotslad on 8th December 2013  

It is interesting reading how things were in other schools. At my primary the boys wore their white pe shorts. No top. In fact I never did pe from ages 5-17 wearing a top. Girls at primary wore their vest and regulation navy blue knickers. I cannot recall any ever going topless. As noted previously, topless or even in a vest would not be tolerated these days. I spoke to my wife about her experiences. She confirmed that she too did primary school pe in vest and knickers. When she went to the girls only senior secondary school the vest and knickers were the usual kit for girls in the early years. As a girl developed then they started to wear an Airtex blouse over their bra. They wore the regulation knickers all the way through school. My wife was 13 1/2 before she wore a bra,so did pe until then in a vest. She says that she never thought anything about it.

There was never any suggestion of nude swimming though-they all had standard navy school costume.

Comments by Yorkie on 8th December 2013  

During my time at secondary school up to 1966 when we when all our class were 16 years old there was never any mention of Jockstraps & we were not told to buy them. Consequently everything hung loose during PE & games & no boxes for Cricket either & we survived

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

BTW: in addition to my other comments, Shears Green Junior School in Kent is still going strong and STILL has the same indoor swimming pool! (I saw the photo, how many memories it brings back!) They have a very nice website for the school these days, however boys and girls doing swimming lessons completely naked and everyone doing PE and country dancing 'topless' with none of us (including the girls) allowed to wear anything except a single very thin pair of shorts, is unfortunately very much a thing of the past having died out in the late 1980's or the early 90's when Mr Hale retired as Headteacher! Bit sad really!

Comments by Martin on 8th December 2013  martin.hill32@hushmail.com 

Further to my comments below, I have found another facebook site dedicated to Shears Green Junior School, again there are many, many memories of the mixed nude swimming that many of us from 7 to 11½ took part in, most people comment (looking back as adults) that it was rather dodgy and a little bit 'strange' but I think this is looking at it from the perspective of 2013, at the time all of us who took part every week thoroughly enjoyed it. From memory I think we only needed our parents permission for the 'mixed' nude swimming on Wednesdays and Saturdays and judging by the numbers that used to take part, most parents were surprisingly unconcerned about the idea of naked boys and girls playing together at school! I'm pretty sure we didn't need our parents permission to swim nude when it was the 'just boys' or 'just girls' swimming lessons, and while it was never compulsory, everyone was strongly encouraged to take part in nude swimming. https://www.facebook.com/groups/445297598902917/

Comments by greywolf on 8th December 2013  ju0884@aol.com 

Scotslad, Gary, Michael and others.
I noticed your comments.
For sure everyday underpants were not allowed for sports because of the hygiene factor. We were all encouraged to wear our swimming trunks for support, especially when we first got selected for the rugby team. A Litesome jock strap was usually the preserve of cricketers or older boys.
Of course we only had one pair of trunks or one jock so these often remained at school during the week as they might be needed several days running. This made a bit of a nonsense of the thoughts about hygiene!

Comments by Gary on 7th December 2013  

I'm thinking back, Scotslad. I think we were told on our first day that we couldn't wear any of our uniform for sport and that included socks and pants. The reason was to avoid sweating in them and having to put them on again afterwards so it made sense. Certainly the games master used to come through the changing room and keep an eye on us changing but I don't remember anyone not obeying the rule so I don't think there were actual checks. Canings weren't public - you had to line up outside the headmaster's office and then go in individually. He had a gym horse which you bent over. You always had to bare your arse though which would be questionable nowadays but I don't think there was any funny business. It was so you couldn't put any padding down your pants. He did use to stripe us and it stung. I don't know about other schools.

There were a couple of schools outfitters where you bought all uniform and sportswear. The jockstraps were Litesomes - that was the only brand I remember in those days and all the footballers used to wear them so it was a bit of a right of passage to start wearing one. Me and a friend went in to buy a couple when we were 14 and felt like proper men the first time we put them on. My grandsons had never seen one. Times change don't they.

Comments by Martin on 7th December 2013  

I was at Shears Green Primary School in Kent (southern UK) from 1979. Our school was a normal local primary school with just over 400 children from 7 to 11½ years old. PE and country dancing lessons were always mixed but we were only allowed to wear one item of clothing, thin cotton shorts for the boys and knickers for the girls, we ALL had to do the lessons barefoot and topless (even the girls!) although girls who had started to 'develop' could request permission to wear a t-shirt. However the school was MOST famous (infamous?) for it's dinnertime nude swimming lessons in the schools indoor pool, this went on from the late 1960's to the mid 1980's and was girls nude swimming on mondays, boys on fridays and MIXED on wednesdays, I seem to remember there was mixed nude swimming on saturday mornings as well. Normal swimming lessons were done in swimwear, these nude sessions were voluntary and you needed your parents to sign a permission slip, but astonishingly a very large number of kids took part, I always went to the boys nude swimming and MOST of the boys and girls in my class also went on wednesdays to the mixed nude sessions when the pool was crowded with naked 7 to 11 year olds! This would NEVER be allowed today, and frankly sound pretty unbelievable, but it DID happen and we didn't think anything of it and even more amazing was that most parents were quite happy to give us written permission to run around naked at school with other boys and girls! see these facebook or Friends Reunited links. https://www.facebook.com/groups/2232710443/ http://www.friendsreunited.com/shears-green-county-junior-school/Discuss/9b5c582f-4f9b-40f0-9be8-8695265ccc0c

Comments by scotslad on 6th December 2013  

Thanks,Gary for your input. Can I ask, were there ever "underpant checks"? If so, how was this done? We're the canines given in private or in front of gym class? A friend of mine went to school in Newcastle area but the tawse was used in his school. Was it only in a private or boys only school that the cane was used?
We had to buy our Litesome jock straps from the PE dept. Was it same with you. I still remember my first purchase. Thanks.

Comments by Gary on 5th December 2013  

Interesting reminiscences. I was at a boys school in Newcastle on Tyne in the 1960s and we had many of the same rules. For games and PE you couldnt wear the same underwear as you wore under your clothes. Once we were in our teens boys started wearing jockstraps but the younger boys just went commando. Football was often skins vs shirts so the vests came off no matter how cold it was. Showers were compulsory after sport - communal and naked. We had an indoor pool and swimming was always naked although the teachers were men so it wasn't that we were being watched by women. We never thought anything of it even by the time we were 18. Happy days to be honest apart from the bare arsed caning! The boys today seem a lot more concerned about being seen wihout clothes than we ever were.

Comments by Jeremy on 3rd December 2013  

I had no problems about going stripped to the waist for PE but being barefoot was a different matter.

Comments by Yorkie on 2nd December 2013  

Having read the recent comments and as pupil in the 60's I agree that no one seemed bothered those days about the no pants rule and bare tops or School teachers walking through the changing rooms as we were changing. Nowadays a teacher doing that would be answering to the authorities.
I would be interested to know what is De Rigeur these days.
I expect that any exposure of flesh is frowned upon even though I assume that PE or whatever it is called is held separately for boys & girls.

As I say as a pupil of the "old school" system boys only, I think it was better because since Co- Education boys have got softer & are influenced by the girls. Have the boys lost their machoism?

Comments by scotslad on 1st December 2013  

We had a swimming pool at school and if you forgot your Speedos then you were told to do without. I only ever forgot mine once!

Comments by Larry on 1st December 2013  

Anyone experienced nude swimming at school in the UK?

Comments by scotslad on 29th November 2013  

i attended a boy's only secondary school in Scotland from 1965-71. We were only allowed to wear white cotton shorts for pe, no top or underwear. In the early years there were checks made to ensure the rule was applied. I cannot recall anyone being caught as frankly it would have just been stupid to try. We had a swimming pool at the school and in later years were allowed to wear swimming speedos in school colours under our shorts for support. Some boys wore the Litesome jock straps which were popular then.

The normal punishment for any crime was "the belt" ( more properly called the tawse, but always known as the belt). It was used regularly by teachers with, in many cases, significant force.

This may all sound a bit weird from the perspective of 2013 but I can assure you it was just treated as life by us back then and not given much thought.

Comments by Neil on 27th November 2013  

In the 60's/70's I think the vast majority of schools had a “no underpants” rule for PE/cross country/sports.

How strictly this was enforced I don't know, but at my school it just another rule that you didn't break, because of the consequences.

Additionally we always had to strip to the waist, so it would have been obvious you had pants on, because the waist band would have shown above your shorts. Again the majority of schools made boys go shirtless, so this would have applied in a lot of cases.

Comments by Fred on 25th November 2013  

Just come accross this thread and thought I would add my two-penn`rth.
The gymn at my small prep school was little more than a wooden shed with a very splintery floor and practically no equipment at all, Apart from cricket,all games and PE were done in footbal/rugby kit. It was all rather grim, but we just put up with it - there was no use complaining and I am still around today, so it can`t have done us much harm.
I left there in 1967 at age 13 and went to a much larger school and that had a gymn much as we see in the photo above, I think it had been built a year or two before. Although these lads look a bit younger we used identical kit.
A great deal of talk here has been on the matter of chastisement. At prep school, the gymn-shoe was the weapon of choice and this was used very enthusiastically and when I moved on, the cane was still in use, but was gradually on the way out, but not before I had had my share! Quite honestly I don`t remember any of that being a problem, again it was just how it was
Another topic much discussed here along with some horror stories is the matter of underwear or lack of it. At prep school it was nothing at all, I think it was just custom, I don`t remember it as a rule and there were certainly no "inspections". After age 13 or so we soon all acquired a jockstrap,mostly the old Litesome cotton one. it was a kind of rite of passage thing I suppose. Again I don`t think there was a rule as such, it was just custom.

Comments by Simon on 24th November 2013  

In reply to Sam's message,we too were stipped to the waist,wearing only our shorts with nothing underneath.This rule was rigoursly enforced and could lead to embarrassment and consternation,especially wnen our games and gymnastic lessons were shared with the girls.On one such occassion one boy decided to pull my shorts right down much to his amusement.

Comments by Eastender on 23rd November 2013  

I was also at Secondary school in the 1960's. Like you our PE was done stripped to the waist, but were you like us without underwear, and was it an all boys school?

Comments by Sam on 21st November 2013  

In the 1960's at my school we did all our PE stripped to the waist.
When we did cross-country many lads went barefoot as well.

Comments by Tim H on 5th November 2013  

@Adam - No need to apologize! Life is made too complicated now!

Comments by Adam on 4th November 2013  

To Tim H perhaps I should have said "politically correct rather than "left-wing."

Comments by Tim H on 24th October 2013  

Just a few comments - to Adam I agree with pretty much everything you say but would leave out the word 'left-wing'.

To Michael - we weren't a particularly 'sporty' Grammar school and I can't recall jockstraps being required or underwear being prohibited, but by the end of the 1st year it was being suggested by teachers that we wore swimming trunks for 'support' if we wanted.

Back in September, a fine day, chatting to a lady in the gym car park. We commented on the weather allowed us to go to the gym, and home, in lightweight gear. Then we started talking about wearing shorts and about how many men wore them as a natural thing nowadays, followed by a comment as to how the shorts got shorter & shorter as the summer went on! The lady then made, what to me, was a telling comment. She said 'its been nice to see lads playing in the park these fine summer days - just in shorts - so much more natural'.

Comments by Maltamon on 20th October 2013  

I can see that following the negative comments from my last blog that men are often their own worst enemies. This is not a matter of being left wing but supporting gender justice and a right to privacy that we as adults take for granted.

Women feminists have been very effective at getting laws passed that end sex discrimination and promote equal pay. Whereas males tend to "put up & shut up" or even actively support the status quo.

Most of the gender inequality I experienced in pe was at the hands of male pe teachers in secondary school rather than the female teachers in primary school.

Unfortunately, we still have this attitude in Britain that males should be treated like Army recruits for the British empire rather than potential adults with individual needs.

There are still schools in the Uk that mandate showers for boys but forbid them for girls.


Boys' PE Clothing

Ashmole Rugby Shirt (Navy with sky blue side panels)
Ashmole Royal Blue Polo Shirt
Ashmole Navy Games Shorts
Navy Football Socks
Ashmole PE Navy Zipped Fleece Top (Years 10/11 only)
Training shoes (MUST NOT have black soles)
Football boots
Shin pads

Towel (students are expected to shower
after football and rugby)

Plain navy blue tracksuit bottoms (optional)

Girls' PE Clothing

Ashmole Sky Blue Polo Shirt
Ashmole Navy Sweatshirt
Ashmole Navy Games Shorts or Skorts
Navy Football Socks
Ashmole PE Navy Zipped Fleece Top (Years 10/11 only)
Training shoes (MUST NOT have black soles)
Shin Pads
Plain navy blue tracksuit bottoms (optional

Another school is also shown below:


Indoor Kit:

•Plain green (standard school green) polo shirt - the current white shirts are to be phased out.
•Black shorts
•White or no socks
•Indoor clean non-marking trainers

Outdoor Kit:
•Green and black long sleeved shirt - Available from Drury Sports only.
•Black shorts
•Green long socks
•Boots and outdoor trainers

•Towel for showers (boys)

•Navy or black tracksuit bottoms may be worn during winter months for outdoor activities

•A gum shield and shin pads are strongly recommended
Swimming Kit:

•Boys - swimming trunks or shorts (not long) and towel
•Girls - a one piece swim suit/costume and towel
•Goggles can be worn if required

As men I think it is time we organised and rather than support the status quo we should demand the same rules for boys that there are for girls.

If you look at the Police force today all women wear trousers. Increasingly if we made females wear skimpy shorts or skirts there would be outrage in society.

Is it too much to ask for that boys get to choose if they want to do netball & modern dance rather than forced to do rugby?

Do girls not perspire during physical education, fall over and get muddy during hockey, suffer from urinal incontinence and period problems and may need to shower?

Why in this day and age do we allow schools to have different shower policy for boys? Even if you support the idea of compulsory showers, these seperate rules for seperate genders are wrong.

I am sure many of the bloggers on this site would be angered if there employer stated all male workers must shower at work or sit in the office bare-chested but female workers would be exempt. Lets also end skimpy swimwear for boys and allow them to cover up just like the girls.

Comments by michael on 17th October 2013  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I note Adam's reaction to Maltamon's long post.

I do not see that games kit and even the 'games' themselves can ever be entirely unisex. The favourite topic of going bare chested is a point in question.

Away from that familiar road a subject which has sometimes featured on this page is the practice of boys wearing their swimming trunks as underwear. As someone who was at school in the distant 70s I well recall that many of us wore these for comfort during pe, rugby etc and not being allowed to wear them would have seemed extraordinary. I'm sure we would have sneaked them on!

I dont know if there are those out there who agree with my observation.

Comments by Paul on 17th October 2013  

I do hope that Maltamon is a troll, I would hate to think that anyone really believed the nonsense posted. Boys and girls are different beings who have different capabilities and skills and they need different challenges.

The sooner that is believed again the sooner we will be able to restore some sense to our quite mad society.

I played rugby at school and loved it. It was a boys school so I have no idea what girls did but I wouldn't change my school days for anything. I also was caned on a number of occasions and I deserved each and every stroke. I also have many happier memories, they were great years and boys ought to be allowed to have the same now instead of all this femin-socialist nonsense and drivel.

Comments by Adam on 16th October 2013  

Maltamon's comments are typical of the left-wing nonsense which is increasingly common in our modern society.
Why should games etc be "unisex" whatever that means and why should pupils have choice about what games they play at school?
If you are told to do certain games at school then you should have to do them.
That also includes what clothes you wear for PE etc(including boys doing games bare-chested.)

Comments by Maltamon on 15th October 2013  

People often say the cane done them no harm. Thankfully the cane was abolished in state schools in 1986 and in private schools in 1999. Often teachers refused to hit girls for quite serious offences but beat boys for much lesser misdemeanours. If a girl was hit it was usually a light tap. Our headmaster at primary school did not hit girls at all.

Likewise, bare-chested pe is a form of sex discrimination. True boys bodies are less defined at 5-9 years of age. This is also true of girls. At that age they have not developed breasts and are below the criminal age of responsibility for indecent exposure. However, parents would go mad if girls were forced to go topless.

In my view all pe kits should be unisex no matter what the age.

No boy/girl should be forced to pe in underwear and knickers. All schools should have a spare kit policy.

No boy should be forced to do swimming in brief style shorts. All should have the option of swimming in wetsuits or rash vests and long bermuda shorts.

All pupils should either be allowed to wear tracksuits over t-shirts and shorts or have compulsory sports trousers in the school to cover bare-legs to protect modesty and protect from the sun or cold weather.

Both boys and girls should have the same colour pe uniform. There should be no white shorts and T-shirts for boys. Girls would kick up a fuss if you could see their underwear under their sports gear.

There should be no compulsory football boots for boys. If girls doe pe in trainers then so should the boys.

The showering poicy should only be optional or recommended. There should be no compulsory showers or situations where girls have optional showers and boys mandatory showers.

There should also be no compulsory change of underwear or dictation that boys wear swimming trunks under shorts.

Football and rugby should at best be optional for boys if not phased out altogether in schools. All PE subjects should be gender nuetral.

Overall, PE kits must be unisex. Publis sector unions in school are quick to demand the end of sex discrimination against teachers but they are more relaxed about gender bias against male pupils. State sponsored mysandry may have been acceptable in past days when we had male conscription and illiberal divorce laws but in today's post feminist pluralistic society such rules have no place.

Comments by Peter on 15th October 2013  

To Roger G.
Was the boy doing the handstand on the box "imported" from an older class for the photograph? He looks bigger than the other pupils in the photo. To me, that boy on the left of the group of four standing watching seems to me to be thinking "I don't want to have to do that. I thought I was coming to this school to learn Physics and Chemistry and Latin."

Comments by Richard W on 14th October 2013  

Rob, I suspect that if a boy made it clear he was that unhappy about doing PE barechested, his parents would send him to a school where shirts or vests were permitted. But I'd be surprised if many boys of that age were terribly bothered about it. I think it's a different matter when a boy reaches puberty, suddenly he may be more self conscious about having a six pack, whether his chest is more defined than other boys and several other body issues, especially if they do PE in front of girls. So I don't think a barechested uniform should be enforced for teenage boys, but at a younger age I can't really see that it matters.

Comments by Roger G on 14th October 2013  

Remember Mr Parry as am one of the boys(class3m?) in this photo (taken when BGS moved to the 'new'school in Kiddrow lane).We also did cross country races in snowy conditions also lightly clad,it did us no harm in fact toughened us up.Happy days!

Comments by Rob on 8th October 2013  

But if the boys are unhappy with it they probably can't do anything.

Comments by Richard W on 7th October 2013  

Can't really see why this is such a big deal, we're talking about primary school children not teenagers. When I was that age the boys and girls had swimming lessons together, naturally the boys were all barechested while the girls were not. Does it really matter if that's the case in the gym as well? And as John pointed out, if parents are unhappy about their sons having to do classes with their tops off, they can always send them to another school.

Comments by Tim H on 7th October 2013  

Ofsted report from St Michaels, Bamford, Rochdale ...


Comments by John on 7th October 2013  

Hi Rob, lots of things are enforced in school, you ahve to wear a uniform, you have to go to classes etc etc. Why should it be different for boys going barechested in PE? It's a policy that has it reasons (H&S, discipline, gender indetity, ..) as has any other policy. If you're not happy, go to another school that doesn't have has a different PE uniform!

Comments by Rob on 6th October 2013  

John, boys may not need shirts for PE, but it cannot be right to force them to go without one. There is no need for that either.

Comments by Maltamon on 6th October 2013  

I have found the offending school. All other St Michael's schools across the country allo boys to wear t-shirts and shorts but this one in Rochdale:


8. For P.E. boys are expected to wear shorts. Girls should wear knickers and vest (young infants and all Reception children), shorts and white t-shirt or black leotard (older infants and juniors.) Children will do P.E. in pumps or bare feet.

How do they justify this rule. Boys are expected to wear shorts and possibly pumps on their feet but says nothinh about knickers and vest for boys.

Why cant boys wear shorts and t-shirts? If girls can wear black leotards why cant boys wear black leotards with shorts on top like at professional gymnastic academies?

It seems the dead hand of Cyril Smith MP is still alive in working class male Rochdale and we all know what that "liberal MP" done to boys in children homes!

I wonder what the female teachers who often run these primary schools would do if they were forced to turn up to lessons in just a pair of shorts.

They would be going straight to their Trade Unions, go on strike and sue the local authority under the Equalities Act 2010. Well Sex Discrimination laws apply to all services and Education is a service. Equal protection for males and girls doesn't come into force at aged 18, children are covered as well.

Comments by John on 6th October 2013  

If the school rule is that boys do PE barechested that that's the way it is. Stop going on about it as if it was a bad thing. Boys are not girls they do not need a top for PE, let them grow up into healthy men!

Comments by Rob on 5th October 2013  

Look at rule 8 of the the school rules section of the St Michael's Church of England Primary School. They also seem to require boys to do PE without shirts, whereas girls can chose between shorts and shirts or leotards. The youngest wear vest and pants, but boys have to wear less than that all the way up to year 6

Comments by Maltamon on 5th October 2013  

Now is not the time to go wobbly. There are still at least 2 primary schools in the UK that force boys do indoor pe, topless.

These shameful schools are


Clothing for P.E.

Girls - Black leotard

Boys - Black PE shorts

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

Online uniform ordering formation 2012


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.

Larkshill remains a partial victory against state sponsored paedophilia because since 2009 boys have the option of wearing a vest and since 2013 the pe kit is now just "recommended" and not compulsory. Yet the school still thinks it is acceptable that boys aged 5-11 dress less modestly than girls.


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.

This is indefensible on 7 grounds

1 There are no showers in primary schools so barechested boys have to put on their regular school uniform back on their dust covered bodies.

2 A boy with a skin infection on his back could pass it on indirectly through doing forwards rolls bare-top on gym equipment whereas girls are protected by leotards and t-shirts.

3 Under the age of 10 girls are below the age of discretion for criminal responsibility so cant be prosecuted for going topless and at prepuberty age dont need bra's for support or underwear to keep sanitary towels in place.

4 About 99% of primary schools in the uk require boys to wear t-shirts and there have been no freak accidents concerning boys getting their shirts tangled in gym equipment.

5 Girls are often allowed to wear t-shirts in schools and the pe teacher doesnt seem to be concerned about them hanging themselves on the gym equipment.

6 If you look at professional gym classes (ie outside school organisations) boys aged 3-18 often have to wear more clothes than girls.

Ie boys have to wear leotards with shorts on top to cover any bulge for gymnastics whereas girls often just wear leotards.

In ballet girls wear leotards and stockings with no underwear whereas male ballet dancers get to wear tshirts and shorts/tight trousers with optional vests and ballet belts/support underwear.

7 Pe is compulsory therefore boys have no choice but to do sport which is taught at a very basic level in primary schools. These are not adult sportspersons who have freely chosen their discipline and have voluntarily signed up to stringent rules. Therefore pe kits should be modest to placate muslims, radical feminists and shy boys!

Comments by Stuart on 20th September 2013  

I went to boarding school in the 1960s and there was no such thing as privacy. It was a shock on day one but at the end of a week it was normal.

We all slept in open dormitories for twenty of which there were five on each floor along with a further big open washroom that had basins, communal showers and toilets which had no partitions either though once we were about fifteen there were waist high partitions on the toilets but certainly no doors at any time.

Sports kit was white shorts and plimsolls or rugby kit or cricket whites as appropriate. If it wasn't rugby or cricket then be it gym, track, field, cross country or any other game it was white shorts and plimsolls. Like everyone else of my generation, underpants were not allowed either and trying to wear them resulted in a sore bottom.

Ridicule was the cure for shyness. I have to say I got over being shy very easily but I think some lads probably hated it before just accepting it.

Sports masters generally applied the plimsoll vigorously to bare bottoms, other masters used the cane in the privacy of their studies again to bare bottoms.

It was how things were and I've never thought it did me any harm and I liked school and was very happy there.

I do wonder about how boys grow up today. They seem uncertain of their identity and who they are, we didn't have those problems and I think we were better off with the perceived privations and discipline of the time than the boys of today are with their mollycoddling.

Comments by Dave on 16th September 2013  

I remember doing cross-country along the streets near to our school.
All us boys were stripped to the waist and no-one thought anything of it.

Comments by Paul on 12th September 2013  

I went to a boys boarding school where we swam naked. I'm not sure why it was insisted upon but it was just normal and group nudity was not unusual.

We slept in open dormitories, showered in communal showers, took off underpants for sport and showered in (different) communal showers afterwards often having two or three showers a day and to top it all off, we were caned on our bare bottoms.

After a couple of weeks I didn't think anything of being naked with my peers so swimmming certainly didn't bother me.

Comments by Gar on 11th September 2013  

Cornwall, the nearest thing to a difinitive answer to the compulsory naked swimming years read;


"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution."

".......one reason was discipline, and that boys were not expected to be bothered by nudity. "Nude swimming for boys was a no-nonsense, practical, easy, conforming and cohesive, method of handling 30 exuberant boys in one hour." Nudity had a calming affect for even the most boisterous boys."

Still others credit the military. Schools in the 60s were largely administered by the World War II generation, and during the war, there was little respect for male privacy. Many believe they transferred this norm to schools. And even in the early 70s, one man remembers a selective service physical where "long lines of naked guys being inspected for everything from flat feet to eyesight and hearing in a shockingly open environment."

".....Threads Clogged the Drains? Oh, Come On, This is the 60s"

"Although almost non-existent today, institutional male nude swimming in the U.S. got its start at the YMCA in the 1890s. At the time, men wore wooly suits, which shed fibers, clogging the then sensitive water filters. It became traditional and mandatory for men and boys to swim au natural at these facilities, and many believe schools copied the policy of this respected institution.

READ in full;

Comments by Cornwall on 10th September 2013  

I still cannot understand why so many schools especially boys boarding schools insisted on naked swimming. Is there a definitive answer?

Comments by James on 6th September 2013  

I remember my pe and swimming lessons very well. From about age 9 - 15, PE was always in just white pe shorts. No question, that was it. If you didn't have your shorts, you just did it in your underpants.
Swimming was always done naked. For new boys, the walk down from the changing area to the end of the pool before a lesson was always odd as you felt very exposed but once you got used to it it was fine. As a boarder we had to swim naked at weekends as well although the older boys generally wore trunks. We never thought anything of it and in fact enjoyed it. At weekends we were often supervised by a female games teach or a housemistress and this was no problem. Any other female however might have been different.