Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 956,382
Item #: 1607
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

Comment by: William on 25th October 2021 at 19:09

Alan, the typical procedure in the past was for the caretakers to stay inside the school bathrooms or showers, to prevent bullying and to ensure proper hygiene care.

Comment by: Danny C on 25th October 2021 at 16:53

"Distance lends enchantment" so eloquently put by Alan. It does. But as someone who kept a daily diary from the age of twelve and for more than the next twenty five years, covering every single day of my senior school years without missing a day, I can say that a diary removes quite a bit of that enchantment and closes the distance considerably.

Read a brilliant quote once, "A diarist lives life three times, first when they live it, then when they write about it, finally when they read it back". This allows me to bring my own highs and lows back with amazing and real time clarity even many years after my 1980's schooldays.

I wrote a lot about school physical education in mine, on the playing fields, in the gym or in the sports hall, what we did, how it affected me, my inner thoughts on the sports we did, the people who took those lessons and those in class I did the lessons with and all that I intimately shared along with them. I did this for other lessons too in those years but PE was always a stand out and ripe for plenty of comment many weeks when you have three 80 minute classes starting first thing in the morning just a few minutes after 9am.

I recall thinking before I did it that forcing a large group of boys into showers in school while naked and up close with each other was a surefire way for there to be constant teasing and personal comment about how we looked and what we possessed, or lacked. I thought literally every shower was going to be a nightmare of this kind that I would have to endure. How wrong I was, and can still recall walking away from the first few I did and being so very pleasantly surprised and mighty relieved that none of us 12 and 13 year olds were teasing or mocking anyone else in any way at all. I couldn't quite believe it actually. We all just seemed to get our heads down and get on with it, almost subdued and very compliant infact come to think of it in those first few weeks, especially after me and my friend were made an example of for trying to walk out un-showered at our first ever PE lesson. The only couple of things regards me in a school shower I recall are one silly little twit alluding to the fact that I'd sprouted hair down below while most others hadn't yet, and a so called friend merrily calling me out loudly to others for placing both my hands over my groin hiding myself as he saw it while I was letting water soak over me as I stood there. But that was it. Certainly no noticeable open bullying I recall, from fellow pupils at least.

Alan noted about this myth some may have of all boys happily going into school showers. That's not my memory at my school at all in the 80's. You just resigned yourself to doing it if mandated. Even then I'm certain the vast majority would have opted out by choice. Two years ago a family member began his senior school aged 11 which has a changing room communal shower and it was left to personal choice whether to make use of them or not. I asked if he did, he said no. I asked if anyone else did, he said no. So by choice it was 100% avoidance, nowadays at least. Two years later and today in his current new school year he and his class now have to use them whether he likes it or not, a pandemic related school hygiene rule change apparently. I've no idea how much this new mandate might bother him or not.

Comment by: Michael on 25th October 2021 at 13:10

In response to a comment below, I can honestly say that during the 1960s I was never bullied by any other pupil at my state grammar school.

On only one occasion was I made aware of a pupil being a bully. In this instance the miscreant was caned after assembly in front of the whole school and, so far as I know, never made the same mistake again.

Yes, I know there will always be the "answering violence with violence" , controversy, but in the meantime I am convinced that because of the school's firm stance on bullying, everyone was free to concentrate on their studies without this kind of interference.

In contrast, I feel sorry for today's youngsters, with their 'knife culture' almost being considered normal.

Comment by: Alan on 25th October 2021 at 10:39

Greg2: Thanks for that. I glanced at the site last night, and I can well imagine "Linda Jansen" who wrote an especially scabrous essay for us on October 5th, regarding New York in 1974, is an ardent viewer and contributor to the site. You saved me the trouble of responding.

Interestingly, you bought up the subject of circumcision, and something I well remember from the hell in our school changing room and showers was that one lad in our class was bullied on a regular basis for having had that operation - and was taunted with it at least weekly (not the worst or funniest procedure in the world, and nothing to make fun of) our school was never short of bullies, and our teacher always went deaf if he heard it going on (and in some instances - not this one, - joined in with it). I dare say "banter" would be the excuse had anyone had the guts to complain - and face the consequences for so doing.

That is another thing that has been all but ignored in these discussions: distance lends enchantment (so they say), but you get the impression in years past all the lads cheerfully went into the showers, all best mates - no mention has been made of bullying which went on all the time in the sort of school I (and doubtless many others) attended - the changing room and showers were a hot house for bullies - it didn't matter what they could find to torment you with - find it they did. When you were undressed, of course the targets were there for all to easily see. Some of the men who have contributed in the past to this thread must have had an idyllic childhood, where bullies were completely excluded.

Comment by: William on 25th October 2021 at 07:29

Spelvin, don't be foolish, those are sexual fantasies, one of the reasons why swimming was a generally gender segregated activity in the past was nudity, there might be some accidents or jokes played around seeing others naked, but not anything like this.

Comment by: Greg2 on 25th October 2021 at 00:23

I’ve just dipped back into this site expecting to have a nostalgic read about school days’ gym and games lessons. Goodness, what’s been going on here?

I’ll mention just this: the voy.com link you’ve added spelvin, I decided to take a look at. The first bit is all about circumcision, so just the predictable usual ignorant American nonsense. A bit further down it gets much worse. Spelvin, do you really believe that the people who use that site are posting authentic, truthful accounts of genuine experiences? I’ve never read such drivel. It’s so obviously a place for fantasists to concoct their salacious stories of fiction, spiced up with their kinky needs for subservience to domineering females, and then their ensuing life of terrible childhood humiliation... In all honesty, it really needs to be said here and now, just in case anyone reading these links is left wondering, that this stuff is mostly fictitious fantasy nonsense.

It’s a pity really, because if the posters were to give truthful accounts, there might be some interesting reading to be had. But as ever on the interweb, this opportunity is ruined by certain people flooding the posts with their own dreams. Perhaps such sites are intended for such people’s stories, who knows.

Comment by: spelvin on 24th October 2021 at 15:24

Alan, I agree that children should not be exposed and ridiculed. There was no little public nudity in my own upbringing, but I have collected testimonies from men who suffered from forced nudity during their own upbringing. Here are two discussion forums which abound with such memoirs:

https://www.voy.com/206801
https://www.voy.com/223876

One of the contributors, who calls himself Bacon Fanatic, was forced to perform in nude swim when he was a high school student in Canada. He had to tolerate an audience of screaming girl classmates. He was left with psychological problems which left him feeling self-conscious when undressing in front of his own wife.

Every summer, Joe had to swim naked in front of his girl relatives at an outdoor barbecue. That was for only one day a year, but he still wakes up from nightmares in which the girls are jeering at him.

But there is also a flip side. Manuel grew up in a family which taught that God made man in His own image, and that nudity was therefore respectable. In the backyard swimming pool, he swam naked in the presence of his girl relatives and girl neighbors, and none of them ever so much as whispered or giggled. He writes, “To this day, I don’t see why I should be embarrassed or ashamed of my nudity.”

There were also nude swim team members who wandered onto the bleachers and conversed with the spectators when they were not otherwise occupied. Stan conversed with his women teachers. If a girl teammate was also sitting on the bleachers, he might invite her to walk with him into the boys’ locker room and watch him urinate.

There was another swimmer who walked over to the bleachers and conversed with his admiring girlfriend, whom he later married, along with her mother, grandmother, and two sisters. For four years, his girlfriend repeatedly saw him from head to foot. Yet he never saw her until their wedding night.

After reading hundreds of these messages on these two forums, I remain convinced of an ironclad rule: the worst thing that could happen to a boy is appear nude in front of a jeering audience; the best thing that could happen to a boy is to appear nude in front of a respectful audience.

Comment by: Alan on 24th October 2021 at 05:33

Sterling. The sad fact is some people should never have had children, and some men (and women) should not have been allowed to teach. Some people "have children" like some people decide to buy a kitten or a puppy - no questions asked, as to whether they will ill-treat the animal or child. These days we get old biddies in their 60s who want to have children, and a supine legal and medical system allows them to, thereby guaranteeing a free carer a few years down the line. Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean that you SHOULD. That applies to all things in life, home and school.

Yes - some people used the belt on their children - did that stop the boys from joining gangs and indulging in low level criminal damage, or violence?. In a word: no.

If you use violence (how else can it be described?) , don't be too surprised if the boy follows mum or dad's example, and uses it himself. In the same way, if dad uses the belt because his dad used it on him, he is just perpetuating a bad habit, which will go on being repeated down the generations.

If society didn't evolve we would still be press-ganging teenagers to join the navy, or sending their younger brothers up chimneys.

Some people think "the old days" were wonderful, I doubt that people who had to go into the back yard at night to use the lavatory, or wait for a week to have a tin bath in the front room would want to return to those days, any more than those lads who were the victims of a brutal bully of a teacher, or a teacher who "liked" little boys, would want their offspring to endure a regime like that today.

I never understand the mindset of people who went through some very dodgy procedures (forced nudity, physical punishment) who would wish that on their own offspring, or regret it's passing. There is something very wrong with their moral compass if they do.

Comment by: Shaw on 23rd October 2021 at 23:47

What's all the fuss about? Boys stripped to the waist for PE/Games was as common at school. Our timetable had PE/Games scheduled everyday. Football and rugby in skins vs vests, cross country was always run stripped to waist as were fitness sessions or basketball indoors. Teams identified by colour of shorts. No-one ever died.

Comment by: Sterling on 23rd October 2021 at 16:52

Alan, in my school the harsh regime and physical violence I experienced was approved off by the Principal and many parents. That is why it continued. They were different times. Some lads would be getting the belt at home in those days. They couldn't hide the results. So who did we complain to?

Comment by: Alan on 23rd October 2021 at 13:53

I wish we could stop this horrible voyeuristic gawping of naked kids, albeit kids of 79 years ago. Imagine if you were one of those children - would you like the idea that adults were admiring your nudity years later?

Comment by: spelvin on 23rd October 2021 at 07:18

William I am beginning to see what you mean.
This video shows children of both genders in a Norwegian sauna at abougt 9:20{
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWplD3SC-mk

Comment by: Alan on 22nd October 2021 at 09:31

William: I suppose some people might consider c 1979/80 vintage, whether r not they do, this music is on the original soundtrack, not added later to sound humorous, as to whether naked boys of whatever vintage are "wholesome" has to be a matter of personal opinion. I would have said this film was an invasion of the privacy of lads who if they are still around, - and I guess most of them are - are now men in their fifties who might be very unhappy that their nudity 40 years ago is available for the delectation of viewers in the 21st century.

Comment by: William on 21st October 2021 at 20:14

It is interesting that they used such cheerful music when showing the boys naked in showers, I have seen this stylistic choice a lot on vintage recordings with naked boys swimming or bathing, alternatively some kind of choir singing. Perhaps naked boys were considered wholesome?

Comment by: Danny C on 20th October 2021 at 02:53

Claire wrote on 10th October….”That's an awful lot of kids shown for posterity in a state of undress, almost certainly without their, or their parents', permission” in response to photos being published of boys in minimal kit in a gym by a teacher I think it was.

Well I’d like to share the following on here. This is the ITV schools TV programme that first set off my fears and anxieties in a big way regards senior school PE requirements. I watched it in primary school at the age of about 9 or 10 when it first came out. The programme is called Good Health and the title of this episode is Fit & Healthy. I can never forget seeing this in school and the reaction it generated inside me and with some other boys. I couldn’t believe it. You’ve got the barechested boys in the mixed PE class. But near the end they filmed the changing room when bringing up the hygiene issue after sweating, and they filmed everything. The boys at this Redditch School in about 1979/80 are shown stripping fully naked, going into the showers together, washing together under the shower heads and walking out again completely full on exposed. Quite amazing even when I watched it in school. At 9 I never knew such things would ever be expected like that. Getting naked in school. I recall the girls sniggering and looking around at us boys as we watched them, as if to say, look what you’re going to be doing soon. Many of us visibly uncomfortable at what we had just seen. Me and friends discussed it a lot afterwards and it just gave us nothing but anxiety. It all came true of course and we did become those same boys in the programme a year or two later.

I rediscovered this schools programme about a year ago and it brought it all back very strongly to me. But now I look on even more astonished, and this is where I bring Claire and her comment about permission and consent back, because how on earth even back in around 1979/80 was a film crew ever allowed to go into a school and film such directly intrusive naked schoolboy scenes which were not needed to make the points the programme wished. I’d like to know who actually did consent to it, or not as may be. The school obviously consented in some way, but did all these boys parents individually consent to their sons being filmed naked in the school showers and changing room for TV. Really? What about the boys themselves, did they all consent willingly or not? Was there literally no consent other than the school allowing it with no other input from parents and boys involved? I wonder what they would all think now looking back at that, because these boys were shown on TV for years afterwards to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren and now even find themselves on the internet in a way they could never have imagined 40 years ago. If I was one of these boys it would infuriate me.

Here is the programme link for anyone interested, it says it was transmitted in January 1983 but it definitely went out as early as the start of 1980 confirmed by a schools TV website and was therefore probably made in 1979. The truly contentious part is 12 minutes into it and it just sums up to me the attitude to boys in school at the time that it was even considered fair game to put TV cameras and the crew directly into not just their changing room but right into the boys communal school showers while they all piled in after PE completely naked with each other. Even a young kid of 9 like me could work out back then that it was eyebrow raising. I refuse to believe most of those in the programme were okay or indifferent to it.

https://youtu.be/NRRw-k7cGJs

There is actually someone called Matt Bicknell who commented underneath another Good Health show called Look After Yourself who states that he was one of the boys who took part in the Fit & Healthy episode in 1979/80 and is presumably one of those boys we see on screen at some point. How interesting would it be to hear his views.

I’m sure contributors here will have their own views too and share them.

Comment by: Alan on 19th October 2021 at 20:46

Sterling, The point is, a lot of the apologists for "old school" - literally methods - claim that PE teaching, was that boys were being "toughened up' for possible military service. This excuse became defunct in the early 1960s. The last bunch of conscripts were inducted in 1960 and discharged by 1962/63, so in the years beyond 1963, this tough militaristic treatment was quite unnecessary - it begs the question as to why it was allowed to go on into nearly the 21st century. Anybody who feels conscription might return one day, must know that the country wouldn't have the money to expand the military (the reverse is more likely). so that is yet another excuse exposed.

Comment by: Sterling on 19th October 2021 at 16:52

Alan, my PE experience was considered normal at the time. Many schools had similar regimes. The teachers where just part of the regime

Comment by: Alan on 18th October 2021 at 04:02

Sterling, That is so very true, and, as we learned last week, that soe of these questionable practices went on into the 1990s and possibly the early 2000s, I would like to think it was not too late for action to be taken against the perpetrators, some of whom advertised their proclivities.

I am not one for financial compensation, but just for them to have the shame and humiliation (which they so readily inflicted on others) of being named in open court, might go some way in exposing some of them, and at least making other adults examine and question their behaviour

Comment by: Sterling on 17th October 2021 at 18:01

As I've said before, they couldn't subject prisoners to the treatment we received.

Comment by: Alan on 17th October 2021 at 08:21

These are different days, thank God Stirling, and I am just glad more consideration is shown to boys these days. Perhaps some of the juvenile deliquency we saw in the past, was due, in part, to treating lads as if they were in prison and just numbers rather than an individual personality, with their own problems and hang-ups.

Things not considered then, for example, was that a lad might be, for example, homosexual, and felt ill at ease in a changing room or shower with other naked lads - we can be fairly sure that some PE teachers had, at least, latent homosexual tendencies, so why not the boys he was teaching?.

As regards your teachers problems (and I am sure many of those masters who enjoyed meeting out punishments with canes and slippers had them by the shedload) well sorry, but they should have worked out their problems in other ways, not literally take it out on those smaller than themselves and subservient to them. Bullying is never an excuse - bad behaviour is bad behaviour, no excuses. It is sad some lads, even in later life were prepared to sublimate themselves, and seek, even now, to excuse it. If these "men" behaved themselves in the same way today, there is little doubt that they would be dismissed, and in some cases, prosecuted.

Comment by: Sterling on 16th October 2021 at 20:42

As a lad in the 60s and 70s you never expected privacy, or your modesty to be considered.
You just got on with it.
The only one comfortable was our PE teacher. Our discomfort was the last control mechanism an old soldier, and incompetent teacher, had in his sad life.

Comment by: Alan on 12th October 2021 at 15:37

Spelvin, I have no problems with anybody who wants, of their own volition to take their clothes off, but what I object to is kids, especially, who are not comfortable practically naked, being forced into that position by dictatorial adults.

I think generally speaking from early childhood, most kids are by nature modest - the girl will want to wear the sort of clothes her favourite girl band wears, boys ditto with boy bands, or the latest fashions. Few would want to be naked, unless it was suggested to them by adults, such as those who ran schools wear nude swimming &c was not only allowed but encouraged.

In my opinion everyone should be entitled to wear what they are comfortable with, and not forced into a position that causes them distress

Comment by: spelvin on 12th October 2021 at 08:12

I am having second thoughts about my earlier post. Maybe Tom Pike’s subjects and Charles Du Bois Hodges’ subjects were getting the recognition which they needed.
The French writer Andre Gide was brought up in a puritanical household, where he was taught to struggle against all temptation. He developed an abnormal interest in boys and later saw the connection. He commented, “I would not have been so thirsty if I had not at first been refused to drink.” (Baskin 1968)
Gide is not alone. Goldstein (1973) asked a sample of pedophiles and a sample of control subjects how often they were exposed to nudity and sexual activity during their adolescent years. It was the pedophile subjects whose upbringing was prim and proper.
Among the Trobriand Island society of Papua New Guinea, a little boy and a little girl may be allowed to go into the bushes, set up a makeshift dwelling, and play husband and wife for a few days. This practice does not get the least bit of disapproval from the adults. There, adult sexual interest in children is unknown (Malinowski [1927] 1949): 55-57).
The converse also applies. Among the aborigines of Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of Argentina, boys and girls are segregated and watched very carefully (Cooper 1946). Girls are later betrothed with adult males (Deniker & Hyades 1891: 171). A mere coincidence? Probably not.
I recognize the noble motives those who insist on covering children up. I realize that they wish to prevent sexual abuse. But couldn’t the proper solution be the exact opposite course?
It would be interesting to look up alumni from Shears Green Primary School from the 50’s to the 80’s and attended their co-ed nude swims, or from Summerhill School, where nudity was permitted any time any day, and see how many of them have been convicted of any sex crimes. Betcha none of them have.
Baskin, W. 1968. [footnote]. In Gide, A. (Baskin, W., trans.) [1891] 1968. The notebooks of Andre Walter. New York: Philosophical Library: 90.

Cooper, J. M. 1946. The Ona. In Steward, J. H., ed. Handbook of South American Indians, vol. 1: The marginal tribes. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 143, Vol. 1: 1950125. Cited in Janssen 2002.

Deniker, J. & Hyades, P. 1891. Mission Scientifique du Cap Horn, 1882-1883, vol. 7. Paris: Gauthier-Villars et fils. Cited in Janssen 2002.
Goldstein, M. J. 1973. Exposure to erotic stimuli and sexual deviance. Journal of Social Issues 29, 3: 197-219.
Janssen, D. F. 2002. Growing up sexually. Volume I: World Reference Atlas. Interim report. Amsterdam.
http://www.sexarchive.info/GESUND/ARCHIV/GUS/SOUTHAMERICAOLD.HTM#_Contents_of_Section

Malinowski, B. [1927] 1949. Sex and repression in savage society. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Comment by: Alan on 11th October 2021 at 18:29

"John Smith" wrote: "I have no knowledge of this person and I was only alerted to the posts on this site by a colleague."

It begs the question, "Me. Smith" why it has disturbed you so much, regarding a person you say you don't know him. If you don't know him you can hardly know what his motives were, as neither can this mysterious "colleague" of yours who was equally upset.

Had I been the person who took those photographs, and saw fit to publish them on a public website, I would have considered how it might be viewed by other people who might see them, including, ot course, the subjects themselves. They might be worried, or indeed angry that that their young selves had been used in such a manner, as might their families, as I doubt they were told they would be published back in 1991. I, too, will say no more about it, but your intervention seems rather strange, given you don't know the person concerned.

Comment by: John Smith on 11th October 2021 at 16:58

I’m not issuing threats at all. I’m merely pointing out how unwise it is to accuse people of voyeurism etc without realising that it’s just possible that the person you’re referring to may take this further to protect his reputation. I’ve had a look at the site and it appears that he was a headteacher.
I’ve looked at some of the earlier posts made on this thread and many of them are libellous - although many of the people referred to are dead. In this case the subject is very much alive.
You are being extremely brave in writing such claims down in print. Others have mentioned Thomas Hamilton in the same posts.
I have no knowledge of this person and I was only alerted to the posts on this site by a colleague.
I’d suggest that yourself, and others, and the owner and caretaker of History World be careful and check carefully on what you’ve written. You may have to prove the veracity of these claims I court.
I shall say no more.

Comment by: Bran on 11th October 2021 at 16:53

I will apologise to Mr Pike if you feel able to vouch so strongly for his character. If you have read all my submissions to this site you will know I personally felt very humiliated when an adult I barely knew forced me to strip for no better reason than he had the power to do so. The boys in Mr Pike's class may be junior school kids rather than middle school but our ages were the same so I feel confident in assuming some would have much rather been allowed a vest if Mr Pike had been willing to offer the choice, especially as the girls share the class and we're naturally allow shirts. In the photo's all the boys are stripped to the waist, there was clearly no choice. That is the background to my feelings on the matter.

As for taking pictures I stand by my feeling that this was inappropriate because he did it for himself not as a school project or at least that is the impression his site gives. It is probably also inappropriate these days to publish such photo's to the web.

I hope Mr Pike comes onto the site for a serious discussion about past attitudes to PE and not in anger. He could make an important contribution to the discussion which takes place here.

Comment by: Alan on 11th October 2021 at 16:11

"John Smith" If that is your real name. Perhaps you feel by issuing threats of this nature you are quashing debate. I think one of the questions this photographer would have to answer was WHY he was taking photographs for his own personal archive during working hours. He also taught mathematics. Why not photograph the children there?. Why make the boys pose in nothing but shorts when, by that time, most schools would have been wearing rather more clothing in their lessons and did he get the permission of the parents, not only to take the photographs, but to publish the material on a public website.

As the law stands today, if you were to take, for example, photographs in Trafalgar Square and there was a child in the view, in street clothing, you would have to get the permission of the parent or guardian BEFORE taking the photograph (you will notice in street scenes in newspapers, if any children are photographed, their faces are pixilated, to save such permission being needed). That is not the case with these photographs appearing on a website in 2021.

I have reasons for taking a very dim view of this sort of practice, but that is no concern of yours, but please stop the stupid threats.

Comment by: Alan on 11th October 2021 at 16:03

Bran I think the late date of this behaviour worries me more than anything. To think it went on into the 2000s is horrific,

You can see the psychology thugh start them off very young with this "minimum kit" lark and they will accept it as "normal" when they get to secondary school. I would have hoped that teenage lads by that time would have been more rebellious, but if they were indoctrinated from day one to suggest that was a standard procedure they are less likely to question it. Our P.E teacher became more "interested" the older you got, but I will say no more about that here. All I can say is that if I had been head teacher, or even a colleague, I would seriously have challenged why he was taking photographs of near naked boys. I would have hated to be one of that class of 1990, even thirty years on, to know that photographs of me from that time were floating about. Thank goodness my Mr X never got addicted to a Polaroid camera!

Comment by: John Smith on 11th October 2021 at 14:44

Some unwise comments being made on here by Alan/Mr Dando or Maltaman etc…
I hope you are prepared to back up (in court) your allegations/suggestions about Tom Pike. I’ve sent him a link to these comments. I would advise him to see a solicitor to look at possible legal action again the people above (I’m confident they can be traced) and also against the owner of this site. Unless you’re Elon Musk defending yourselves against muking such slurs will be very difficult and ruinously expensive.

Comment by: Bran on 11th October 2021 at 12:08

Alan, my first thought when seeing the photo's and the date was this could easily have been me if our teacher liked photography. Then my second thought after reading about his running of Boys Clubs + the photo's made Thomas Hamilton immediately come to mind. That's probably going too far I know and we know this guy would have some stock excuses for the shorts only rule.

we have always done it that way
we saw no need for tops for the boys
there was never any complaint
the boys could work more "freely"
it was school policy

But these are all very weak arguments. What it does show is just how easy it was for someone potentially dangerous to get into PE teaching in the 80's. Become a scout leader---->run a sports team---->spend a year in teacher training school---->get a job in a junior school specializing in PE---->enjoy lots of opportunity to boss around, discipline and photograph bare chested young boys. It is kind of scary isn't it.

As for my middle school I would be pretty certain the practice went on into the 2000's. A busy road ran along the playing field and I would occasionally find myself driving along it during school time during the summer term and very clearly for all to see the young middle school boys would be doing athletics stripped to the waist. There would be cars parked alongside the school fence, anyone could have just parked up and enjoyed the view. If the same practices I experienced were happening in games then they were probably happening in PE too.