Easy as ABC
This month we’re kickin' it old-school to commemorate the International Literacy Day and ease the back-to-school gloom happening all around the country. Spanning decades of learning in classrooms and on school trips, children in these films are prepared and super-keen to get involved. Whether your school days are still fresh in your memory or long gone, we’ve all been there at some point. Watch and share your memories in the comments!
Were you of school age in the early 1960s? Then perhaps you’re one of our future citizens! This entertaining piece features a wealth of examples from schools around North West London. It’s filmed entirely in black-and-white so we have to trust the narrator when it comes to the ‘gaily coloured roundabouts and swings’. We also learn that drinks are always on the house in the school bar! “Will our future citizens live up to the high standards we are setting them; will they help to make a better job of the world than we have?” What do you think - did they?
Our Future Citizens: Children of 1961
Amateur film of Cherry Lane School, including all the joys of sports day and happy waving for the camera in the classroom. There’s a sack race, a dressing-up game, pool exercises and swimming lessons. Keep an eye out for the pupils dressed in costumes for their international fair and a museum trip followed by a picnic lunch by the canal.
Cherry Lane School
Lovely little film made at Queen Mary’s Hospital for Children in Carshalton showing the activities engaged in by the patients resident there. Full of happy faces and notable for its inclusive atmosphere – whether you’re bed-ridden or wheelchair-bound, everyone’s welcome to learn and join in the fun. Featuring magic tricks, exciting experiments and minor workshop mishaps.
Queen Mary's Hospital School
Though the school itself no longer exists (having been amalgamated with others to form today’s Graveney School), this mid-century film shows the Battersea Grammar School boys’ activities and the celebrations for the 250th anniversary. From crocodile skulls and two-seater planes through dissection and chemical experiments, this charming film has it all.
Battersea Grammar School 250th Anniversary Celebrations
In the oldest film chosen for this gallery, Shirley Schools pupils participate in games and festivities during the summer fete. This is a great reminder that it’s not all about reading and writing – it’s important to have a bit of fun too. Just like the years of compulsory education, the film then ends with two children heading to take their place in the real world.
The Shirley Schools, Croydon, c.1927-29
Pupils get their hands dirty while learning in the great outdoors around Bisham Abbey. Watch colourful footage of lawn tennis, canoeing and archery, and don’t miss the ‘Oops’ moment of the girl in a red cardigan.
Crayford County Secondary School: Trip to Bisham Abbey 1973
Bethany and Aaron, pupils of the Welling School in Bexley, introduce you to Year 7 and reassure you that it isn’t as bad as some would have you believe. They discuss various intimidating topics and issues, such as bullying, getting lost, or too much school work, and how one can cope with these. This is a turn-of-the-century VHS at its best – with cool music, wild and bright intertitles, and young protagonists speaking candidly straight into the camera.
Moving up to Year Seven: A Welling School Film
Glorious 1990s fashions and hairstyles are captured in this more recent example of teaching methods. Through images and words, this professionally edited video highlights cultural diversity in the borough’s schools. Learn about Education week, reading in the Storytent, and early IT education – anyone remember those ancient computers?
Our Children: Primary Education for Brent in the 1990s