On Friday 21st May, we had a very special person come in to visit us at OPA. Her name is Betty and she had one wish on her 90th birthday (7th February) – to visit the primary school she attended as a young girl. Betty was born (1931) in the house opposite our school.
A lot has changed since she attended school here. The school wasn’t called Oaks Primary Academy, it was Mangravet School. At the age of 5, Betty joined ‘Mangravet School’ .
We spoke with Betty about different aspects of school that have changed between now and then. In Betty’s time, they didn’t have any uniform because they were poor: they didn’t have money to buy uniforms. Nowadays, we do have uniforms that we are proud of.
Instead of fountain pens like we have in Year 6, they used to have a pen and a separate inkwell in their desk to dunk their pen in. Their desk lids lifted up so that items could be stored there. Now we’ve got plastic trays to slide under our desks.
Betty’s school day was from 9-12pm and then 2-4pm. All pupils went home for their lunch. We would love a two-hour lunch break!
One thing that we are glad has changed is the punishment for misbehaving. Back in Betty’s day, you would have got a wooden ruler across the backs of your legs.
During her time here, Betty loved to sing and was good at it too, explaining that she was chosen to sing in Canterbury Cathedral on St. George’s Day – only the best singers were chosen.
Performances like this stopped when WW2 began. There was an air raid shelter built in our school field. (It’s still there but it can’t be accessd.) Betty described there being two long rows of benches on either side: there were no desks. On hearing the air raid siren, pupils would go down there until they heard the second siren to signal that it was safe. Being in the shelter didn’t mean their education concluded for the day. To pass the time, pupils would sing their times tables and other songs. Once, they had to stay there until 7pm!
In the playground, there weren’t any toys for pupils to play with so Betty would play games like hopscotch and she would also skip. One rule for hopscotch was that the chalk had to be washed away at the end of every day.
During the day, boys and girls would learn different things. Girls would focus on cooking and sewing and boys got to do the usual learning. Both girls and boys get equal opportunities for all learning now.
Our visit from Betty was extremely interesting and we are looking forward to welcoming her back.
Written by Year 6, OPA