Home Page

Life at the school

Life at School - Uniform & Assembly

Uniform

In the 1930’s, boys wore shorts and shirt and girls wore a gymslip and blouse. A blazer was worn if possible (often homemade), with a school badge.

During the 1970’s there doesn’t appear to have been a school uniform as such, but from about 1980 an optional uniform in green and red was specified; no further details are known, but as a tie was available it might be assumed to include a collared (tailored) shirt.

In the 1990’s, the colours changed to red sweater/jumper with white Polo/T-shirts with a logo.

During the Mansfield reorganisation of schools, where many of the former 'first' and 'middle' schools became primary schools, the uniform was updated. The school logo remained largely the same, with a P replacing the F of 'First' school, and now appeared in yellow on a burgundy sweatshirt/cardigan. Children in the Nursery wore a yellow polo shirt with the logo emblazoned in burgundy.

Assembly

Probably at least up until the Second World War, girls and boys had separate entrances (the ‘Girls’ entrance can still be seen in St Andrew Street), and whilst girls shared a cloakroom with infants, junior boys had their own cloakroom.

Assembly included a moral story. The Lord’s Prayer and Grace were said in class, and there was a Blessing before home.

colours changed to red sweater/jumper with white Polo/T-shirts with a logo

Classes and Curriculum

In the 1920 and 30’s on leaving the ‘nursery’ for the main school, the classes would usually advance through the school with their teacher, “obviating any break in the continuity of their work or comradeship with their teacher.” [Ref: Education Week February 10th to 16th, 1926. Mansfield Education Committee.]

This is obviously quite different to now, where children may have several class teachers over their school career, and see other teachers or teaching assistants during the day for particular subjects or special help.

Classes in both schools were largely mixed except for particular activities. For example, right up until possibly the late 1960’s the curriculum included handicrafts and applied arts for girls (e.g. dressmaking, needlework and cookery), and model making and woodwork for boys.

In fact woodwork, for instance, was practiced to such a level, that in 1930 an oak side table was made by the children and presented to the Mayoress of Mansfield – remember, these children would not be older than 14 at this time!

Given the nature of the local industry, these lessons seem to have been designed specifically as preparation for entry to apprenticeships or other work in hosiery or shoe production, or to one of the trades associated with the railways, the mines, the building industry, foundries etc in the immediate area.

Pottery and other arts and crafts were probably available to both girls and boys, although the school logs particularly notes girls that visited the local Art College, in Carr Bank Park, as prospective students, suggesting that there was some gender differentiation here also.

Picture 1
Music and Theatre

Poetry recital, elocution, drama and music have always been an important part of the curriculum at King Edward and pupils from both schools regularly won prizes or achieved merit awards at the Mansfield Music Festival, from their inauguration in 1924 to at least 1965. In 1929 the school was awarded first prize for ‘Elementary School Orchestras’. During the 1950’s and ‘60’s, King Edward pupils regularly brought home 20 to 30 awards. The last recorded entry in the school logs is for 1978 after a long gap - whether because there were no entries or because the festival didn’t take place every year is not known – when the school took a single award of 1st prize for unison singing.

The Mansfield Musical Festival or Mansfield Music & Drama Festival ran annually, usually in April or May, from 1924, except for a break during The Second World War (1940 – 1944). The festival celebrated individual and group performances of verse or prose reading, dramatic and musical recitals. The competition was open to all and was split into age groups, with several divisions at elementary school level. Performances were marked by an adjudicator and prizes and certificates awarded; usually, first, second and third prize and merit awards. Cups were also presented for the best performances in each category. The festival seems to have fizzled out in the 1970’s, although there are signs of a revival with similar events planned for 2008 and 2009.

Throughout the school’s history, choirs and musicians from the school have regularly given concerts at other schools and at special events and local venues. In 1951, the ‘senior’ (junior) choir represented the East Midlands in the Festival of Britain Choir Festival in London.

Certainly since the 1950’s, and possibly before, the school have produced a major concert each summer term that runs for several performances and is open to friends and family. These have varied from established productions performed in the school hall, such as the operetta ‘The Dolls Wedding’ (1976), the ‘Wizard of Oz’ (1985), ‘Peter Pan’ (1986) and ‘Mary Poppins’ (1987), to something more akin to a variety concert, including both dramatic and musical performances.

King Edward has also staged full scale productions at the Civic Hall (now Palace Theatre), Mansfield, open to the public. There are programmes for two productions, Hansel & Gretel and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The programmes only indicate the dates of these performance and not the year, but they appear to have been in the late 1950’s or possibly early 1960’s; this is based on the only years in which the day and month can fall, together with the schools being called ‘Mansfield King Edward County Primary School’ on the programmes and the Palace Theatre being known as the ‘Civic Hall’.

The Palace Theatre first opened as the town’s first purpose built cinema, called the Palace Electric Theatre in 1910. In 1949 the cinema was closed and the stage enlarged to accommodate live theatre and variety shows. In 1953 Mansfield District Council bought the theatre, restored it and in 1956 it re-opened as the Civic Hall. It was renamed the Civic Theatre in 1968, after a public competition. It was completely refurbished and reopened as the Palace Theatre in 1997.

King Edward has a proud tradition of theatrical and musical performance that is still seen today.

Picture 1
Picture 2
Picture 3
Picture 4
Picture 5
Picture 6
Picture 7
Exercise

There was no school field and no ‘gym’ available for sports or exercise until after the Second World War, and so exercise in the first 40 or so years was probably limited to PE and country dancing in the school hall.

The entrance in the Infants school is described as a ‘marching corridor’, which suggests that this may also have been an activity for the youngest children, at least in the 1910’s and 1920’s.

Once the playing fields became available, from about 1945 onwards, there are regular reports of football matches against rival local schools by the King Edward team.

Swimming was available in the public baths in nearby Bath Street, and later the Water Meadows that replaced them.

‘Headteacher’s Garden’

There was some provision for school gardening - apparently 1,200yd2 for a class of 16 pupils. (???)

[Ref: The Development of Education in Nottinghamshire 1889-1989: A Personal View. Ingles R. (1989?)]

Although space was limited, King Edward did have a lawn and a rose garden behind the junior school building throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s and into the ‘70’s. Although called the headmasters garden, it was apparently established and largely maintained by the children.

It is not known when the garden finally succumbed to neglect or to change of use through demand for space around the school, probably the 1980’s, but there are plans to reinstate it in the near future.

Picture 1
Meals

There does not appear to have been provision for cooking school meals on-site in the original plans for King Edward Schools, although a ‘scullery’ was provided in both buildings presumably for dealing with the remains of brought-in meals.

The 1906 Education Act empowered Local Education Authorities to provide free school meals, which implies that paid for meals were already available. In 1921 this was extended to free milk.

From 1934 free school meals were available to poorest families, but not often taken up because of stigma. There is no record of the cost of paid for meals. School milk was provided at a subsidised price of 1/2d (1/2 old penny, equivalent to c.10p now) for 1/3 pint, but was free to the poorest families. [Ref: The Development of Education in Nottinghamshire 1889-1989: A Personal View. Ingles R. (1989?)]

In fact up until the Second World War, most children probably went home for lunch [supporting the idea of a very local catchment for the schools] or brought in ‘bread & marg’.

The School Milk Act 1946 was passed by the Labour Government under Clement Attlee, as a measure to break the link discovered by John Boyd Orr in 1937 that there was a connection between low-income, malnutrition and under-achievement in schools. This Act ordered the issue of one-third of a pint of milk free to all pupils under eighteen.

In 1963, about half the pupils at King Edward took mid-day meals at school, provided by a central kitchen at 1/-s per day (c.5p then and equivalent to 75p today); of which c.5% were having free dinners.

By 1970, about three-quarters of King Edward pupils took mid-day meals at school, still provided by a central kitchen, at 1s/6d per day (12.5p then and equivalent to £1.35 today), although now c.9% of these were having free dinners. [Ref: West Nottinghamshire Divisional Executive Yearbooks. NCC]

In 1971, Margaret Thatcher, then Education Secretary, notoriously ended free school milk for children over the age of 7 years old.

The kitchen in the upper building was provided in the 1990’s, from a re-arrangement of the old scullery. It was used initially to heat brought-in dinners, but now supplies upto 100 school dinners cooked on-site each day.

In 2006 various proposals were made to end all free school milk, although this has not yet happened.

Since 2004 free fruit and vegetables have been available to all children in Nursery and Key Stage 1 as part of The School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme. The government lead project is part of the 5 A DAY programme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. 

Mrs Pope, the School Cook, provides a tuck shop for Key Stage 2 children at morning playtime. This has changed over the last few years with children now able to buy hot buttered toast, fruit juices and fresh fruit bags.

Celebrations

Up until the 1950’s or 60’s school children marked most significant dates, as well as special days such as Coronations, with activities in school or holidays. This is much less the case now.

The photograph on the right shows children celebrating Empire Day (24th May), possibly in the late c.1920’s or early 1930’s; they are standing by the side entrance to the upper school.

On Empire Day 1946, the Infants’ school log records that “the top three classes listened to the wireless programme and then sang the national anthem.”

Empire Day was a Victorian notion to remind children of the meaning of belonging to the British Empire. However it was not first publically celebrated until 1902, after the Queen’s death, and was not an annual event until 1916. Each Empire Day, school children across the British Empire would typically salute the union flag and sing patriotic songs like ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘God Save the Queen’. They would be given inspirational speeches and told stories of courage and adventure from across the Empire, such as those of heroes like Clive of India, Wolfe of Québec and Gordon of Khartoum. School would finish early so that the children could take part in one or more of the many marches, maypole dances, concerts or parties held in celebration around the town. With the decline in the Empire, the event was renamed British Commonwealth Day in 1958 and then Commonwealth Day in 1966. It was also moved to 10th June, Queen Elizabeth II official birthday, and then again, in 1977, to the second Monday in March. Commonwealth Day is now largely forgotten as a national celebration, and certainly not remembered in most British schools. [Ref: www.historic-uk.com]

A three day holiday was granted in May 1937 to celebrate the Coronation of King George VI, with tea parties and souvenirs being distributed to the children, and a half a day holiday was granted for the Silver Wedding celebrations of King George and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) in 1948.

For the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June 1953, King Edward Schools took part in a procession and a pageant with the theme ‘The Elizabethan Age’. The Infants’ school paraded from Titchfield Park in fancy dress of nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and the Junior school provided a tableau at Mill Field called ‘The ElizabethanTheatre’, with a scene from ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in a model of the Globe Theatre. A programme of music was also provided by a massed school choir (500 voices from various secondary and primary schools in Mansfield) accompanied by Mansfield Colliery Welfare Silver Band.

[Ref: Pamphlet ‘Mansfield Schools Coronation Celebrations – 1953’]

The school’s Golden Jubilee was also celebrated in 1953, with a special day of events and the unveiling of a plaque in the school hall. The Mansfield & North Notts Chronicle Advertiser reported that, “A plaque commemorating the occasion was unveiled by the head boy and girl, Raymond Wylde and Vivian Greenslade, both aged 11, and a 10 year old pupil – Andrew Ford – wrote the words to a ‘School Golden Jubilee Song’, which was set to music by Mr W. Sadler, a teacher, and sung by the school choir.” and “A lectern and assembly table were dedicated to the memory of former headmasters Mr S. Pickering and Mr M. Widdowson, by Mr A. Abbott, the present head.”

[Ref: Mansfield & North Notts Chronicle Advertiser ‘School’s Golden Jubilee’ 23/04/53 p1c4]

Additional half-day and day holidays are often noted in the school logs as having been granted in recognition of work done or targets achieved; e.g. in March 1937 and July 1938, half-day holidays were granted for achieving attendance targets in that month!

 

In the photograph below, the children are celebrating Empire Day, sometime in the c.1920’s/30’s, standing by the side entrance to the upper school.

Empire Day was renamed British Commonwealth Day in 1958, and so this photograph could have been taken at any time between 1903 and then. From the dress, and particularly the uniform of the boy standing on the right, it appears to be from the 1920’s or 1930’s

Picture 1

  • King Edward Primary School, St Andrew Street
  • Littleworth, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire
  • NG18 2RG, 01623 472215