Although we lived in Wellesbourne, my brother and I started at Ashorne School in the Michaelmas Term 1972. Our mum used to drop us off on the way to work. My brother started in the infant class and I started in the juniors. I had been to Wellesbourne infant school beforehand. Discipline was more in evidence at Ashorne though!
The school building itself was very compact. The main room was the junior classroom. There was a sink unit in one corner and a piano. Across the room from that was a large, white fitted cupboard where stationery and board games were stored. The board games tended to be used if it was a wet breaktime and we could not go outside. Around the walls were bookcases, the students’ drawers and cupboards holding more stationery and books. Next to the school’s front entrance, was the cloakroom. There was also the loft entrance to the clock tower, not that I ever went up there! The floor in the cloakroom was lined with old fashioned tiles, whereas the floor in the junior classroom was polished wood.
Next to the junior classroom was a small annexe which formed a kitchenette. The meals were not cooked on the premises, but came from Coten End in Warwick – their palatability did vary somewhat! If you had seconds of the first course, you had to eat all of your second course and vice versa. So that was always a bit of a chance which you took. I remember once they sent us a dixie can (which presumably should have contained potatoes) half full of petrol!
Next to the junior classroom on the other side was the infants’ classroom. All the facilities, ie. lavatories, were outside, in between the main building and playground. The playground was all tarmac. I do remember that there was a square depression in about the middle of the playground which covered a water well. If you put your ear to it and rapped it with your knuckles you could make out from the sound that it was wood under the (obviously) thin layer of tarmac. Around two sides of the playground was a brick wall, keeping back a bank of soil. It did list somewhat alarmingly in places! Obviously when the playground was first built, they must have dug it square out of a bank. A game which we used to play some breaktimes was, “higher and higher”. We would tie one end of a long skipping rope to some metal railings at the side of the playground. Then the dinner lady, who was on playground duty, would gradually raise it whilst we tried to jump over it.
During the summer a tennis net was put across the playground for us to play tennis. I do remember that there was an old wooden shed, with a faded green door, in one corner of the playground. What was in there I do not know. I never remember it being open the entire time that I was there!
The main, junior classroom doubled as a lot of things. We all had assembly there first thing in the morning. The head mistress would play the piano so that we could sing hymns. One thing which I do remember is that the piano always seemed to be getting re-tuned, which was okay by us. The piano tuner needed absolute quiet, so we did not get any lessons!
At dinner times we had to rearrange the desks so that they became dining tables. There was a sort of an exercise class called, “Music and Movement” once a week over the radio. We had to clear all of the desks and tables away to create enough room. There was a big square wooden radio which we used to listen to radio programmes on, which later got replaced by a more modern radio. The programmes always used to be on BBC Radio Four for Schools. There was a religious themed one on a Thursday morning. Some other ones were, “Singing together” (my dad could remember that one from his junior school days in the ’30s), “Time and Tune”, a couple of poetry ones and some drama plays. I used to love those, because it was purely audio, you had to use your imagination to visualise it.
The normal school day after assembly started with some short English exercise called, “Word work”, followed by some short mathematics exercises called, “Five/Six/Seven a Day”. Then we had maths proper (not my strongest subject!) out of either Alpha or Beta maths books. If you survived that, you had English proper. After dinner you had either history or geography.