Burnley Grammar School
Item #: 1607
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959
Bernard: We have to remember that the criminals on that list are the "unlucky" ones who have been caught - there will be many more that, due to the embarrassment of the victims, have got away with it, others who have bluffed their way out of it, or for which they were given the benefit of the doubt.
We also have to remember that most of these charges relate to the past decade. Prior to, say, 1980, teachers were regarded as sacrosanct, an any pupil making an allegation would automatically not have been believed.
I still maintain that, prior to that time, a great many paedophile teachers, and teachers with a fetish for "strict discipline" got away with things that would today find them faced with criminal charges. Of course, prior to 1967, the teachers concerned would have taken great care not to have acknowledged their proclivities, as they were, in themselves, and by themselves, against the law.
I think, back then and today, you have to question the motives of many of the teachers recalled in this thread, who took an overweening interest in the boys changing room and showers and what little boys wore under their shorts. Recalled in 2021, their behaviour seems voyeuristic and sordid.
Alan - you really are sensitive about "pejorative" remarks and yes, of course political correctness has done a lot of harm in recent years. I mentioned monitoring of showers in response to another comment but I made no mention of voyeurism so that was not according to my views.
I remember our teachers walked through the changing/shower room usually carrying equipment to put away or get out for the next lesson. They did not stop and stare but made it clear they were never far away. Ocassionally a boy might be sent back to the showers if he had not cleaned all the mud off his legs or body. Sometimes we had to be hurried along so that we would not be late for the next lesson but I was never aware of anything untoward about the teacher being present.
I am surprised no-one has commented of the list of child abuse offenders for which you posted the link. It does contain a lot of teachers - hardly surprising as that would be the obvious profession for any-one whose attraction to children was not of a healthy nature. Having said that however, there has only ever been a very small minority of teachers who have abused the children in their care and we must be careful not to tar all teachers with the same brush. I find it even more worrying that the list contains a very large number of people with foreign sounding names.
I still maintain that the current unwillingness to push children outside their comfort zones is not helping children in the long run. I know I run the risk of being attacked for using cliches again but the terms "entitled" and "snowflakes" come to mind.
Hi Rob, I remember going on a long cross country run and arriving back late and if I had changed back into my uniform I would have missed the bus home so I went back home in just my shorts.
Did you wear shorts as a punishment at home or did you like wearing them?
Sam, yes it was very tough and humiliating to do it. You get me remind when I had to run barechested, it was raining and my chest was full of mud, and I was told to continue as I was to do the last part of the lesson. The problem was that my shirt was burned for a joke by a my classmate, and I had to go home as I was
Sam - yes that is late for that sort of behaviour. I never thought the "war-wracked" excuse ever stood up anyway - like Stockholm Syndrome a lot of kids who were subject to the strict discipline (even described as "tough love" by some) seek to make excuses for treatment which, in these more enlightend times, would be seen for the abuse it was, and punished as such.
Hi Alan, this was late 1980s so quite a way after the war! But he wasn't a particularly nice bloke, I have to say.
I don't think I'd have found it such an issue if my whole class had been required to do the same, it was just that feeling of being singled as the only boy doing the whole lesson shirtless.
Rob, forget punishment runs we ran the cross country every fortnight no matter what the weather sunny, rain, hail or snow we ran shirtless and barefoot
Sam: What decade was this is in?. It seems that when the more sadistic teachers were denied the pleasure of the cane, they resorted to demeaning punishments like the one you got.
I can understand how bad it must have made you feel and it makes me think more than ever that across the generations, even when teachers had been recruited from the military and they had the excuse of their war experiences to justify their sadism, that all teachers, but especially PE teachers, ought to have been subject to mental health tests, to weed out some of the more sadistic of their number. They have psychometric tests even for working in call centres and fast food joints these days, yet it seems teachers still escape probing into their mental fitness.
Rob, I had to run shirtless for punishment when I was 14. I made the mistake of answering back to the PE teacher who made me take my football shirt off and stand in front of the class while he lectured me. Then I had to run laps of the pitch stripped to my shorts, although it was cold as well as damp and muddy. It felt humiliating and finally he ordered me to do press ups at the side of the field before rejoining the other boys. I felt relieved, assuming I'd be permitted to put my shirt back on but he told me 'no, you stay as you are for the rest of the lesson'. So I had to play football shirtless and inevitably being the only one I had to put up with some sarcastic remarks from the other boys. Maybe it doesn't sound a big deal to some of you who always did PE shirtless but it was an uncomfortable experience for me at the time.
at my boys secondary school in the 80ies the cane was no longer used. Our PE teacher resorted to using the cord of his whistle. It was indeed frightening when he blew that whistle, called out your surname and ordered you to go to the gym ladder. You had to hold on to it while he whipped your bare back with his extra-long cord. It hurt like hell.
Hi Rob, you must have been very tough to have run in just yours shorts in those conditions.
The cane was always used for miscreants and this was usually endorsed by my parents at home.I was caned at school for wearing satin shorts when I should have been wearing regulation cotton shorts.It wasn't fair as my mother chose them when we went to the school outfitters to purchase my uniform. When in the showers it was a frequent site to see boys with cane marks on their bottoms.
Did you have to wear short trousers for school and if you did up to what age?
Hey guys, what about punishment? I remember in my school was very tough, we had to run shirtless outside in every conditions: rain, snow, wind, even hail. What about you?
The Big Bath Room looks rather spartan, but clean and spacious, and the dormitory looks quite bright and airy, albeit functional, too. i wonder if nude sleeping went with nude swimming?
Wells School - nice photos - Thanks for sharing. I suspect the swimming pool shot is the same date as the other pics (printing at bottom is the same style) and it looks more 1930s period to me.
The pool may be new - look at the (high) fencing around it (to stop prying eyes?).
Interesting side point - Sir Edward Elgar was a teacher there.
But PE wsan't topless, though!
William . Nic one! The postcard looks somewhat dated, and as the school became co-educational in 1974, closing in 1991 or thereabouts, this probably dates from the 1960s or earlier.
Here is swimming at The Wells House prep school in Malvern, Worcestershire.
Michael,the secondary school that I attended had a requirement that boys should wear grey,long or short trousers through out the school years,regardless of their age.
I read the school uniform list with dismay as I knew my parents would require me to wear short trousers for at least the first two years.
At school the majority of boys seemed to wear long trousers regardless of their age and the opportunity for myself to wear long trousers was lost.I think it would have been fairer if there had been'a cut off point' where all boys could have worn long trousers at a certain age.
My early 1960s grammar school uniform list stipulated short trousers for boys all year round, summer and winter, for at least our first two full years.
However, two boys in my class were allowed to wear long trousers for exceptional reasons. One was because he had been in an accident resulting in ugly scarring to one leg, and the other was because his over protective mother had kicked up a fuss about her (delicate?) boy's legs getting cold in winter.
Rather than get involved in a lengthy dispute, and probably thinking the matter not worth the bother, the headteacher had relented.
Just an observation on the style of shorts and how they have changed. We have seen a lot of pictures about 1966 World cup What a difference in the shorts worn then ans now.
Greg 2, we didn't have to wear a shirt for gym and wore minimal kit for games and cross country,but didn't have to go bare foot.
My mother also put me in shorts much shorter than what the other boys wore simply because she liked to keep me in short shorts.
James, I didn’t ‘have’ to wear those shorts, in fact refused to wear them again. I just found them amongst my clothes when away with school. They weren’t obviously different in design to my usual shorts at that time, apart from the material they were made from. They weren’t the famous lederhosen…though we did have a pair of these at home! As these tough shorts never seemed to wear out, these had once belonged to my eldest brother who had worn them in the late 50s in Germany where he was born. They were actually quite beautifully made from a rather stiff brown leather, and with a green piping along the side pockets, leg turn ups, and front buttoned flap part. Originally they had leather T braces, with an engraving of a reindeer in the leather oval that connected the straps, but this bracing had long gone when I once tried them on, and wore them around the house when I was little. I never went out in them! I wouldn’t have minded doing so if people in this country hadn’t thought them so odd...but I think we are going slightly off topic now!
I’ve tried to remember whether we ever had to do gym without a shirt, and don’t think we ever did. We always had to wear all white. We also never had ‘shirts against skins’ during games lessons, as some have mentioned. We did however have coloured bibs to differentiate between teams, and do remember that during boys' selections for various school teams, our sides would be named, ‘possibles against probables!’ During cross country, we could always wear shirts of any colour, and we never did this barefoot. So, quite cosseted really, in comparison to some of the strict regimes mentioned by others.
I believe at the younger ages these days, girls now join the boys on the school football teams. During my time at school, at half-time the girls would bring orange segments onto the pitch which they'd prepared, and hand these to the boys off a white plate! How times have changed!
Greg 2, I'm sure" that children accept anything eventually and conform when all around are doing so and it seems to be the accepted rule".
The similarities between ourselves with both having similar operations a
and daily bed baths and then occasional baths exasperated our situation.
Of course being isolated from school and our contemporaries ,would make it more difficult to adhere to the rules that would have to be adhered to and when everyone was complacent to the idea of communal showers I could appreciate the difficulties that you faced.
Of course that wasn't the only thing that caused embarrassment my mother took great delight in putting me in short trousers for school and home and although I didn't have to wear leather shorts like you did I wore shorts all the time to much to my annoyance.
Bernard: Pejorative remarks like "little darlings" (It's a wonder you didn't employ that favourite cliche' It's political
correctness gone mad) regarding "monitoring" (or voyeurism according to your views), doesn't take away from the fact that there are and were many teachers who took advantage of their situation, as his list shows:
It seriously makes you wonder how many teachers got away with disgusting behaviour in the good old days, before the "little darlings" and their parents complained about it, as was their right.
Frank, Tom - I think it is important for children to be pushed out of their comfort zones as they grow up. They are unlikely to develop as well as they could if this does not happen. There seems to be a fairly common attitude that you "must not make the little darlings do anything they don't want to" and this is not doing our children any good at all.
It is, of course, right that showers should be monitored just as other parts of the lesson are monitored. When we were young there was not the "requirement" to sue teachers or others if an accident happens but a teacher could still have been in trouble if a child was injured when the class was not being properly supervised.
Frank C, As mentioned below, we had mandatory showering when I eventually caught up with secondary school, having missed the start. This would have been 1968, and I think it was quite routine to be expected to shower after gym and games back then. I don’t think experiencing this improved my confidence, rather it was just thought to be yet another thing I had to endure at school that I didn’t like. Childhood seemed to be so full of such things at that time, or so I thought at that age.
I’ve always remembered one moment when I didn’t obey expectations though, and this took place during my last year at junior school. The teacher asked me to come to the front of the class and take my top clothes off, so she could point and describe where various organs and bones were. She always seemed to choose me for things, but I drew the line at coming to the front of the class, getting half undressed, and standing there like that in front of everyone, so I refused! I’ve often been quite pleased with myself that I had sufficient confidence to stand my ground and not give in, and this when I was only 11. She did resort to shouting and almost forcing me to comply I remember, but I just said I didn’t want to, and just stayed quiet after that. I can remember really hoping she didn’t drag me out, which wouldn’t have been beyond any teacher’s behaviour at that time, but thankfully she eventually just gave up and picked on another boy. So, underneath it all, I think I wasn't short on confidence.
I wasn’t really a ‘shy’ boy at school, just quietly, bodily, self-conscious, so just very uncomfortable with having to take my clothes off in front of anyone; I don’t think shyness and self-consciousness necessarily equate. When the time did come for the mandatory showering to kick in, I just literally, ’took my kit off’ thereby making myself have to join the others, as ‘the dreaded moment had arrived’ Anyway, the intimidating gym teacher was nearby, and always ready to pounce!
I do think that had I experienced showering all together, in the altogether, when it was a new and shared experience for everyone, this would certainly have made it much easier. Strangely, I do think having had to endure routine daily hospital bed baths, then occasional baths, given by two teenage student nurses only a few months earlier, probably ‘broke the ice’ as I hated that too. I just became resigned to complying with these difficulties for me in the end. This has often made me wonder: do others think that children just accept anything eventually, and just conform when it seems all around are doing so, and it seems to be the expected rule?
Frank, agreed. In the recent heat, I rediscovered an old pair of PE shorts from the sixties and put them on for fun. Wearing them brought the memories flooding back – the feeling of vulnerability (they were short (10.5 inches), unlined and white) and our tough love PE teacher (a tough, ex-forces PTI, keen on corporal punishment).
Things are very different nowadays, but way back then, most people approved of the approach – certainly my parents did and even most pupils. Some thought him too keen on the belt, but in my opinion he was a professional doing his job the way he thought was right. I believe that he sincerely believed in his approach. It made us fit and the fact that I can get into my old shorts is testament to that.
Frank, I think I would have benefited from being forced out of my shell with some tough love. I am absolutely with you there.
I’m not just talking in the context of school PE which I believe is a terrible wasted opportunity for most children.
I was allowed, by parents and the education system, to get away with not doing anything I didn’t want to do. A lovely idea but it made me lazy and without clear goals I also don’t feel I achieved much.
As an adult I have friends who were in the scouts or did DofE, or maybe CCF, along with a range of sports. I never did any of it.
and - especially - "Sub and dom"
This sounds like the scenario of a homoerotic video, and - forgive me for for saying this - this discussion frequently veers towards that topic. Fine if people like that sort of thing but in the context of SCHOOLBOYS, I think it is rather distasteful, which is the main reason I am glad children don't have to go through this sort of thing these days, and there would be severe punishment for any teacher brazen enough to try it.
There were some very unhealthy attitudes displayed by some teachers in the past
Greg2 and Tom B. In 1971 when I was 12 at the Independent Grammar School I attended. We had mandatory showering after P. E.Games and it was monitored. I think I benefited greatly for this regime because I was shy and introvert in character. It made me feel more confident in my self. As mentioned earlier in the forum many Gym Masters would have undergone conscription and later trained as teachers. I was lucky that they past on this discipline of shouting a bit and having tough love towards us. I quite liked the Sub / Dom aspect of the schools policy because it made you do what you otherwise wouldn't or you would avoid it and made to it,c