Flashbacks,  Random

Were You a Child of the 70s?

My son and I were discussing his primary school the other day and how times have changed. I showed him an old photograph I had of a classroom from my junior school, many moons ago, and he couldn’t believe that our teachers used a blackboard. I remember my childhood very well and have fond memories of my time at Junior school in the 1970s. I do work in schools, and when I compare the differences from then and now, it is quite significant the way lessons and school life has changed; often quite dramatically.

With this nostalgic frame of mind, I had a good look on the web the other day endeavouring to find old photographs of what school life was like in the 1970s, and enjoyed looking at the changes. It jogged my memory for all the right reasons, near enough, and I wanted to share these images with you and the memories and stories I have behind them.

The Blackboard



Within schools now, they have interactive whiteboards which save teachers a large amount of time by saving their written work, much like a computer does. The blackboard could obviously only be used once, and the precious information chalked up there, would have to be erased to create more room. All children loved to be chosen to have a go on the blackboard and use the rubber. It was a joy to use, but there was always the naughty kid that wrote a swear word on there when no one was looking.

Just 20 years before this, any teacher could throw a blackboard rubber at any child he/she wanted, if they were naughty. 


Milk in Bottles



Drinking your school milk was a great thing to do if you actually liked it. Unfortunately, if you didn’t like it, you had to drink it anyway and had no choice. Poor kids! I loved it  when the caretaker brought it in on a cold day. If it was a hot day, he used to leave it outside in the sun and it tasted yuk! It gives me ‘Fondish’ memories. They still give milk to children of a certain age in schools today, but not in a glass bottle, for health and safety reasons, but in a plastic bottle for recycling purposes.



The horse box!!! (Was this the correct name? I’ve forgotten)



Does anyone remember using this during PE in the hall? We all stood in a queue and were instructed to climb it, (It was always at it’s highest!) and then told to jump off in a different way to anyone else. I always remember this piece of apparatus to be completely scary and too high for such a small child. Those were the days 🙁



A New Box of Crayola Crayons




Art lessons were great when your teacher reached into her cupboard and got out a new box of crayons for the class to use. It was so exciting. They were never returned in such pristine condition though. Half of them had been trodden into the carpet and the other half were themselves, now in half or snapped into quarters. No wonder they were a treat.



Obsolete (as far as I can tell)


Two kids stretch a large piece of elastic around their ankles and face each other. The kid in the middle then does this sort of jumping pattern over the elastic, turning this way and that. The kid after this comes in and tries to copy the routine. I was quite good at this.


Rosehip Syrup

Current (unsure if cooks still use it in schools)


The dreaded semolina pudding that every kid hated! It resembled rice pudding which was far superior, but this stuff looked like weak wallpaper paste with a lukewarm temperature. It was a struggle to get the stuff down, so dinner ladies made the task a little more bearable by swirling in some of this Rosehip syrup. I think school dinners are a little better today so this product is not necessary.



Spider Plant

Current (if you look around carefully)



These plants were always lurking in schools somewhere. They were either in a staffroom, on a class windowsill or in the school office. They never looked healthy and were half dead through lack of water. Teachers are too busy to water plants bless them; no sarcasm intended, they really do have too much to do!




Swimming Proficiency Badges

Obsolete (Unless the school is lucky enough to have swimming lessons)


My Junior school had its own swimming pool, and that was very fortunate in the 70s. We didn’t have swimming badges as ornate as the one’s in this picture but had a small strip of ribbon given to us to stitch onto our bathing costume signifying the distance we’d swam. Green for 1 width, Red for 3 and Blue for 9. I was an extremely proud little girl to receive my swimming badges.


Classroom Pets

Current, (occasionally)


Can you remember having a classroom pet? Our class never had one, but others did. They were usually goldfish or guinea pigs. I still think this is a lovely idea for schools to have a pet within the classroom. It teaches children how to care for living things and provides children, that are not allowed a pet at home, to look after one at school. We had some tadpoles in our classroom the other week, but it’s not such a common thing to do now, which is a shame.


The Eraser or Rubber




A rubber that served no purpose whatsoever. The manufacturers insisted it was the only rubber that could erase pen ink with the blue side. This was a lie! Countless children tried to rub out the biro marks to such an extent that they created holes all over their exercise books.



Pink Staining Teeth Tablets

Current (I think)

Once a year, your teacher came in with a box full of little packs of toothpaste, a toothbrush and some of these pink staining teeth tablets. You had to endure a good hours speech from a representative from a dental organisation somewhere in the country, and then you were given these individual packs and instructed to chew on a tablet until the pink stain covered the plaque on your teeth. You were then instructed to go down to the washroom and brush that PINK away to within an inch of its life. It took bloody ages to come off, and all the kids were walking around smiling at each other saying “Is it off yet”? every 5 minutes. I think it was a way for teachers to have an extended fag and coffee break in the staffroom. Oh, the joys 😉

Buttermilk Soap



I loved the smell of these little soaps in the washrooms. They were so cute and small and it was a joy to find a new one on the washbasin. I remember going to see the caretaker with a fellow pupil to get some more and he had a shed load of the things in his room. Honestly, I’ve never seen so much soap! I reckon he used to over order the stuff and give it to his friends and family. No wonder schools are making cutbacks!


Desktop Pencil Sharpener

Current (But not as ornate)


Didn’t you just want to wear that pencil down in order to use this magnificent contraption on your teacher’s desk?  They were just great to use with the whirring noise as your pencil turned, and then you could watch the pencil shavings fall into the little glass container at the bottom. Your teacher cottoned on quite quickly though once one kid had successfully sharpened their pencil and got away with it because the whole class would bang their pencils on their desks to flatten them so they could have a turn. Those teachers were astute!



Rubber Swimming Caps

Obsolete (Thank Goodness)


The worst part of swimming for any girl was having to wear one of these disgusting things if you had long hair. They were unnecessary, uncomfortable, old-fashioned and tight. In fact, when you took them off, after your swim, they stuck to your head and pulled your hair really hard. Ouch!



Golden Gum Glue



Does anyone remember this glue in a bottle? We used this a lot in the classroom, but the design was terrible. After use, the glue was left to clog up the red top and the next time you used it, it took you 10 minutes to unclog it again using scissors. No health and safety issues were bothered about in that time period, you just had to get on with it, even if it meant slicing your hand off! The best use of the glue was smearing onto your hands and letting it dry so you could peel it off.



18 Foot High Climbing Frames




These were definitely a health and safety hazard. They were great fun, but extremely dangerous, mainly because they were built onto a concrete surface and to fall would have been life threatening. Some of the playground equipment in the 70s was quite risky.



Chocolate Sponge with Chocolate Custard

Current (But not the same)

The highlight of the school dinner week was to have this pudding on a Friday. It was glorious and I loved it. I still remember is with fondness and asked my mum to make it many times, she couldn’t obviously. Dinner Ladies have secret ingredients.



Wide Range Readers




The English Comprehension workbook for all children in Junior schools in the 1970s. I do remember this book quite well, and you were given a different colour according to your level. It had the format of reading a text then answering questions about it.




Peter and Jane Ladybird Books




They were a series of books that were used for children to learn to read from Reception. They began with 1a and you worked towards 12c. Once you arrived at the 12c  winning post you were then classed as a proficient reader and were given free choice of reading material. I always remember these books because they had wonderful and colourful illustrations. A regular character within the books was Pat the dog. As a class, we visited ‘Ladybird’ books in Loughborough on a school trip. It was great.



Savings Scheme




This was an interesting concept for such young children. We were visited by a bank or post office one day and each received our own savings books where we could put some money aside each week. Obviously, not all the children could do this because times were harder for parents, but I remember having one and saved 20p a week. I thought my friend was rich because she saved 50p a week. I still don’t have any idea what happened to that money!



Wooden boxed TV



Wasn’t it exciting when your teacher left the room and wheeled in the TV to watch a programme? There were no video recorders then (Now I feel really old), so the lessons had to be scheduled around the programme that was coming on the TV at a certain time of day. ‘How we used to live’ was a popular one.






The phonics programme for children. He was an orange spongy little fella covered in letters with a strange voice. The TV show was quite good though and was used to help children to learn to read in their English lessons.




Current (In selected schools)


Learning to play the recorder was a requirement in Junior schools at this time. All children were given a recorder to use and there were lessons every week. I work as a supply at primary schools, which means that I visit different ones on a weekly basis. I have only been to one in the past year that still has recorder lessons, and this was only within one classroom because the teacher was musically inclined. Music lessons are not taught very much in primary schools nowadays and I think it’s very sad. Music enables children to be creative, work together and have fun. Additionally, I think it’s valuable to learn to read music, just in case a child wishes to pursue this career later in life.



Boring Field Trips


The excitement of the school trip. Packed lunch and drink ready, waterproof clothes and a little bit of loose change for the gift shop. When you got there you realised quite quickly you would be walking around a boring field for 3 hours in search of a historic rocky outcrop, where you would all sit down to eat your packed lunch and then it would always start pissing it down! Then to make it even more awful, you were given a bloody worksheet to fill in. Trips are meant to be fun, not for school work! This picture is of ‘Bosworth Battlefield’ in England. The most boring trip in the world.




I had a massive bag of glass marbles, all pretty colours with the treasured pure white opaque ones. I cannot for the life of me remember how we played this game, but you sat on the playground floor with a friend facing each other over the drains ( the slatted ones; a bit like a miniature cattle grid!), playing marbles over it.  It sounds disgusting I know. You then got out a marble each and played over the drain and tried to win your opponent’s marbles. I won loads, but then one sad sorry day, I was running across the playground swinging the heavy large bag around and around in the air, the bag split and all my marbles scattered across the playground. Some kid shouted ‘Scramble’, everyone literally scrambled, and I lost the bloody lot!


Sewing Lesson




We had a once a week sewing lesson where you were given this great piece of fabric with holes in it and a plastic needle. You then made a pretty pattern for your mum. This was a lovely restful lesson and I remember it well.



The Overhead Projector





This was always used in assemblies so the teacher could put a hymn sheet on the glass surface that was then projected onto the wall. It was such a privilege to be in charge of the overhead projector.




Wooden Desk with an Inkwell



When I think about it, these items of furniture were even old then, mainly because they still had the old inkwell on the top.  They were absolutely covered in graffiti, with words such as ‘J loves K’, or the odd swear word here and there. If you were brave enough and reached underneath there were masses of old dry chewing gum. Yuk!



I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my trip down memory lane, and it’s hopefully jogged your memory and made you smile. Have I missed anything? Please let me know in the comments because I love a bit of nostalgia. And not forgetting my American readers and others from around the world! Would you like to share your school memories?

I really look forward to your comments x

X Pip

PS…Mums could never cut a straight fringe! (See main school photograph). Poor kid 🙁














    • Baljit Kaur

      I was born in1964 so I remember all the above very well. I also remember the brutality of the teachers. One big fat one Mrs Robertshaw dragged my 7 year old brother by the hair from.one end of the hall to the other. I hope she died a very painful death

    • Pip

      I think Beth it’s the simple things that mean the most to us. Computers were just starting to be used when I was in the final years of secondary school. Yet I wish we were given more opportunities then x

  • Adele

    Do you remember the “nit nurse” good grief I do !! I had pretty long hair at primary school so I obviously was a target for the little blighters. My Mum cut all m hair off after one infestation !! Not a good look .

  • Tim

    I was in infant and junior school in the ’70’s and his brought back so many memories that made me smile.
    I remember the Wide Range Readers well but not sure if those were the books with the stories about the pirates called Roderick the red, Gregory the green and Benjamin the blue. In the Juniors I also remember the English teaching aid that consisted of a box containing short stories you read with questions afterward that tested your comprehension. These ran from red to gold and there was usually a small prize for the first pupil to complete the whole series.

    I think the programme you mentioned with Wordy was Words and Pictures with the brilliant Donald Wolfit I think and I well remember the Witches of Hallowe’en song that I believe is available on YouTube, sorry I don’t have the link. Our school had the big T.V. in the wooden cabinet with folding wooden doors on which we would watch this programme which also had a story called Sam on Boffs Island which made us giggle because boff was also slang for breaking wind.

    In our school as well as getting to use the teachers pencil sharpener we also vied for the honour of getting to use the long pole with the hook to open the windows or the guillotine for cutting paper, basically a wooden base to lay the paper on with a long blade bolted to one end that you used to cut the paper.
    Can’t imagine that happening now.

    We were also given half size exercise books and blue teardrop shaped biros in second year juniors to practice ” joined up writing”.

    We also had once a week a service for schools broadcast by the B.B.C. on radio 4.

    One thing we always enjoyed was some interesting stuff based around the arts like a visit by the Welsh National Opera who helped us write our own musical based around the great fire of London. Our school was also chosen to record a song based around the 23rd psalm that was played for the Queen on her visit to Liverpool for her silver jubilee in 1977.

    Lastly I saw the comment about the nit nurse who in my junior school was always known as nitty Nora the head explorer.

    • Pip

      Hi, thank you so much for taking the time to write such a lengthy comment. You have actually mentioned quite a few things I had forgotten about too. Wasn’t it so exciting when the teacher wheeled in the TV in the cabinet.Do you remember the small bottles of milk that were left outside in the sun? I remember too the way some of the teachers were allowed to hit your hand with a ruler, or throw blackboard rubbers at you.Shocking it was, I remember witnessing a little girl in my class being hit really hard with a ruler on her hand,quite a few times and she was really crying. She’d only been caught chatting to her friend at the desk next to her. That memory has always stayed with me, obviously because even then, you just knew as a child how disturbing it was. On a lighter note, the Nitty Nora Head Explorer quip is excellent and made me really giggle.

  • Simone Says GO!

    I’ve always been fascinated (and maybe a bit secretly envious!) of being a youth of the 70’s! I’m not familiar with the horsebox, but its interesting to see most of these instruments carried over to the 80’s when I was in primary school. You’ve brought back wonderful and very funny memories with references to the useless pink & blue rubber, that glue, and the recorders that we all can probably still hear in our heads! It’s taken me back to morning assembly and singing “All Things Bright & Beautiful”, first days of school with the spanking new lunchbox featuring a favourite character that you begged your parent to buy, and the dreaded wooden ruler that even had a not-so-affectionate name!

    • Pip

      I’d forgotten about the songs we used to sing. I have fond memories of them. I remember ‘One more step along the world I go’. Also, ‘Hark the Herald Angels sing’ at Christmas.

  • Nicola

    Thanxs for taking me down memory lane Pip. I had a good giggle at some of the comments too. Especialy nitty Nora the head explorer. You new at the end of the day who had nits because they got a letter given to them at the end of the day for their parents. Tim mentions those boxes we would read a short story then answers questions was called RSA. I loved doing those as I was a book worm back in the day and would go through about 3 a lesson. This has got me thinking as I turned 50 a few months ago and these memories are getting more precious as time goes on so once again thank you. Love from Nikki in Liverpool x

  • Heidi Perks

    Pip, i’m currently researching and remembering life in the seventies for a book i am writing and came across your post. I absoutely love it and can remember it all! Thank you for this!!! x

    • Pip

      You’re welcome. I work in schools now, and I must say the learning processes and the technology is better, however I get very nostalgic when I think about my Junior school. I really did love it.

  • Jackie

    Thank you Pip.
    Such happy memories of my time at primary school in the seventies.

    Other things I remember were classes were so much bigger. I went through juniors with a cohort of 80 with 40 children in my class…poor teacher and 40 in the parallel one.

    Assembly every morning with the Hymn Book called “With Cheerful Voice” which was green and blue and wacky sixties inspired curtains hanging in the hall. My school was a new build in 1968 on a new housing estate.

    I too remember the television on legs encased in a box with doors that opened to reveal the screen. I also remember there was a trolley with all the percussion instruments on that was wheeled to your classroom for a music lesson- I always ended up with a triangle!

    I remember the comprehension cards all levelled by colour…which I thought were called SRA cards. Some dingy colour being the lowest level leading up to the dizzy heights of aqua, rose, silver and gold at the top end…not sure you’d get away with that now. I also remember the Beta and Alpha maths scheme and being bamboozled by the fraction page.

    I also remember the lovely wooden chairs with a curved back and a coloured dot on to signal the size of chair assigned to different year groups as shown in your photograph with the television. So much nicer than the plastic chairs we have in school nowadays. I believe they were made by Ercol and are probably worth a fortune these days!

    I remember needlecraft lessons for the girls while the boys did balsa wood!

    Above all I remember the times fondly. Maths and Englishman the morning and topic in the afternoons. I too went on to work in schools as a primary school teacher and the changes have been huge but hopefully children today will like us look back fondly at their primary schooling.

    • Pip

      Thank you for this Jackie. I really enjoyed reading about the things you remembered too. I can’t remember the SRA cards, but imagine they are quite similar to the ones used now the RWI. And the percussion instruments were a joy weren’t they! And the balsa wood! aha! Thank you for sharing x Pip

  • RoseQuartz

    Hi Pip,
    Thank you for the trip down memory lane, OMG how old do I feel! Lol. Yes, all you’ve posted I remember, the thick climbing rope during P.E. was a challenge & a half also, wrapping one’s tiny legs & hands to desperately clamber up toward the top, (with only a thin rubber mat below to soften your fall) I was very shy at school, & wouldn’t say boo to a goose back in those days, I found junior school a scary place, mentally I just don’t think I understood ‘why’ I had to be there. Two things that stuck in my mind that I used to look forward to, dressing up, yes we had a big box with long dresses, hats etc that when we’d finished our lesson work, we got the privilege of getting out hands on all the lovelies it bestowed, & then acting out various roles etc. The second thing I used to look forward to was ‘art class’ I utterly loved it, found it to be inspirational, & exciting. We had a clay kiln oven at our school, so we could make all kinds of pottery animals, pots etc it was soo very cool, I still have my pink clay pig, with blue spots on, that I make way back in 1977ish or thereabouts. I.T.A. Oh yeah, I remember it well, . . . . kinda messed up my ability to spell later, when we transitioned to T.O. although, over the years my spelling has improved tremendously, thank goodness. I also remember during dinner at my school, having chocolate shortbread, with green minty custard, & cheese potato pie, & sometimes, if we were really lucky during the summer months, we’d get strawberry milkshake in a large copper jug to share at the table.They were truly innocent times back then, when the world ‘seemed’ to be a happier, less complex place. Thank You For Your Share Pip.✨🙇‍♀️✨

    • Pip

      Hello Rose Quartz. Thankyou so much for your message.I remember the puddings also, and I really did enjoy primary school. I actually work in one now and there are still many similarities. The long wooden benches, milk (in cartons now, not in bottles) and nice puddings. Not as good as we used to get though. I also run an Art club, and the kids absolutely love it. It gives them a break from Academic stuff, which there seems to be more of nowadays.Shame really.

  • Mackie

    Hi Pip!

    How things have changed – not always for the better!
    Very traditional primary school. Desks in a straight line and blackboards as you say. Large blackboard rulers too. We had a thermometer which hung next to the blackboard and which was read every day. I used to long to be the thermometer monitor but never was.
    I remember the corner at the front because I was often sent there for talking. I think I knew every mark in the wall there, naughty girl! You hoped the teacher didn’t tell you to see her after the lesson as this could have most undesirable consequences!
    Crayons kept in boxes. I can remember getting one box out of the cupboard and the whole thing spilt all over the floor. Had to pick them all up with a very red face.
    There was a pencil sharpener but we weren’t allowed to use it. Only the teacher who sharpened our pencils for us. Spoilsport!
    Never played ‘laggy’ but played ‘tag’ and ‘skip rope’. One variation of tag was ‘tag off ground’ where you couldn’t be tagged if you were standing on something. Got told off by the caretaker for standing on the roof of the boiler house while playing it. Miserable man! He took my name and I spent rest of day dreading what was going to happen, but nothing did!
    We had glue pots but most of it seemed to end up on my fingers. Took ages to get it off. If it went on your blouse your mum wasn’t pleased as she had to get it off.
    I didn’t like ladybird books too much as I enjoyed reading books with far more words in them but some of them were good for reference. Loved the William stories about that naughty boy!
    We did try national savings because everybody else seemed to do it but mum soon deemed it a waste of time and money. She opened an account for me at the local building society.
    I didn’t like school dinners much but did enjoy the steamed puddings but not the semolina. I remember putting salt in a boy’s semolina for a laugh and seeing his face when he tasted it. Unfortunately our teacher didn’t think it was so funny!
    I didn’t have a bag of marbles but used to join in sometimes with the boys and borrow theirs. I used to bet them I could beat them. I did collect conkers though at the conker season. I have no idea why schools ban it these days as I have never seen anyone hurt playing a game of conkers. I used to lose my temper with the boys as they used to cheat.
    We did go on trips occasionally with all of us in a bus. I do remember quite a few kids being sick on the bus especially on the way home when we were all stuffed with food which wasn’t good for us.
    The school was really strict but fair and most times were happy. I think it’s because times were simpler. Kids didn’t seem to have the psychological ‘problems’ then they appear to now. If you misbehaved you were punished and that was an end of it. You got over it and got on with life. You just hoped your mum didn’t find out how naughty you’d been!

    • Pip

      Thank you so much for your lovely reply. Wow, you’ve brought back memories for me too reading this. I agree with you about school being alot simpler than it is now. More opportunites for doing creative stuff. Which all children love I remember.

  • Gillian Mellström.

    Thanks Pip!
    It’s really lovely to see things I’d almost forgotten about! I try to explain to our daughters how it was “back in the day” but nothing beats seeing it with your own eyes!
    Thanks for the lovely memories! 🤗 x

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