Differences between schools 1960's-1999 and 2014, Saffron Jarvis, 2014

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For our family project we looked at the differences between schools in Wales from the 1960’s -1999 and Raglan V C Primary School in 2014. We interviewed different people face-to-face, on the telephone and using email and we visited the school room at Tredegar House in Newport to see what we could find out there.


We asked a list of questions, including: Where did you go to primary school?

  • When did you go to primary school?
  • Did you wear a school uniform?
  • Did you have homework?
  • How many pupils were in your class?
  • Did you have computers in the classroom?
  • Did you have school dinners or home sandwiches?
  • Did you have milk?
  • Did you enjoy school?
  • What did you enjoy most about school?
  • Did you have detention?
  • Did you have teaching assistants?
  • Did you go on school trips?
  • How did you get to school?
  • Did you learn Welsh?
  • Can you remember any funny stories about school?

My Mum’s best friend Rachel Holly-Fenwick went to Ebbw Vale Catholic Primary School in the 1970’s. She said she had a school uniform. She wore a red and black gym slip. Girls were not allowed to wear trousers. She said she didn’t get any homework. She said there were 12 girls in her class and 8 boys. There were no nuns at her school but a priest came every week and the children had to go to confession. They had to sit with the priest and tell him all the bad things they had done. Then they had to say, “Hail Mary” lots of times to be forgiven. They often went to the Catholic Church for services. I think that her school sounded very interesting during the interview but the confession must have been scary! I’m glad we don’t have confession at Raglan! My cousin Jessica is in Reception at the same school in 2014. She doesn’t have to go to confession but she does have homework.

My Mum went to Pontygarreg Primary School in Ebbw Vale between 1971 and 1978. She told me that she thought there were about 30 people in her class. When she was in Reception, she remembers that all the children had to have a lie-down in the afternoon. She didn’t wear uniform and didn’t have any writing homework but she had a spelling test every Friday morning when she was in juniors. She had milk and a snack break in the morning and there was a tuck shop. Mummy used to help to sell the tuck when she was in juniors and she remembers a packet of crisps being 2.5p when she was my age. Mummy had violin lessons on Friday mornings. She was very scared of her violin teacher because she was very strict! Assemblies were usually taken by the Headmaster, Mr George or the Deputy Head Mr Holly. There was always a Bible story and every child had a hymn book. Mummy remembers going on one school trip each year in the Summer term. She remembers going to Bristol Zoo but her favourite trip was when she was in Year 6 and they went from Bewdley to Bridgenorth by steam train and then they visited Ironbridge Gorge. Most of the children walked to school. There were no school minibuses. Mummy remembers her lollipop man won a national award and had to go to London to get a prize. Just like Raglan, my Mum’s primary school was used for other things in the evenings. She used to go to Brownies there and her Mum used to go to handicrafts.

The funniest thing Mummy can remember about school was when she was in Year 6 she got so fed up with the shiny toilet paper in the children’s toilets she wrote a letter complaining to Margaret Thatcher about it and got all the other children on her table to sign it. They even got a reply from the House of Commons but they never got soft toilet paper!

We also interviewed Mr Holly who was Mummy’s Year 6 teacher in 1978. He is my Mum’s best friend’s Dad, so he was easy to find. He said he couldn’t remember anything about the letter to Mrs Thatcher but he did laugh when he heard about it. He was at the school from 1975 until 1988. He said there were actually more like 36 to 40 children in each class at that time. He said there were no teaching assistants unless there was a disabled child in the class. He said that in the 70’s and 80’s the government brought out lots of new ideas. He said He remembers in the early 70’s every school had to have one teacher who could teach French and that person even had to go to France to learn French. He said that in the 1980’s everything had to be taught through Environmental Studies, even English and Maths.

My Auntie Rebecca went to Govilon Village Primary School from 1979 – 1982. She didn’t wear uniform and she didn’t have homework. She liked writing poems and doing gymnastics. She said that she didn’t go on school trips. There were no computers in her classroom, which was in Portacabin. There were no teaching assistants. She remembers that she played Gretel in the school play, Hansel and Gretel. She had school milk and remembers the silver lids on the milk bottles. She said that if you were very good you were allowed to put the straws in the tops of the milk bottles. There were less than 30 in her class. Her funniest memory is when she was drinking what she thought was coca cola at lunchtime and someone had put vinegar in her cup! Her worst memory was being the last person in her class to start writing with a pen instead of a pencil.

Caroline Hughes went to Rougemont School from 1977 – 1991. She wore a smart uniform and she had a blazer which she wasn’t allowed to take off without permission. Uniform rules were very strict. Girls were not allowed to wear ankle socks. They could only wear tights. Even hair bobbles had to be the right colour. They had to carry briefcases. Girls were not allowed to wear trousers. Her school day was longer than ours at Raglan. She started school at 9 o’clock and finished at 4.15pm. There were no computers for pupils to use in the classroom. All pupils sat at single desks in rows. There were separate boys and girls PE sessions. They had no playing field as the school was in the centre of Newport so they had to go to Glebelands on a minibus. She learned Latin. She loved school, especially history and PE. They didn’t stay in the same classroom they moved around the school and had different teachers for different subjects. They had two lots of exams a year, starting from the age of seven. There were strict punishments and lots of detentions. She remembers dropping a pen by accident and getting 100 lines. They were not allowed biros. They had to use fountain pens. They had chalk boards. When a teacher came in everyone stood up and they had to be silent. They had school lunch and no home sandwiches. She said that the tuck shop was amazing and there were also vending machines. She loved assembly because they walked to St Woolos Cathedral and had assemblies there. There were clubs but only sports clubs. She went to school on a school minibus. My cousins Oska and Mannie go to Rougemont school in 2014. They have lots of homework and there are still strict rules about uniform. Now they have a new building with large playing fields.

We talked to Michael Marley who went to Wyesham primary school. He was in Reception in 1994 and he left in 2001. He remembers they got the first computer in the classroom when he was in Year 3. They were so proud of the computer even though it had to be shared between years 3 and 4. They wore uniform which was a school polo shirt and trousers or skirts. There was no homework until Year 5 and Year 6. He didn’t have school milk. He remembers having orange squash at the end of the day. There were no Teaching Assistants unless there was a pupil with Special Needs. When he was in Year 6 laptops were just turning up in school. There were after school sports clubs. Even though this was the youngest person we interviewed there were still only chalk boards in the classrooms.

We visited Tredegar House because it used to be a school, called St Joseph’s Convent School for girls in the 1960’s. In 1969 the name was changed to St Joseph’s High School.

What did we find out about the differences between schools in the 1960’s – 1999 and Raglan VC Primary School in 2014?

They didn’t have as many computers as we do. Some classrooms had none.

They had chalk boards.

There were often more than 30 pupils in a class.

There wasn’t usually a Teaching Assistant in the classroom.

Children usually walked or went to school in the car.

You couldn’t bring home sandwiches. You had to have the school meal of the day.

The only clubs were sports clubs. Some of the same lessons.


Worship in church sometimes.

School dinners.

Free school milk in infants. We have lots of computers and Fizz books.

We have interactive white boards.

We have a maximum of 30 pupils in a class.

We have teaching assistants in most classes.

Many children come to school by minibus.

We have a choice between school dinners and home sandwiches.

We have a variety of different clubs.

Schools in the 1960’s - 1999 Both Raglan VC Primary in 2014 Some schools had stricter punishments.

Most schools didn’t have uniform.

Girls were not allowed to wear trousers.

They usually went on one school trip a year.

None of the classes went swimming.

Only some of the people we interviewed had homework.

Pupils in private schools had exams from the age of 7.

School trips.

We always wear uniform but sometimes have non-uniform days. Girls are allowed to wear trousers.

We go on lots of trips.

We have swimming lessons.

We have homework in every class.

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