Burnley Grammar School

Childhood - Schools


Year: 1959         Item #: 1607         Views: 713,563         Comments: 2,605

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

2605 user comment(s) below:-

Comments by Guy on 28th December 2012  

I will never forget the first time I had to be bare chested for PE. I was 14 and up to then I'd always done PE in a vest and shorts, as did every boy in the class. At the start of the new school year in September we had a new teacher for PE but nobody thought anything of that, we just turned up and got changed into our usual kit. The teacher arrived and, after introducing himself, informed us that we were all incorrectly dressed for his gym lesson. From now on our kit was to be white shorts (and socks and trainers). There were a few puzzled looks and one boy actually asked 'what do we wear on top, sir?', to be told 'Nothing. No tops - take them off' and at that point the penny dropped. I remember my heart pounding with nervousness and hoping that I'd somehow misunderstood. But one by one boys began to strip off their vests and move out to the gym and I reluctantly realised I had to do the same. Some boys didn't seem that bothered, mainly the ones who were already displaying signs of defined pectorals and six-pack stomachs. Meanwhile I felt as if I was totally naked, standing in the gym with my chest bare - it was a new experience and one I wasn't comfortable with.
Like Chris, I tried crossing my arms so that they covered my nipples. That was fine while we were lined up in the gym but of course I couldn't run like that so eventually I had to give up and put my arms down. I just imagined that everyone else was looking at my chest, although I'm sure some of the other boys were just as nervous and uncomfortable as I was.
Later I learned from a friend in another class that they'd had PE in their usual kit; it was only my teacher who made boys strip to the waist. We were still allowed vests for outdoor PE, but never in the gym - that was how it stayed all year and it took a while before I got used to it.

Comments by ROY on 27th December 2012  

I knew that I would have to be stripped to the waist for PEas soon as my parents received the uniform list for Grammar School(in 1959.)
On my first PE lesson all us boys just stripped to the waist and went into the gym without any problems.
Nobody tried to hide their nipples(or belly buttons) and within a few days we all accepted that we did PE bare-chested without any worries.

Comments by Chris on 27th December 2012  

Hey everyone let's share the experience after finding out you have to be bare chested for P.E lessons in the 1st lesson. Was it terrifying? Was it embarrassing? Did you try your best to cover your nipples? (like I did) In the 1st lesson I tried my best to cover my nipples because I was embarrassed... Upon finding out, the demented P.E teacher forced me to lift my arms up and ordered one of my classmates to cover them for me! I felt soooo weird! The nxt lesson I never tried something like that again.

Comments by Eastender on 26th December 2012  

Sorry my typing went awry in my last comment. To make sense, he middle phrase should read:

(remember, these were youngsters) but boys always kept their shorts on and did not take part in pe in their pants.

The remainder of my comments are then as written

Comments by Eastender on 23rd December 2012  

In response to comments by Nick. I was at a Junior Scholl up to 1961. Pe for boys was norn=mal grey shorts but we wore our vest. Girls did pe in their underwear. Very rarely during a hot summer boys might remove their vest & even sometimes the girls (remeber these were young sters) would be bare top but boys always kept it being unfair for the girls . Equality was not a concern. However, I do remember that one very hot summers day I took of my blazer. The headmistress was horrified because I was wearing Braces on my trousers. She made me put my jacket back on saying men/boys did not show their braces. But then as I have written above girls were in underwear for p.e. Definately a different era then. But who worried?

Comments by Nick on 20th December 2012  

Max. Music and Movement was broadcast on the radio by the BBC schools service. Schools usually recorded it - the programme was played back to us in the school hall via a loadspeaker mounted in a huge wooden panel. We had Music and Movement in the junior years at primary school. The girls wore knickers an vests and the boy had to strip down to grey school shorts. I think we were all barefoot. I remember some of the boys asking if they could wear vests as the girls did - the response was that they could but the shorts would have to come off so they were wearing just pants. What a strange and distant world! But one thing I will always be grateful for is that I was introdued to Prokofiev's Lieutenant Kije through M&M in Juniors 3 (quite elightened when you think about it!).

Comments by Archie on 20th December 2012  

Responding to Tony's question:
How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?"

Tony - it was more than 30 years ago that I was first shirtless in a PE class, so the memory of my feelings is a bit hazy. I don't understand why any of us should have been ashamed at being shirtless, given that most if not all of us would have been swimming at some point in our lives prior to the age of 9 when we started at the school! I really don't see the fuss with lads having to strip to the waist.

Comments by Simon on 20th December 2012  

We only wore minimum clothing for all our physical activities,which were often shared with the girls.We only wore a vest for cross country runs,just brief,satin shorts were considered adequate.

Comments by Max on 19th December 2012  

Nick, your memory's clearly better than mine! You're right, now I think about it the class was called Music and Movement. Did you have the same thing at your school and was it also boys and girls in the class together?

Comments by Tony on 19th December 2012  

How does it feel to be shirtless? aren't you ashamed the fact that other boys will see your chest & nipples? How was your 1st lesson shirtless?

Comments by Archie on 18th December 2012  

They probably saw the dancing as a PE activity - no idea why else we'd have to get changed. No matter what we were doing in PE we had to get changed - even one day I remember having to strip down to shorts in order to sort through applications for tickets for sports day afternoon teas! If you were sitting out the class for any reason, such as illness, you stil had to get changed and sit at the side.

Bizarrely the only time I remember Having clothes on in the gym was one day in about fourth year when we were taught how to put someone in the recovery position and give mouth to mouth (on a dummy). We were told simply to take off our shoes and leave them outside the gym and just to go in in our stocking soles, which caused some anxiety amongst those of us who were wearing non- regulation white socks as they were so obvious to the PE teacher taking the class

For outside games - rugby, athletics, cricket etc - we wore the appropriate kit. For outside PE lessons we wore the same as indoor PE but were (again bizarrely) sometimes permitted to wear our school jumpers back to front. I never really understood that! That wasn't universal and as we were older we got to wear an athletics vest, though again if the weather was good we'd probably be made to go shirtless. The school was in a residential area (though wi playing fields out front) and we sometimes had to do road running around the nearby streets - sometimes but not always shirtless

Comments by Jon on 17th December 2012  

Archie,thank you for the answering.

What did you wear for outdoor lessons?

"The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit."

I've never heard about boys having to be shirtless for dancing practice.I think it was rare as well as swimming nude.

Comments by Nick on 16th December 2012  

Max. Could it have been Music and Movement?

Comments by Archie on 14th December 2012  

Answering Jon's questions:

"what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?"

I remember when we started at the school at the age of about 9 when we were told that we were to be shirtless and have no underwear on for PE - our parents presumably knew we were going to be shirtless as only shorts were specified on the kit list. It was a bit strange the first couple of times as we weren't used to being naked in front of each other, but as others have testified it is something you soon get used to. By the time we starting swimming lessons we were pretty comfortable stripping off for gym - and the showers afterwards - so the idea of being bare in front of each other wasn't quite so bad. It was still strange to start with, but I got used to it quite quickly and it stayed that way until I left school just before my 18th birthday.

"Was there any reason given for kit rules?"

Just the usual - hygiene, not wanting us to wear sweaty underpants for the rest of the day etc. For swimming in the buff there wasn't ever really an explanation - it's just how boys swam at school.

"Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?"

This happened only rarely, such as when a teacher wasn't available to have two separate classes. The only organised joint sessions were when we were taught country dancing together in advance of school dances, which would be a couple of times a year. The girls for some reason did that wearing their gym tunics (basically skirts with a sort of dungaree style top half that they wore as school uniform on days they had gym), but we boys still had to strip down to our PE kit. Presumably this was due to the teachers not thinking too much about the inequality, but no reason was ever given.

Comments by Michael on 13th December 2012  michaelabbey@rocketmail.com 

I was interested to read your comments.
We were not allowed pants either under our white PE shorts, or under rugby kit. Later we were encouraged to wear Speedo type swim trunks for comfort and those who were in the various teams usually did. Any boy who was obviously lacking support underwear was given some 'advice' by the sports teacher.
Later again some lads wore a jockstrap although they were a minority.
At that time I do not remember being stripped to the waist for any of our sports lessons but corporal punishment was meted out.
I've included my email if anyone wants to comment apart from on the forum.

Comments by Max on 13th December 2012  

Charles B's post reminded me of my own junior school days (late 70s/early 80s) when we did a class that was kind of a cross between gymnastics, dance and a bit of drama too - I forget exactly what it was called but it was girls and boys together. Girls could wear a leotard or t-shirt and shorts, for boys it was just shorts and bare chest. Everyone went barefoot and it was quite warm in the hall so that wasn't a problem. You could wear any colour shorts you liked so a lot of boys opted for red as they supported Liverpool. Those who wanted could also wear the same shorts for swimming, which was once a week at a local pool and also mixed. That was how it stayed until the age of 12 when we moved on to senior school and had more 'traditional' PE lessons, with a proper uniform and boys and girls separate.

Comments by Jon on 13th December 2012  

Archie, what was the boys' reaction for having to be shirtless for PE and naked for swimming lessons?
Was there any reason given for kit rules?
Was there any PE lesson where you shared the hall with girls?

Comments by Archie on 10th December 2012  

At my independent school in the early to mid 80s, we had gym wearing fairly skimpy black shorts, no underwear, bare chested and white plimsolls. Later on when we were seniors we were allowed to wear jockstraps or speedos under the shorts, but lads regularly got caught wearing underpants instead. We must have been one of the last UK schools that still had swimming in the buff as well. Corporal punishment was still used regularly in the form of the tawse and, in PE, the slipper (really a gymshoe).

Comments by Howard on 9th December 2012  

I'd rather see boys in short shorts than girls in short shorts.By what is happening all around these days,whatever the girls are wearing would make whatever that's described here of what the boys have to wear as very mild and un-ludicrous.Mine is a hot country and boys are still wearing knee length shorts n berms despite the girls wearing short tight to a horrific extent,often even torn,now thats true ludicrosity.If u looked at K pop girls u'd see truly absurd shorts.And no,the cold weather doesnt stop them.My may be a hot country,but im aware in both asian n american countries during winter some girls still wear their absurd hotpants,abeit maybe with stockings,but thats still absurd,as compared to a sensible winter pants for winter.If u look at japanime,u'd see girls in so-called bloomers,which are no different from colored briefs,doing PE in them.In comparison,satin shorts would be very mundane n covered.
Hence i strongly encourage boys,who still have their tight short shorts with them,to continue wearing them,maybe not in winter,but definitely in summer.It's our right and freedom to stay cool,and we either use it or lose it.Don't let short shorts get labelled as feminine clothing,cos that would really be ludicrous.Many people are getting misled,especially ignoramuses in asia,who follow weird trends blindly without understanding how it came about,and forgetting a true image of a lady isnt in short shorts;short shorts are supposed to be masculine and should remain as such.

Comments by Richard I on 6th December 2012  

Boarding school on the freezing fylde coast was my fate in the seventies. Naked bathing would have meant instant death in our outside pool so even school normally sadistic games teachers didnt insist upon that!Once you joined Big School and puberty descended, litesome jockstraps were standard underwear for all games. We all bought our straps from the school shop so embarrasing shopping trip with your mother was avoided!

Comments by Charles B on 4th December 2012  

At the primary school I went to in the 70's (up to the age if 9), boys went bare top. It wasn't unusual for some of the girls to do the same. They weren't forced to, but weren't made to put their t-shirts back on either. From what I remember, it was always the same ones and all very innocent. Teachers were all female.

Comments by Simon on 28th November 2012  

I too remember those shiny,satin shorts of the late seventies and early eighties.They came in various colours,but had a similar style with side slits as previously mentioned.These shorts were worn without underwear and they were ludicrously brief and tight fitting.They were worn for a variety of sports including gym,which on some occasions we shared with the girls.One cross country running event which was held in the cold winter of 1981,I was asked to hold the finishing tape for two hours wearing nothing more than shorts and vest.Teachers complained of the bitter cold,when wearing long coats,scarves,hats and gloves.

Comments by Eastender on 22nd November 2012  

Following on from Andy's comments, we were supposed to wear tight white shorts (nylon) and they were really quite see through. however, we had some rebels who wore shorts with splits & I remember one lad who purposely made the splits larger & nothing was left to the imagination. Following suitable punishment he never wore them again. As Andy says in an all boys enviroment & our was a boys only school no one worried about what showed.

I still think that lads for all their so called machoism are very inhibited witnessed by trhe long shorts worn br proffesional footballers.

Comments by Andy on 20th November 2012  

I remember those satin shorts - I had a pair of Adidas ones. We were not allowed to wear branded kit at school and so they were automatically banned. I remember one lad putting a pair on for gym one day and they really did leave nothing to the imagination not in may ways that it mattered in a class of boys.

He was ordered to remove them, the plimsol was applied to his bottom and he was ordered to find a pair of suitable shorts from the spares box. The comment from the PE teacher went something like 'just because you are a knob lad doesn't mean we want to see yours hanging down your shorts'.

Laughs all round, one red faced and red bottomed lad duly reprimanded!

Comments by James on 17th November 2012  

We wore satin shorts for all sports,which were extremely flimsy with side slits.They offered very little protection from the cold weather and the brevity of these shorts left very little to the imagination.

Comments by Tom on 17th November 2012  

As we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the severe winter of 1962/63 I well remember having to do outdoor PE stripped to the waist in the ice snow and freezing fog.It was no point in complaining.
I also remember a few months later being bare-chested for games in the middle of a mini heatwave.

Comments by Dave Stewart on 16th November 2012  mcwilliam@armymail.mod.uk 

In reply to Nicks question i was 15 at the time

Comments by Steve on 15th November 2012  

I remember in the cold winter of 1962/63 having to do outdoor PE and games while stripped to the waist.

Comments by Nick K on 6th November 2012  

Dave. How old were you when this happened?

Comments by Dave Stewart on 5th November 2012  

I went to a school where for PE and Football it was white nylon shorts and either a white vest for PT or a blue shirt for football. All were very thin and offered little protection. At the time the norm was for no underwear under the shorts and most PE went topless also. At the begining of secondary school we had the no underwaer rule enforce by changing practices! After a couple of years though it seemed it was not being enforced. It was one frosty morning for football and I kept my white pants on under my shorts for football as it was so cold. Even though my pants were white you could see them through the material and the other lad was even less dicsrete as he wore blue pants.
Today was the wrong day for it and another lad and myself got picked out before we had even started to a game.
It turns out that our teacher had been turned down for promotion the day before and we two seemed to be an excuse.
The teacher made the rest of team huddle up against a wall whilst we both had to explain why were wearing pants.
I think my excuse of saying it was cold did not help either.
We were both ordered to take our footbal shirts off which we did and we stood there arms folded teeth chattering and the breath in front of mouths.
We got the lecture about hygenie etc as the rest of the team sniggered and shuffled around trying to get warm.
He then told us to take our shorts off and our pants and put our pants on our heads and run round the perimeter of the pitch and put our pants on the goal posts and then run back. The last one back would get an extra 5 strokes for being last.
We bent down to pick our shorts up and were told no we could have our shorts back when we had run round the pitch. The rest of the class were laughing there heads off by now.

we both set off bollock naked except for our pants on our heads and socks and football boots. As we got to the other end and dumped our pants at the goal posts we said we would run back and cross the line together so that neither of us could loose.
We ran back freezing cold by now and crossed the line with rest of the class chearing and laughing at us.

The teacher was unimpressed and told us to run round again as we had not put the effort in and one of us was not trying.
We both set off again my skin now blue and everything numb from the cold. I came across the line last.
We both were told we had detention after school for that me to get six wacks and the other lad just one.

we both got our shorts back on quickly and finished the lesson freezing and numb.
It was even worse when we walked back into the changing room and a bit of warmth as every bit of my skin felt it was stinging then.

After school we went for detention and our punishment which was just in our nylon shorts only.

we also had to spend the rest of the week after school each day cleaning the changing rooms in just our shorts.

i never wore pants again under my shorts.

Comments by Simon H on 1st November 2012  

Brings back memories. For a couple of years we had light nylon shorts with an inner cotton liner so no underwear was needed. The kit changed back to quite heavy cotton shorts with no lining, and a horrible seam stitching. Underwear was still prohibited.

Like many contributors, a white vest was listed for outdoor games but never worn. The reason proferred was previous pupils wearing their normal uniform vest, which was also white.

Strange how these were insisted upon in winter under layers of clothing!

The cold got right into ones bones. The master would be well wrapped up with overcoat and hat. Cold Showers also featured alot during my Grammar School Days.

Comments by Joseph on 28th October 2012  

What great memories this picture brings back. I loved school and I loved games and gym even more. Getting out of the classroom for a couple of hours twice a week was a treat that I and I think most boys looked forward to. One class was outside sport, rugby and cross country in the winter, softball, cricket and athletics in the summer. The other was inside and usually a hard gym session just like the one in the picture, rope climbing, the vaulting horse, circuits, press ups and lots more, all aimed at helping us to grow up healthy and strong.

Yes, the PE teachers were strict (but so were all teachers in those days), a size twelve plimsol dealt with any misbehavior very quickly and effectively. Plimsols and shorts were the kit - no underpants, for rugby you got a shirt, socks and boots too but still no underpants, we didn't have cricket whites. Showers were always freezing cold but good and refreshing after hard exercise and we left the sessions feeling fantastic, looking forward to the next one.

Great and very happy days.

Comments by Phil on 21st October 2012  

Of course in the fifties and sixties and into the seventies my mother did not have an automatic washing machine. Clothes were worn for several days before changing and that included vests and underpants. In the current time it's unthinkable that underpants would not be changed at least once a day but just as there was then the cane in school, times have changed. Taking off underpants for PE when there was often copious sweating and dirt if playing rugby made perfect sense. The fact that it was, it would seem a universal practice demonstrates the sense of it.

All these years later, I still sweat in the gym and like most men, I dont' wear underpants now either. Old habits die hard!

Comments by Nick on 21st October 2012  

I was at school in the late 60s / early 70s and like many others we had a no pants rule for games. Like Rob we were told it was for hygene reasons and a complete change of clothes was required. Younger boys wore nothing under the shorts but from about age 13 a Litesome jockstrap was worn.
I remember occasionally doing gym in skins at junior school, but at the senior school we had shirts in house colours so there was no need for skins to distinguish teams.
The reason for not wearing underwear for sport is just as valid today as it was then so I don't see why schools don't keep the same rules.

Comments by Rob on 20th October 2012  

Of course in the immediate post-war years(the forties fifties and early sixties)there was more discipline in the schools and generally in society.If you were told you had to go about at school in particular for games etc while stripped to the waist you just got on with it.In fact after a while most lads rather enjoyed the freedom of going around while bare-chested.

Comments by Eastender on 19th October 2012  

The last person to comment confirms what I wrote a long time ago. Back in the era of the 60's no one seemed concerned about the "no pants rule" that was it & we were told it was for hygiene reasons . I suppose in the modern day it would not be "correct" to ask boys to particiopate in pe without underwear. I have also mentioned previously that our tight pe shorts gave us support. Whereas the modern day trend for wearing boxers if worn under shorts would seem to give no protection or support unless lads are compelled to wear some form of athletic support for protection. About time ladds were encouraged to be manly again.

Comments by Rob on 18th October 2012  

Paul and Ben are absolutely correct. There was nothing remotely strange or suspicious about doing PE in shorts with no underpants and no shirt. It was explained in our very first lesson that the body sweats much more during strenuous exercise and therefore a complete change of clothing was required. That made perfect sense to me, and still does. We had the option of bringing another pair of pants to change into but nobody ever did. It felt a bit odd at first but after a few minutes, I found running around just wearing a pair of shorts with nothing underneath gave me a sense of freedom and was quite exhilerating, and became something I looked forward to every week.

Twenty years on, I was really quite shocked to find out in a chance conversation with my son that he and all his peers wore their PE shorts on top of their pants. How can that be healthy or hygenic?

I, too, am glad I grew up then and not now when some people have been brainwashed into viewing everything - including things they know nothing about or have no experience of - with suspicion and paranoia.

Comments by Jon on 18th October 2012  

If you look at photos and videos about school life you can see that from about the late 1930's early 40's (especially in the UK but in other countries as well) most schools in Europe changed boys PE kit into shorts and no shirts.In the UK it lasted as far as the late 80's-early 90's, in other european countries till about the 70's I think. I wonder how it had become so widespread. A school isn't in connect with every other schools. So was it a federal recomnmendation from a health establishment?

Comments by Ben on 13th October 2012  

Paul's point is correct, yesteryear should not be judged by today's norms. Where would we be if it was - would a judge and hangman be tried for murder? Would a police officer carrying out a judicial birching be tried for assault alongside teachers who quite correctly caned misbehaving schoolboys?

I think life was good growing up in the fifties and sixties. I was never aware of anything that might remotely have constituted abuse unless getting the cane for misbehaviour or being instructed to take off underpants before rolling round on a muddy rugby field was abuse but actually it was common sense. I'd rather have grown up in that age than the current one with all the sensitivities and paranoia.

Comments by MARK on 11th October 2012  

I agree with Paul that what is acceptable in one age may not be at another time.In the fifties the country had just come through a major war and there was still conscription.Boys accepted that you did PE stripped to the waist and just got on with it

Comments by Paul on 10th October 2012  

I don't think that it is possible to judge another age by the norms of the current time. I never had the slightest sense that I was being abused at school whether it was taking my underpants off for PE or getting the cane on my bare bottom.

Comments by Roy on 10th October 2012  

Leo is probably right and it was not confined to boys as witness the revelations about Sir Jimmy Savile and other so-called celebrities.

Comments by Leo - a Survivor on 9th October 2012  

Just read this thread. Naked swimming, no underpants under shorts, no tops, members of staff peaking down the fronts of boys' shorts. Penises shrivelling in the winter cold. Staff 'supervising' queues for the shower.

Don't you think this adds up to something just a little more sinister than training for a 'stiff upper lip'?

It's called paedophilia, which was, and may still be, deeply embedded in the British education system.

Comments by Jon on 7th October 2012  

If you type the word "gymnastics" ,"gym", "physical education"..etc. you can see that on most of the pictures boys are barechested for PE and gym clubs even in the presence of girls.


Comments by Roger on 29th September 2012  

When I srarted at secondary school in the late fifties our official PE uniform was vest and shorts.
We had come from two different primary schools.At one the boys had done PE bare-chested while at the other one the boys wore singlets.
The bare-chested group started to remove their vests for PE and go stripped to the waist and soon afterwards the other lads started to go topless as well and eventually the games master made us all go stripped to the waist both in the gym and on cross-country runs as well.

Comments by Malcolm on 19th September 2012  

I remember Ron Parry!!!! The only person ever to send me off in any Team Sport (I retired from playing Rugby aged 43). Mind you, I did call him a c**t!! (Aged about 15 during a house soccer match Brun vs Ribblesdale)

Comments by IAIN on 19th September 2012  

We also did PE stripped to the waist.We seemed to be divided into three groups-those who enjoyed being bare-chested,those who hated it and the majority who put up with it.
I certainly toughened us up being stripped to the waist outdoors in all weathers.

Comments by Michael on 12th September 2012  

There was a marked contrast in the way our PE master treated his select group of favourites, as opposed to the less adept pupils, including myself.

After experiencing an accident in the gym, which left me winded, fighting for breath and barely conscious, he did nothing except order a group of boys to carry me back into the changing room. This they did - dumping me on the floor and leaving me alone to recover in my own good time.

But, on those occasions when one of his favourites had suffered a mishap, he was most attentive and sympathetic.

He spoke quite civilly to his select group and I never saw him punish any of them physically, but he just barked orders at the less able group and regularly used his gym shoe on us.

It was not a good way to encourage youngsters to enjoy sport - but things were very different in the 1950s and 1960s.

Comments by paul on 10th September 2012  

It was the same, two PE teachers, both different. The other was biased towards the sporty, fit boys. God forbid if there was a fat/useless boy, as would be humiliated in-front of the class. Example on the horse, you were supposed to jump it. He was made to jump it, but ran into the side instead, moving it a little(couldn't jump on the spring-board), with everyone laughing, and repeated it until he got bored.
However the "elite" group would be in the same 'dorm. Normally 8-10 of us ate, trained and slept together. Apart from classes, where we were split.

Comments by Rob on 9th September 2012  

Interesting comments about PE teachers being ex-military or police. We had two teachers - both were very strict but completely different. The younger of the two had always been a teacher and everyone hated him - he was a real bully. The older one was ex-Army, affectionately known as 'Sarge', and was liked and respected by all. Once he'd established the regime for his lessons - the rules about kit, all instructions (orders!!) to be obeyed immediately and without question, etc (and it didn't take long with us newly arrived 11-year-olds to comply!) and everybody knew where they stood with him and that he was not to be messed with, then he relaxed a little bit with us. It didn't matter if you were not one of the real 'sporty' types (unlike the other guy who wasn't interested in you if you weren't in a school team) - you still got praise if he could see you were putting 100% effort in, and would find ways to reassure you and boost your confidence. He seemed to really understand boys our age - you could go and talk to him about anything and he was the one who let those of us who liked the rough stuff play Killerball and have wrestling tournaments at the end of term - the perfect PE teacher as far as I was concerned.