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Memoirs of a Schoolgirl

With our latest themed room being based on 'school years', I thought, why not write about my own memories of school? After all, someone might be interested!

I remember my first day at infant school which was Wood End First School in Stantonbury, Milton Keynes. This was in the mid 1970s and I remember my mother wearing fake fur gloves on the day. I was sobbing my heart out into these gloves crying 'don't leave me mummy' - they must have been drenched!

I don't remember a great deal about my time at Wood End First School but I do remember the teacher trying to teach the class how to write their date of birth and I just didn't get it. This was probably due to the fact that my deafness at this point was undiagnosed and no doubt I wasn't hearing what the teacher was saying. (As a baby Mum used to think I was just a sound sleeper because I slept through the noise of vacuum cleaning, washing machine - anything!). Anyway, I got so frustrated with being unable to understand what was required, I picked up the chair I was sitting on, threw it across the room and stormed out of the school - I was only five years old! I have no idea what happened then but I marched home and remember being sent back to school the next day.

I remember reading 'The Naughtiest Girl in the School' by Enid Blyton and asking my parents: “What's boarding school?”. For me, that was the turning point although my parents insist not. From that day forward I heard a lot about boarding school and it transpired I was to start the new Autumn term at a boarding school in Warwickshire. I was eight at this time and was devastated to hear that I was leaving all my friends behind but, how fantastic, we had two extra weeks holiday while those at home who were going up to Stantonbury Middle School (now known as Stantonbury Campus) had to return!

I LOVED boarding school - it was fab! I went to Homefield, Bilton Grange for two years. It was the best school ever! By this time my deafness had been diagnosed. I was falling behind at school so I was sent to boarding school to enable me to catch up. The classes were much smaller and therefore much more one-on-one tuition was possible.

I remember being in 'Big Dorm' and having a midnight feast at the end of term. I was sitting on the bed of my friend opposite when everyone in the dorm except me dashed back to bed! I didn't realise anything was wrong. And then the matron (Mrs. F. as we called her then) entered the room, turned on the lights and there was I, out of bed, while everyone else pretended to be asleep - how embarrassing! I was sent to stand outside the headmistress's flat at the end of the corridor for a time, as punishment, but I ended up in the toilets next door instead, being too scared to stay there!

During this time in Homefield, I contracted a verruca on my foot. Over time, it became so painful I was sent to the sick room and bed for a week. One particularly memorable episode occurred when I got up one morning feeling poorly. I went down to join everyone at breakfast and promptly had to excuse myself for the bathroom. I ran out to the bathroom, locked the door and was then faced with Mrs F. banging on the cubicle door for me to come out. I yelled back that I was on the toilet. On exiting the cubicle, I took one step and passed out - that gave Mrs F. a fright I think!

When I left boarding school I went to a prep school, Sherrards Wood in Hertfordshire, as a day pupil. I don't recall a great deal about my time there but it wasn't too bad. I do remember it was during my time at this school that I broke my collar bone. I went with my family on a walking trip on Dartmoor and we found some flat rocks to sit on for lunch. I'd finished my lunch and was messing about as kids do. 'Don't go down there or you won't be able to get back up...' said Mum. Of course I immediately went down there. When I tried to get back up I fell down against the rock. I felt woozy at this point and it was very hot so we walked a short way so I could sit in the shade . I put out my hand on some rocks to steady myself and OH the pain!!!!! It was at that point that my parents realised I had broken something and I had to walk all the way back to the car in agony - I certainly learned the lesson of Do As You're Told Or Else!

I finished my primary education at Sherrards Wood and then transferred to Hitchin Girls School. Again, a fab school. I really can't fault it except to say that I wasn't there long enough! I was there for a term and then my family moved to a rented house in South Wales where I spent the next term in Caldicot comprehensive. I didn't like it there as I could not get to grips with the timetable - one week on timetable A, the next week on B, and then back to A. I could never remember where we were!

We soon moved yet again to our own house and the final term of my first year in secondary school (nowadays known as year seven) was spent at Chepstow comprehensive which was then called St. Kingsmark. I spent the next three years here and then went a mile up the road to Larkfield School for the fourth year (the norm for pupils attending Chepstow comprehensive at this time), returning to St Kingsmark for my final year. We were the last pupils to go to Larkfield as St. Kingsmark was being expanded. We were all moved back to St Kingsmark which was now ready to accommodate the older pupils studying for O' Levels. Larkfield closed its doors as a school and has now been transformed into flats and houses.

My time in Chepstow comprehensive was the longest time I spent in one school. Unfortunately, for me, it wasn't the best school. I don't have many happy memories of Chepstow Comprehensive. It was a very trying time for me. In a number of subjects the teachers were unable to control the class and therefore I spent much time struggling as I simply couldn't hear what was being said. In fact, I do recall getting a thousand lines 'I must hand my homework in on time' as I didn't hear the teacher tell us when it was due in! I remember one teacher in particular really struggled to control the class. I think he was a new teacher, straight out of University when he joined Chepstow comprehensive, and in the first few days he tried too hard to be liked by the pupils in his class - poor chap - he just ended up with a very unruly class!

Another memory I have of my O'Level years is when I was studying French. Imagine my dismay when I was put with a teacher who was Italian by birth, therefore had an Italian accent and was teaching us French! It was difficult enough to understand her English - I didn't stand a chance really...

Looking back, I never seemed to start at a new school when lots of new pupils were entering at the same time, so I never really got accepted as part of a particular circle - I was always the new girl who joined partway through a year. Overall, my primary school years were the best - I never want to be a teenager again but I wouldn't mind being pre-teen!

Contributed by Sonia

(Published 29th Oct 2014)

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