Fulwood Counry Secondary School
Item #: 1608
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1958
I stumbled across this page today and it bought me back to my teens where I left school in 1984, I've often thought of what went on back then and in some ways think school back then was really harsh.
I've read a lot of input on here and realise that my school wasn't the only one to put people through what I went through, Now back then I was a bit of a rogue as I was always in some form of trouble or sagging as we called it back then, Don't know what its called to date but anyway. I often saw girls in PE in gym knickers and t-shirts doing outdoor games or cross contry,If indoors in the gym for example sometimes barefoot which I never did understand why, I admit though nobody ever really dared to ask or challenge a Teacher back then as to why either. It was even expected to do PE barefoot in the gym in the Winter and the floor was absolutely freezing as well, I found it humiliating to have to remove your shoes and socks for example because they decided to do sports on the Mats but the rest of the floor whilst you waited your turn was baltic.
Anyway in regards to other input on here, I went to a school in Liverpool which I won't name at this time but to me it was a time you feared the Teacher, Myself I had the cane 4 times in total over my 5 years but accept it was my own fault looking back at it now but better that than expulsion. I was caned onece for bunking off and being caught outside the chippy at 12.05 when the Teacher could only just get their that quick in his car, Then 3 times for fighting, Twice was just normal stuff but the third was an odd one, Back then if you forgot your kit well as a boy in my case you were sent to the girls games Teacher who supplied you a girls one from lost property and then made to join the girls class, The kit was always a Maroon gym skirt and powder blue T-Shirt, Your own underwear was kept but on some occasions you were given socks and Plimsols if she saw fit to do so. So in my situation I'd been bunking school in my 5th year for Months and was only caught due to an education officer turning up at the house and all murder broke loose, I was put on a report were I had to get signatures off every Teacher and had completely forgot my PE kit on day one of my return, I was sent to the head who gave me my timetable and just after lunch was Games which was like doublt PE at the time. Anyway I approached the games Teacher at the time who didn't want to know and took off on me sending me to see The girls Teacher to loan some kit, Now over the years I'd seen about 6 people in total in gym skirts but didn't expect to end up being one of them. The shame back then was you had to borrow the kit then wait outside the girls changing rooms until you were given the go ahead it was all clear then you were sent in to change, Once ready you were to join the girls class wherever it may be, On my occasion it was netball in the gym so I was fortunate not to have to go outside, It was always a walk of shame between the changing rooms and then the entering of the gym where the girls all took their laughing ssession onboard, After the initial few minutes you simply got on with it and the novelty in some cases wore off, At the end of the lesson you had to wait outside the changing rooms until everyone had cleared before being allowed back in to change. It was outside when I had to wait to go in to change that I got into further trouble as one of the lads ran past pulling my skirt up and I ended up in a squabble only to be sent to the Head again which resulted in another caning as I was already bordering expulsion, This time the Head rolled the skirt I was wearing into my waistline which made me wonder if thats how all girls were caned back then.
Anyway thats my input from the 80's school days in which I think was quite draconian in some ways.
Hi Andrea, the sex ed lesson I had in primary school was in a mixed class, yes. The video went through a few topics - eg it’s OK for boys to like boys, or girls to like girls, plus the basics of periods, body changes for boys and girls during puberty etc.
I remember the girls having the period talk the week before, when we "escaped" our PE lesson and got to the classroom door there was a table at the front with various sanitary products, plus things like spare knickers on it. I think we had a vague idea this was "girl stuff", but the sex ed video the week after explained it all and it all sort of 'clicked' as to why some girls used the ladies' staffroom occasionally.
I know a lot of schools now have schemes where girls can collect free sanitary protection if they need it. Everything seems to be discussed far more openly now and I think that's a good thing.
Hi Sarah, my school was similar. The gym storeroom did have a door on the other side of it, which led to the sports centre.
I remember my cousin saying only a couple of girls in her class wore leotards for gymnastics, as they were in the gymnastics club. It was polo shirt and gym knickers for everyone else. Similarly if they played netball or hockey the teachers would give them coloured bibs and only one team would be allowed to wear their gym skirts.
If the topic of conversation ever got on to school everything was fine until PE came up. All the rules around the kit rather put her off school sports and it was something she mentioned several times.
Was the sex ed lesson done in a mixed class, or separately for the boys and girls? When my son's class had it, it was done in a mixed class, which I think is better.
It's possible that the girls had a separate talk about periods. I seem to remember my sister telling me about my niece bringing home a booklet and a couple of free samples donated by on the the SanPro companies.
Thankfully the whole subject of menstruation is much less of a taboo topic than it used to be. My mum's generation treated it as a dirty secret called it "the curse" and definitely not to be discussed within male earshot, if at all. I remember her being mortified when the first tampon adverts appeared on TV and rather disapproving when sanitary protection was displayed on supermarket shelves.
Yes I suppose it must have been a control thing.
Like you I didn't need a bra when I started secondary school, but some of my classmates certainly did and would have been embarrassed and uncomfortable doing PE without one.
So, "Mr Dando", I saw you all over the news on Saturday night, giving "them" a 5th September never to be forgot. How did you manage to make such an impact, and get so many thousands of people out on the streets of Westminster? It was awesome!
Andrea - I don't think we were given any reason at the time of our first lesson (though it was a long time ago!), nor can I remember beig told why later. I suspect it was a control thing, to put us young girls in our place and remind of of the hierarchy of the school. I don't know if anyone's parents complained, though when I told my mother after that first lesson, her response was along the lines of "great, that's less laundry for me, then!". From our second year onwards we wore leotards for indoor PE lessons.
Hi Adam - I was at a mixed school but PE was done in single-sex groups. We were in the gym when the boys were outside, and vice versa. Our changing room lead into a corridor the into the gym, with no other rooms off it, so there was no chance of us being seen. When I say we did it in our pants, I mean our normal underwear, not bigger, thicker gym knickers.
Our teachers sounded like your cousin's - minimal kit even when we were older in the gym (just a leotard) and outdoors we had white t-shirts and gym knickers, with skirts worn only for hockey and netball.
Hi Andrea, we had a special 'bonus' PE lesson with the headteacher one day. He went to take a phone call so we sneaked out and went back to the classroom to see the girls getting the 'period talk' through the classroom doors. Of course we were spotted by a parent helper and shooed away!
The sex ed lesson came a week after that, and the video we were shown was fairly 'age appropriate'. Of course we now realised what the girls were being told about the week before! The teacher did pause it early on when we all got rather giggly, naturally we were all a little embarrassed but once we'd got that out of the way everything was fine.
Hi Sarah, were you at a mixed school or all girls one? Your experience partly matches that of a cousin of mine. She started at an all girls secondary school and had far more kit for PE than the girls at my school did. She did say most of it was effectively useless as her PE teachers did their best to keep the girls in the 'usual' kit of polo shirt, gym skirt and PE knickers!
A few people have commented on girls doing PE topless into their early teens. I was at school in the 1990s and we had mixed lessons so there was nothing like that. I am genuinely curious about why the teachers would insist on that, I must say!
When you say you did gym and dance in your pants, do you mean your 'normal' knickers, or did you have PE knickers or similar?
You are right with your later comment. The girls in my school didn't much like their PE knickers but most of them got on with it. They later organised a sensible campaign that led to them being allowed to wear shorts.
Did your teacher give any reason why she insisted that you did PE topless?
I'm surprised that there weren't complaints, especially from parents of the girls who started develop.
Were you allowed to wear PE tops from your second year onwards?
By way of contrast, our PE teacher sometimes advised girls to start wearing a bra when she observed too much movement under their PE shirts.
Thinking back, we didn't have any sex education lessons until secondary school. I don't recollect any of my classmates starting their periods whilst at primary, although they probably wouldn't have talked about it if they did.
Hi Andrea, I agree, second year seems an odd 'cut off' for changing uniform. It's usually fourth and fifth years who have a different tie, or shirt / blouse colour these days.
Some of my PE kit was bought with 'room to grow' - I got a little taller but did not fill out much so the rugby shirt I had in first year was still fine in fifth year. I needed new stuff like trousers, shorts and shoes / trainers every so often, yeah. Aside from the 'upper school' tie for fourth and fifth year, us lads didn't have the sort of major uniform changes like the girls did.
I was going to mention the girls might have needed to change sanitary protection by the last 2 years of primary school, but figured you'd know that already! We went from having a basic sex ed talk early in the last year of primary school to the last week of school where all the girls realised it was their last chance to wear the summer dress to school haha.
Mr. Dando seems to have a fascination for copying and pasting school uniform lists, as evidenced by his many previous submissions to various threads on this site.
This is not only potentially a breach of the various schools' copyright, but tiresome to those of us who contribute genuine memories to this "History" World web site.
School uniforms of the present day are in no sense part of history, so I do wish Mr. Dando would take his strange fixation elsewhere.
"Mr Dando", yes, we were made to go topless, yes it was 1993, and in fact it continued beyond that point too. Did we like it? Maybe not. Did it harm us? No.
As for your obsession with PE kits and showers, you are a very strange "man". You won't be doing anything on 5th September except prowling the internet reading school PE kit lists. Why the moderators of this site continue to let you pollute it with your dribble is beyond me.
It is disgusting to think that some schools forced pupils to be topless in 1993 despite the passing of the Children Act in 1989 which put the welfare of the child as paramount.
There are still some schools which force pupils to shower and take towels to school. Here is one such institution.
GIRLS’ P.E. KIT Compulsory (Year 7 & 8
Purchased from Maisies
Navy and Green polo shirt (with school badge)
Navy and green shorts (with school badge)
Compulsory (Year 9-11) White polo shirt (with school badge)
Navy shorts (with school badge)
Not Compulsory Girls Navy Runners leggings (With Ousedale Print)
Tracksuit top/bottoms (with school badge)
White base layer (with school badge)
Quarter zip top in school colours (with school badge) – for
Compulsory Trainers (not plimsolls or converse) and shin pads are
required and are part of their protective equipment.
(Football boots are optional for girls but there will be times
when lessons may be on the field)
? Students should bring a towel and a bag for dirty footwear.
But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me on 5 September 2020 night 2 metres apart, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of September that shall never, ever be forgot.
It is time we ended state sanctioned child abuse and use the Corona Virus opportunity to ban all communal changing rooms, compulsory school uniforms and contact sports in UK educational institutions.
This is a great site and I hope people might be interested in my experiences back in the 1990s. I started at my local grammar school in 1993, and back then it was still very traditional, we even had berets to wear outside! We had a detailed PE kit and we all brought full kit to our first PE lesson. Our PE teacher met us in the gym changing room, asked us if we had our kit, then told us all we didn't need it and wouldn't need it for indoor lessons all year. We were told to undress in silence then wait by out pegs. Some girls had bras on, some had vests or crops and a few, including me, didn't have anything. Miss L**** reappeared and very sternly ordered all the girls in tops of any kind to remove them, and for us to follw her into the gym. That was how we learned that we'd do all our indoor lessons wearing just our pants, whether it was gymnastics, dance or anything else!
Hi Louise, it does seem cruel to make boys do outdoor games bare chested in the middle of winter. As you say in a warm gym or outdoors in summer is a different matter, although nowadays perhaps schools are reluctant to allow it outdoors because of the fear of skin cancer.
Adam, when I started at secondary school, most of our mums had bought our uniform a bit on the large size so there would be "room for us to grow". For the first two years we had to wear 'gymslip style dresses rather than skirts and by the end of the second year some were definitely above knee length. Although this was against the rules, mums were reluctant to buy new ones when we would be changing to skirts at the start of the third year. Looking back, it seems daft to have a different uniform for the first two years.
Of course it not only the girls who have growth spurts, my son outgrew two sizes of school trousers one year!
With regard to the girls who were allowed to use the ladies loos, it may well have been because they wanted to change in private, but there may be another reason. Nowadays it's not that uncommon for some girls to have started their periods before they leave primary school, so it may be that they used the staff loos because they had disposal bins for pads (sorry if that's a bit TMI).
With regard to crop tops, they weren't around when I was growing up so we went straight from vests to bras. Vests seem to have gone out of favour nowadays, but a lot of girls seem to want to start wearing crop tops in the last few years at primary, even if they haven't started to develop.
Hi Andrea it was horrible but worse for the boys. As much as I enjoyed seeing them without vests, each outdoor PE/Games lesson must have been an endurance test in the winter. As soon as the boys were outdoors on the yard you would see at least half a class stripping their vests off to begin the lesson regardless if it were rain, frost or snow. The gym was different, it was always warm and cosy so it made sense (well to me anyway) for the boys to exercise barechested. In many ways we go from one extreme to the other. My 2 (10&13) did kickboxing before lockdown, which I don't mind until they fight. When they do fight though all boys, even the younger ones, do so barechested and there's no objection from anyone. They've trained in the garage without a t-shirt and can't wait to get back to competing.
Hi Andrea. I remember there were 2 or 3 girls who were taller than almost everyone in the year, even in the first year of high school. They were probably close to 5 foot 8 at a guess and maybe grew an inch or two taller by Year 11. They had grown to be quite 'curvy' by second or third year too. I remember most of them being quite 'leggy' too and they were always stuck with uniform skirts that weren't quite knee-length or gym skirts that were shorter than everyone else's.
I can remember there were maybe 2 or 3 girls who were allowed to use the ladies' staff toilets in the last 2 years of primary school. I am not sure if that was because they wanted to change on their own for PE as they were wearing crop tops or even bras by then though.
Hi Louise. I must say that all sounds rather nasty, honestly. I'm surprised you had to take your blouse off for a slippering - was it a case of 'skirt off' too?
As Andrea and Mary have said - it all sounds like it was done to humiliate you as well as punish you. Ditto running laps in a gym skirt and bra. I still think it would have been 'better' to make everyone do it in t-shirt and underpants / knickers, at least that way you could have worn a longer shirt to cover your bum!
I only ever received hand spankings so I'll take your word on the pain of a slippering!
Hi Adam, there was a local boys school, but we didn't have any mixed activities until 6th form.
Interesting that you remember some of the girls growing taller. We had one or two like that but that didn't always correspond with development in other areas. Of the girls who started to wear bras at primary (and hence were allowed to change separately from the rest of the class), one was really tall, one was quite short and a couple were somewhere in the middle. I was reasonably tall and quite skinny when I left primary and then grew a bit taller during the first few months at secondary, before starting to fill out in the latter half of the school year.
Louise, it sounds like punishments at your school were designed to humiliate as well as being physical. I can't think of any other reason for making you remove your shirt before a slippering, or for running laps of the field either.
You didn't want to go to the Heads office. It really depended on the mood of the Deputy Head for us. Going down to your bra for laps was far more preferable to being beaten by.the Deputy Head. She expected our blouses be removed in the office before the beating began. I twice experienced the slipper, on my 13th birthday and again when I was 15, trust me it wasn't pleasant It was common to see boys of all ages lined up with no vests, only shorts waiting their turn. while the rest of the school headed for assembly.
Hi Andrea, I think my primary school always managed to schedule PE so it was between morning break and lunch, or lunch and the afternoon break. I know we always changed separately so the boys spent 5 minutes changing first, then we swapped over and the girls changed.
The teacher did lose track of time once and we all had to get changed in the classroom together after the lesson. I remember everyone was a little embarrassed at this, we all just got changed as quickly as possible. The girl who sat opposite me on my table put her school skirt back on over her shorts, yeah.
Boys and girls often played some games like Tag or "What's the time, Mr Wolf?" together, then as we got older the boys would just take over a lot of the yard playing football.
It's probably natural to become a bit shy in your early teens, yeah. I suppose in some ways the more we saw each other in PE the more we got used to it. The more 'developing' girls stood out to me in the first few years of high school because they were usually taller than most of the other girls.
Did your school not have a "brother school" like a nearby boys' school for things like dances?
I think you're right about the reasons for the boys skirt protests.
I don't recall anyone wearing shorts under our skirts at primary school, but we did become adept at putting our shorts on first before removing our skirts when we were changing for PE.
Boys and girls changed together in the same classroom all through primary. Was this the same for you too?
Unlike Louise, I can't recall anyone having to do PE in just bra and pants if they forgot their kit. We had to borrow a shirt from the lost property box (always grubby) and borrow a classmate's soggy towel after they had used it.
On balance I think you're right that mixed sex groups help to build confidence. At primary I was always a bit of a tomboy and enjoyed joining in with the boys games, both at school and at weekends etc. However, once I had started at an all girls secondary, I seemed to drift apart from the boys. It was probably partly because we were at separate schools. I suppose it may have happened anyway as puberty started to take effect. When I left primary school in my shorts or jeans and T shirt and short hair I looked very similar to the boys but by the time it came to the summer holidays after the first year at secondary it was becoming self-conscious about my developing figure.
Hi Louise - I assume a visit "to the Head" would have meant a slippering or similar then?
I preferred wearing a top in PE, but then doing it topless was a punishment for us. If the rules had been different and said that gymnastics should be done topless, then at least it would have been the same for all boys so I'd have been OK with that.
I don't know what my school did for lost property, but outside of gymnastics, I never saw any girl being made to take part in anything without wearing both a top and gym skirt, and later shorts.
Hi Andrea - during the last heatwave my old school allowed pupils to wear their PE kit all day. I think the media seem to have missed the point that the 'boys in skirts' are only using a simple loophole in the school rules for one day, because they can't wear shorts in the summer!
I don't remember the girls at my primary school tucking their skirts in to do handstands. Of course wearing shorts under their skirts was also an option.
We were often sat boy / girl in other subjects, so I didn't really think PE or Games should have been that different. Given the choice we tended to pair up with members of the same sex anyway, but at times we were in little mixed groups and it probably helped everyone's confidence too.
As far as I can remember, the only after-school clubs were for team sports, so football / rugby for the boys and netball / hockey for the girls. Dance didn't seem to feature in lessons or after-school clubs, and I don't think there was a gym club either.
You're right - 'larger' is probably a more appropriate word to use here. I think girls in some of the years below us may have been able to 'celebrate' the end of the leotard, but girls in my year wore them for the 5 years we were at school. Other than gymnastics, I know my late friend was a lot happier when she could wear shorts in PE and Games.
Branded underwear and having it showing also makes no sense to me. I guess people like to show off that they've bought one pair of pants for thirty quid or something!
Hi Adam, We all enjoyed watching the boys remove their vests but nobody ever dared wolf whistle. A trip to the Head would have followed at the very least. Once you'd overcame your embarrassment, would you have preferred to have spent more time exercising bare chested? O think you'd have got on just fineAndrea rightly pointed out that sports bras simply didn't exist when I was at school. For us if we'd forgotten tops we'd wear bras in the gym and were given a top from lost property if outdoors. You knew afterwards why it "lost" property!
I agree that girls should have the choice to wear trousers or skirts and that boys and girls should be allowed to wear shorts in hot weather. I suppose that the schools stipulate trousers for girls have either had problems with skirts being worn too short or have done overboard on the gender neutrality of their uniform.
We couldn't wear trousers at primary school either, but used to get over the handstand issue by tucking the bottom of our skirts into our knickers first, so we didn't show too much!
I agree with you about ties, I don't think I've worn one since leaving school and as time goes on, less and less men seem to be doing so either.
I sounds like you enjoyed your mixed PE lessons.
We never wore leotards at school and when my son was at secondary school it was only the girls who did GCSE dance or were in the gym club who wore them. I would imagine that some of the 'larger' girls would have been glad when they were no longer required at your school!
Of course when I was at school, there were no sports bras, so we just wore our ordinary bras for PE.
With regard to the boys (and men too), it surprises me many of them have the tops of their underwear showing above the waistband of their shorts!
Hi Louise - I only had to do PE topless once, probably in Year 9. A few of us lads had brought the 'wrong' top when we switched to doing gymnastics in PE for the autumn and winter terms.
We all had the same sort of 'summer' and 'winter' tops. The girls gymnastics kit was a leotard and footless tights - instead of their usual top, gym skirt and knickers. Obviously my school thought us lads had to have a 'different' kit too. The vest was worn with our usual shorts.
I was a little embarrassed at first but got on with it. We had been warned that bringing the wrong top would mean doing the lesson topless and I admit I occasionally needed that sort of 'kick up the backside' at times. A few girls got a bit giggly and wolf-whistled us but it was probably their chance to get their own back on us being equally daft about their gym skirts and knickers at times!
By 1996 the lads' gym vests, along with the girls' leotards and PE knickers were all quietly removed from the uniform list.
Hi Andrea - At one point deodorant sprays were banned and we had to bring roll-on ones in instead. I remember there were always stories in the news about girls not being allowed to wear trousers to school. It was never an issue at either of my schools. In the last few years of primary school it was also an easy solution for the more gymnastic girls who still wanted to do handstands and things at break without showing their underwear.
In some ways I'm quite pragmatic now, yeah teenage girls are going to try and wear their school skirts as short as possible but just banning them feels like a step too far. I'd have a choice of skirts or trousers, and if we're having heatwaves a lot now maybe we should have a 'shorts for all' policy in the summer too. It would save another year of "boys wear skirts to school" headlines! Girls wearing ties is another thing that strikes me as odd - I don't know any women who've had to wear one since leaving school.
Mixed PE felt like an extension of primary school really. My eyesight meant I was also in the bottom set for Games which was otherwise single gender. That suited me as I wasn't football-obsessed like most boys and we did a right mix of stuff - basketball, indoor hockey, volleyball, badminton etc. We even played netball a few times when the girls' half of the class won the endless 'basketball or netball?' discussions. Of course us lads just tried to play it like basketball and were told off by the teacher. The girls got very stroppy with us for not knowing the rules, too.
I remember the taller and, er, 'fatter' girls had gymnastics leotards which were always a bit lower cut. In terms of bras you'd occasionally see a girl's white bra strap poking out from under the sort of shoulder strap on her leotard, so I guess they just wore their 'normal' bras in PE. If any underwear has to be specified now, sports bras would make sense, and well done to that teacher for mentioning it in the changing rooms too.
Oh, and for all I've said about the occasional flashes of girls' knickers… I can remember having a few girls gleefully telling me what colour underpants I was wearing in PE because our football shorts had a habit of gaping open at times if we sat awkwardly. With hindsight it all feels rather 'innocent' now in some ways.
Hi Adam, I grew used to it and from around 13/14 didn't really care muchdoing laps in skirt and bra, I just wanted it over. Depending which other boys you were sent out with, it could be a nightmare with remarks about my chest (or lack of) being common.
We were both aware of boys watching us and o guess would have been the same for then. Due to the school policy they were out in all weathers mainly stripped to the waist or for half a class, vests if they were lucky. I thought it brutal in the winter especially on a freezing cold morning/afternoon seeing them exercise in only shorts and trainers.
But in fairness it was very difficult not to see boys go topless. The majority of classrooms overlooked the school yard and playing field. You could pick any day and the chances of seeing boys strip off on the tarmac yard or playing field were high. The gym had huge reinforced windows all the way down the corridor.and depending on where you needed to be was very easy to take a look and watch for a couple of minutes, it was for me a highlight to walk down the corridor past the gym and often see boys topless, with sweat visible on their upper bodies, no vests were ever worn in the gym. In the summer we played a few games of rounders but their were no other mixed sessions. I'd love to know your thoughts about doing PE/Games stripped to the waist in front of girls and how you got on.