Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 772,002
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: Adam on 24th July 2020 at 15:12

Josh H, I think the trunks vs shorts thing at the beach is more of a UK 'thing', yeah. Personally I prefer shorts, but we didn't have swimming lessons past primary school, either.

With regards to girls or women's swimwear - as far as I know girls still have to wear one piece swimsuits for school swimming lessons. In terms of the bikini 'argument' I've always thought of it in this way: a bikini is designed to be seen by lots of people on the beach, by contrast underwear is more of an intimate thing and usually limited to being seen by a woman's boyfriend or husband.

I think the situation is entirely the opposite for girls though - decades of enforced 'exposure' in the form of gym skirts and PE knickers has led to their normal PE kit being leggings and sweatshirts in most schools now.

Comment by: Adam on 24th July 2020 at 14:58

Tom B, oh yes, the reversible kit. I think we reversed the rugby shirts once in Year 7, and didn't reverse our gymnastics vests at all in 5 years!

I found an old prospectus a while back and it looks like the vests were quietly removed from the kit list by about 1996 or so.

Comment by: Josh H on 22nd July 2020 at 10:37

Having read the comments by Spelvin, I have given a lot of thought before posting my comments.
I agree that it may be that some people have felt that they have had nudity or minimal clothing forced upon them and so now want to protect the youngsters of today..
Also I can understand the other view. Repression or perhaps, forced modesty has lead to rebellion and wanting to feel more "free" to wear less. In my school (all boys) 1961 to 1966 we wore minimal pe kit. We all changed in one room and thought nothing of it. Rarely did a teacher come in, only if we were larking around.
That is all in the past. What I find nowadays is that on a beach in the hot weather many ladies wear minimal clothing and that seems to be acceptable. Whereas the majority of men wear long shorts or board shorts.If a fellow decides to wear something shorter or dare I say it swim trunks(colloquially known as Speedos) it seems unacceptable. this Although when I have been abroad the local men have no such problem with wearing trunks on the beach and in the sea and it is acceptable.

Comment by: Tom B on 22nd July 2020 at 07:42

Yes my experience was the same, the PE kit consisted of shorts and a T shirt and for games a reversible rugby shirt was required. I found that uncomfortably heavy to be honest, particularly on a wet day when it just soaked.

I do remember complaining once if been cold and getting told I needed to move more. I was then given laps of the pitch. I do feel that was absolutely the right response from my games teacher.

The branding is certainly a money making exercise and initialling kit prevents parents from passing it down or selling it on to other parents.

Comment by: Adam on 21st July 2020 at 14:17

Tom B, when it came to autumn and winter we just swapped the polo shirt and ankle socks for a long-sleeved rugby shirt and knee socks at my school. Although I was usually in the bottom set 'indoor' group for Games, I don't remember being too cold when we did things like Cross Country round the playing fields.

I agree that for regular PE lessons having the kit be as basic as possible is the way to go, ideally the boys and girls kits would be the same.

If I wanted to be cynical I'd say that branding and initials on kit are an attempt to copy sports like football and rugby, and of course this is now something that the uniform supplier can charge extra for when you buy the kit.

Comment by: spelvin on 21st July 2020 at 03:24

This is just a guess, but I betcha Mr. Dando had nudity forced on him when he was young,
and for that reason wishes to protect boys from forced nudity today.

If my hunch is correct,
I can't criticize him, because I had modesty forced on me when I was young,
and for that reason wish to protect boys from forced modesty today.

Comment by: Tom B on 20th July 2020 at 22:14

Adam, absolutely right.

All kids need in my view is a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, socks, trainers and football boots. Oh and a towel for after a shower.

That’ll do for all sports indoors and out. Tracksuits, baselayers, branding and initials are all totally unnecessary.

As I’ve said before, it’s the content of PE and Sports lessons that should be looked at in detail.

Comment by: Tom B on 20th July 2020 at 22:09

I thought you’d got the hint and gone elsewhere Mr Dando.

Please take your crusade to another forum.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 20th July 2020 at 20:50

Soon will be the school summer holidays and we must use this hiatus to call for an end to all mandatory towel requirements at state run educational institutions. This school still mandates a compulsory towel requirement but I am calling for a full frontal assault on the end of nudity in the school changing room.

Here is the website https://www.eppingstjohnsschool.org/43/standards-and-expectations


Fitted black polo shirt from our uniform provider

PE shorts from our uniform provider

Optional plain black jumper / plain black jogging bottoms

Optional black tracksuit from our uniform provider

Rugby shirt from our uniform provider

Black sports socks

Training shoes (white)

Football boots


Points to Note

• Absolutely NO jewellery is to be worn in PE lessons

• All students are required to wear PE kit during PE lessons - even if injured or unwell, so that they can take on an appropriate role

• Students are encouraged to wear black base layers during cold weather for warmth.

Let us learn from our history and ensure our children have a better future with effective child protection. Young Lives Matter.

Comment by: Adam on 20th July 2020 at 18:07

Tom B, I would agree with all of that. I feel that your last point is increasingly relevant these days.

A younger relative of mine needs around £75 worth of PE kit from my old school's 'official' uniform supplier! Even with the more modern PE kits that girls have now, I doubt she really needs shorts, leggings AND a 'skort'.

All of my PE kit in the 1990s was bought with 'room to grow' and in five years of high school I only needed maybe 2 pairs of trainers, and a replacement polo shirt and pair of shorts when I started Year 10.

By contrast the girls PE kit changed several times in the same five years. Most girls in my year chose to wear shorts instead of the gym skirt and knickers in Year 9 and then they had tracksuit bottoms in Years 10 and 11.

Comment by: Tom B on 13th July 2020 at 16:35

I agree re the obssession with "stripping to the waist". I am far more concerned with the content of PE/PT/Games lessons.

I believe all students should have a minimum standard of regular cardio exercise and strength training which can be competitive but allow students to make progress at their own pace.

On top if this I believe organised sports should be accessible to students who wish to participate. They can be encouraged but shouldn’t be mandatory.

Let those who have a desire to excel at Rugby, Football, Athletics, Boxing, Rowing, Climbing, Wrestling, Fell Running etc choose their path and dedicate their time.

All I will say on the subject of kit is that it should be basic to avoid expense for us parents. A pair of shorts and a plain tech tee or vest is fine for hard physical activity. Branded kit, tracksuits and sports specific kit is rarely necessary.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 13th July 2020 at 10:37

Pete W (and others) I have to repeat what is this obssession with "stripping to the waist"?.

Something else to remember is that "boys" these days some times have to attend school till they are 18 if they can't get a job or an apprenticeship. Most of them don't want to be there, and these days "boys" of 15/16 are more or less adults. It's not like the 1940s/50s/60s when the "schoolboy" left the institution behind early. MEN of 18 are old enough to drive cars, join the services or whatever - they are grown up. What right has some dictatorial teacher the right to instruct men to take their clothes off, if they are uncomfortable doing so?.

If it is a lack of W"uniformity" that s bothers some of you, I have to point out that plain white tee shirts look identical and can be bought for a very low price - why not just say OK we will stick to this rather than a variety of styles and colours?.

Just because we were forced to do things as 13/14 year olds or 15/16 because mentally lads matured later in those days, is no reason to force todays kids into it. Boys of 16/18 these days are really men, and these little squirts of PE teachers are not Brian Glover in Kes however much they might lie to think they are, nor are they still something of minor importance in the army.

Comment by: Pete W on 12th July 2020 at 16:58

Tom B schools should reintroduce stripping to the waist to exercise for a start. PE has turned into a fashion show. Vests have been suggested and are a useful way to have two distinct teams. It's easy to rotate too, every few weeks lads would be back stripped again.

Comment by: Barney on 10th July 2020 at 21:51

There's good and bad in all that happens. I used to be picked on because of my name both by teachers and other lads until one day after school I punched on lad hard in the face after that I never had a problem. At my school the PE teachers were hard but fsir. had a small group of lads they'd pick to remove our vests and go topless. I was one and nearly every PE/Games lesson, indoors or out, I found myself on the skins team. I was always very ordinary loo and not as broad as some of the other regulars. However when it changing our teachers stayed out of the changing room altogether. They'd shout if we took too long for anything. One day I asked why I was constantly on the skins teams and the reply was they could see my PE top was too small for me and my vest would end up the same way. By making me strip to the waist meant others didn't really notice. After we'd turned 11 the school changed it's policy and introduced barechested PE and Games throughout the school for all boys. Teams for football and rugby were skins Vs vests. For me it meant I was one thing less to bother with as we were all the same from that point on.

Comment by: Tom B on 8th July 2020 at 07:59

I think Physical Education, Games and school sports in general need a rethink.

I am very interested in the La Sierra programme developed in the USA in the 60s and 70s. There are detailed videos and articles online.

The programme was based around daily Callisthenics based strength and conditioning for all students. It had an element of competition as students progressed obtaining different coloured shorts as they became fitter and stronger. At the same time it was inclusive as everybody took part and everybody was able to make progress at their own pace.

The scheme ultimately failed and one of the reasons given was a budget cut which stopped the schools providing and laundering towels for post workout showers.

Comment by: Michael on 7th July 2020 at 15:18

Although to my way of thinking it seemed a waste of time, the physical effort I had to make three times weekly for years at school, resulted in a degree of physical fitness. I'm still in reasonable shape today, aged nearly 70.

But, I didn't enjoy the experience. Vivid in my memory are the chilly, dank changing rooms; the lukewarm, cold or freezing showers; the sweaty odours everywhere and worst of all, the always irascible, sometimes violent, instructors.

I'm sure that with a bit of consideration for the less physically adept, and some fundamental re-thinking of the subject, the whole process could have been made much less scary, and, dare I suggest it, even enjoyable.

Comment by: George Spelvin on 6th July 2020 at 22:40

This is in response to Pete’s question, “How does one assess if someone in these jobs and professions enjoys 'looking' to be accepted for such work?”

There are two ways:

One way is by pupillometry. It has been suggested that suspects for sexual abuse should be shown photographs of nude children while having the dilation of their pupils is measured.

Atwood, R. W., & Howell, R. J. 1971. Pupillometric and personality test score differences of female aggressing pedophiliacs and normals. Psychonomic Science 22, 2: 115-116.
Since men’s and women’s eyes aren’t much different, both men and women could be tried that way. I admit that the second way, which is phallometry, might be kinda hard to administer to women. A research team in Toronto has explored the use of phallometry in both diagnosis and treatment of psychosexual disorders. The following is only one of their many studies:

Freund, K,; Chan, S.; & Coulthard, R. Phallometric diagnosis with ‘nonadmitters.’ Behaviour Research and Therapy 17: 451-457.

The authors of the first article suggested the use of their suggestion so that “child molesters can be identified without having to catch them ‘in the act.”’ If a nation ever decides to set up a department of thought police, that would be a good place to start.
There’s no telling how many pupils are going to dilate. Although most men claim to be either gay, pedophile, or straight, just about all of the subjects under the Toronto team has reacted to pictures of people of all ages and both genders.
If Atwood & Howell’s suggestion is ever put to use, we’ll ALL go to jail!

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 6th July 2020 at 21:47

Well, Alan and Pete - if "tradition" excuses everything, perhaps we should send little boys up chimneys again, or reintroduce slavery or hanging people for stealing a sheep - they were "traditions" as well, you know.

Pete have you not read of cases - there was one just a month or so ago, where a GP has been sent to prison for enjoying his work a little too much - on many occassions over a number of years?, by using degrading and humiliating procedures on women which were unnecessary, but merely part of the GPs perversions and fetishes. Males can also be abused, it doesn't just happen togirls and women.

Such men enjoy the power they have over people - their apparent infalability and insistence they know what is right. I suggest many school teachers were exactly the same, and luckily for them they had some very pliant schoolboys to play along wth them. They were not doing their job properly, because they probably turned off more than they turned on.

I am just glad they wouldn't get away with it today, and if they tried it, and got caught they would end up serving a prison sentence. Complaints would be taken much more seriously today than they were back in the "good old days"

As for the faceless politicians that worked their way through the system to higher things, who got their start in grubby local politics and school governers, not only were they out of date, but they probably included in their ranks the likes of the late Cyril Smith M.P. among many others.

I repeat because some of you enjoyed swimming naked and being "checked" for underwear under your shorts - good for you, but you should not just assume that because you liked it, everybody else did. Too many of you seem to make that mistake.

Comment by: Pete on 6th July 2020 at 12:35

Trevor, the argument that some teachers may have enjoyed looking is irrelevant as long as they did their job proper and never abused.
With your same argument we can say that nurses and doctors who enjoy the sight of a naked male or woman should not be in this job even if they do their job proper.
Also, how does one assess if someone in these jobs and professions enjoys 'looking' to be accepted for such work?

The argument of whether it was right or wrong to make boys to swim naked at school is a different matter and several reasons were given for it, including tradition, practicality and other reasons.
As has already been said this policy of making boys swim nude for swim classes was not decided by teachers but by school and local authorities, so you are blaming the wrong people.

I am actually curious to know what were the actual reasons given by these authorities, if any documentation exists about these local authority and school board meetings that took these decisions.
I am sure that this tradition had long been in place in many schools, so the boards just let it continue and not as if they took the decision suddenly themselves.

Comment by: Alan P on 6th July 2020 at 12:30

At my prep school in the 1970’s, we did nude swimming from the age of 8 right through to 13. It was an all boys school and that was it, no discussion and we all just got on with it. When visitors came round, we generally got in the pool but quite often the headmaster would want to speak to one of us. I always preferred it that way and always hated wearing trunks. Luckily, my best friends parents had their own villa in Cyprus and we were encouraged to be naked When we went there. As for teachers, some were a bit over enthusiastic and we did get quite a few who came to watch, mainly the swim team which I was part of. I always felt slightly exposed when on the odd occasion I was the only boy at the swimming club, so it was just me and the teacher. I always remember in my last year so I was 13, a lot of time was spent outside the pool doing stretches etc. I always enjoyed it and my parents never thought twice about it. It was very common and in fact at my public secondary school, we had to swim naked for the first two years and then could choose. Most boys just found it easier to swim naked. That was the way it was then, no dramas and so much easier

Comment by: William on 5th July 2020 at 15:47

Trevor, I had no wish to be antagonistic - just hoped that by offering a different perspective you might appreciate that for some of us communal nudity at school was a positive experience. I was one of the less "manly" boys who benefited from it. I hope you can at least accept that from me as a view honestly expressed. Incidentally, and sadly, I have never pranced or cavorted in my life!

Comment by: Chris G on 5th July 2020 at 09:07

I can confirm William's comment about nude showers before swimming at pools in Iceland, but would add that costumes are then required for swimming.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 5th July 2020 at 05:50

William, with all due respect, it is that sort of complacent and naive attitude that creates problems. I am sure many teachers were as pure as the driven snow, and if female would have been Mary Poppins, BUT the fact remains in those days of more casual employment, many men got into teaching that would never slip through the net now (though even today some do - a bit like those doctors who use their position of authority to molest their patients).

Perhaps many who use this site are naturists but most people are not, and don't have any wish to prance around naked either now, or when as children they might have been forced into it - that they were forced is disgusting, and even if some of you regard more modest boys, then and now, as less "manly" at least today those boys who you might regard as "wimps" have the guts to rebel against this sort of behaviour, and question the motivation behind it, which I am sure was not as pure as you imagine it to be. Even Mr. Parry was described earlier on in this lengthy thread as a "pervert", and another poster suggested he had a nickname which was far from complimentary.

It is a question of what people are comfortable with. Obviously there are those who didn't mind it, or even enjoyed it, but I am sure that for every boy who enjoyed cavorting naked in the swimming pool with the old quack of a school doctor, mentioned a few posts down, there were many more who were scarred by his behaviour. As for the footballers, many of them had no doubt been drinking post match.

It seems to me many of these old time teachers should have had their motives questioned more deeply by both pupils and parents.

Comment by: William on 4th July 2020 at 21:57

Tom B, The idea that non-sexual nudity among men can be a positive experience is supported by the newspaper photos that some of us will remember of professional footballers celebrating in the team bath after a match. The Imperial War Museum has photos of soldiers in both world wars swimming, showering and larking about in their birthday suits as welcome relaxation from the stress of war.
There is much evidence that after centuries of nude swimming men in England only started to wear costumes (once usable costumes became available) when women were present. Against this background nude swimming in boys schools seems much more understandable. The prevailing attitude when I was at school was that nudity was nothing to worry about because you were all boys.
The most natural way to swim is with nothing on, and although this may seem strange to the British, our neighbours in northern Europe think nothing of it, with single sex swimming being preferred in some pools so that people can swim nude. Months ago some contributors to this site told us that this was so in pools, I think, in Berlin and Helsinki. And if you go swimming in Iceland you have to have a supervised nude shower before entering the pool. The people of Iceland take this in their stride.
It does concern me that our proper and intense desire to protect children may have the unintended consequence of making them anxious about exposing their bodies in circumstances they should not worry about.

Comment by: Tom B on 3rd July 2020 at 21:41

I agree with the comments about ‘non sexual nudity’. I do think that being naked with others is a healthy experience.

When I was at school only a few boys showered regularly, most of us avoided it. I was too embarrassed for the most part and regret that now as I looked up to the boys who would shower without a care in the world.

If it had been mandatory I am sure my embarrassment would have disappeared fairly quickly and I’d have just got on with it. I also think it would have brought us all that bit closer together.

Comment by: Josh H on 3rd July 2020 at 09:59

Re the debate on swimming in the nude, this does detract from the original postings about P.E. If it was common place in schools I never experienced it. However, I went to a state school and our swimming lessons were held at a municipal pool.But whatever did happen else where, parents would be aware of that school's rules and in effect it was not as if the parents were unaware. If they had a problem surely they would have raised it. As Pete has made the point in his post 2nd July " parents attended for the nude swimming galas at these schools shows that no one saw anything wrong with this."
I also agree with William's comments about male non sexual nudity. It has always been commonplace in various situations. I do not know if miners in more recent times worked naked, but there are pictures and scenes of miners in communal pit head showers all washing (and in Wales possibly singing at the together) and I agree with him that I to have no difficulty showering after swimming or the gym, unlike some young men today. (it seems especially the younger adults)

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 3rd July 2020 at 03:38

I agree hygiene shouldn't be optional, but the prurient interest in it shown by some teachers is highly questionable. As for the teacher showing no "interest" in the boys, well clearly they wouldn't make it obvious, would they? - even back then when parents and the boys themselves were so innocent, apparently, they would'nt have risked it (though judging by some of the anecdotes on this site, if genuine, alarm bells should have rung in the decrepit institutions. I m sure that there are far more outside checks and box ticking going on in schools today than there was then, and it is interesting that such behaviour isn't considered appropriate these days. I think this "only obeying orders" defence is a very poor one, and for every boy who "accepted" it there were many who dreaded and were terrified of it, but were too scared to admit it or say something about it - the teachers no doubt relied on that and took their silence as acquiecence. Was life better in the good old days? - for the man who abused his position of perceived power, no doubt yes. I am sure many of those long dead teachers would not enjoy life in school today, no longer able to use their canes, straps and slippers and denied entry into the changing rooms, and gawping down (or up) shorts, and managing to instil fear in the name of good old "discipline"

Comment by: William on 2nd July 2020 at 22:48

Trevor, I think Pete has made a fair point. My parents were not stupid. If I had been abused they would have been outraged but I saw nothing like that at my 1960s grammar school, and my gym lessons were no pants, no top and communal showers. The gym master never looked down our shorts because he watched us strip for the showers which he supervised to make sure we behaved ourselves. He never showed the slightest sign of any improper interest in us.
Not wearing our pants was not a quaint custom. It meant that we didn't sweat in them during gym and that they were clean and dry for the rest of the day. That sounds like common sense hygiene to me.
The fact is that non-sexual nudity amongst men and boys was commonplace - in schools, sports teams, the armed forces, even coal mines, and to judge from the comments on this website the vast majority took it in their stride. I'm glad it was compulsory. Given the choice I might have opted out, but I quickly got used to it and to this day I have no difficulty showering after swimming or the gym, unlike some young men today. In my view, hygiene shouldn't be optional.

Comment by: Trevor Cooper on 2nd July 2020 at 19:35

All it "proves" Pete is that parents were way too trusting. There can be no doubt whether the teacers were folliwng the Nuremburg excuse that they were just obeying orders there is little doubt that many of them enjoyed their duties rather too much. I still think it disgusting and distasteful and I cannot believe anybody can seriously condone these practices.

Any teacher "concerned" that boys were wearinng underpants under their shorts coud quickly have disabused themselves of their worries by just seeing the outline of a garment under the shorts which given the thiness of the material would hve been obvious. Please don't less us believe this was just some old quaint harmless custom.

Comment by: Ambrose on 2nd July 2020 at 17:23

Pete, you are quite correct. School rules were what were followed by teaching staff, and in State schools these rules were usually suggested by County Advisors for each subject.

I had experience in my teaching career of County Advisors for two different subjects. These gentlemen would drop in every now and again and check the work being done in the department; they then reported their findings to the Headteacher. Failing to follow County guidelines usually ensured your departmental capitation (finance for the year) was adversely affected. So if you wanted to improve the status of your department, and your chances of promotion, you didn't rock the boat too much.

So far as PE was concerned, several of my colleagues and I when we were training were encouraged to use the showers with the pupils, - usually with the older boys. This practice stopped in the mid 1970's. It was deemed inappropriate for pupils to wear their everyday clothing for PE and games and they were to be encouraged to shower after a lesson when time permitted, - County Advisors guidance.
So far as being present in the changing room while pupils were undressing, this was seen as the best way of maintaining discipline. In all the 6 secondary schools that I attended, trained in or taught at, the staff changing room was within the pupil's changing area. It was obviously designed that way and approved by C.A.s so that the teacher could always be present, since he is , afterall, responsible for the behaviour of the pupils.