Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Being a scholarship girl!

Yesterday in my brief blog on grammar schools I mentioned in passing that I had not been very happy at school. This was an understatement.
My mums reluctance to allow me to go meant that even when she was over ruled she was never interested in making my life in school conform to anything normal.
Thankfully it was just after the war. Clothes were still rationed. Because of this there was a school shop where second hand clothes could be bought.
Mine were always very old, very battered and bottle green!
This shade is one I would never now wear...it brings back memories of teasing that were in fact painful.
I was always badly dressed!
My school shirts were often dirty. I only had one so I washed it by hand on Saturday and often wore it un ironed on Monday. The cotton fabric never lost its creases! I got teased unmercifully...
The teasing ranged from friendly jokey remarks to extremely unkind observations . Us scholarship girls bore the brunt of that status....we were poor, no one mentioned our cleverness...
I got my own back in the classroom. I always knew the meaning of difficult words...I had been reading for a long time!
This of course made my status as dirty scholarship girl even more difficult!
I had friends of course. Two.
The teachers at my school ranged from very kind and encouraging to extremely sarcastic and unpleasant.
The PE teachers came into the second category. We had to take off all our clothes after PE to go through the showers...the remarks about my underwear hurt more than any others. I spent much of my time ashamed and trying to hide my bottle green knickers! They were dirty and full of holes!
Looking back I realise that this period of my life has meant that clothes have always been important to me...and I now have far too many!
The head teacher and the deputy head of my grammar school were kind and realised some of the problems for us scholar ship girls...they made life bearable...but only just.
I'm still grateful for the education though...




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3 comments:

  1. I was from a one parent home and was delighted to pass the 11+ as I had been threatened with severe bullying if I had to go to my local Secondary Modern.
    I went to school in short trousers, made from an uncle´s cast off long trousers, and often had a cardboard insert in my shoes to cover the hole in the sole.
    Free school meals at my Grammar School were a God send. We ate every scrap and went back for seconds.
    Most teachers were VERY supportive, but one PE teacher was a bully, and an English teacher always failed me in tests because of my hand writing.
    Getting a full University maintenance grant (£312 pa) was the icing on my educational opportunity.
    I worry about the chances of University education for many young people from similar backgrounds.

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    1. We have a lot in common Bob. I particularly liked the cardboard in my shoes.....it got very soft in wet weather!
      I also worry about young people having to pay fees...education should be free.

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  2. So many things that you describe, echo in my own memories. Brought up, after coming out of five years in care, by our single parent, bad tempered father.

    Poor home life, matched by a poor school life. Second hand clothes and so much more. Undernourised in terms of food and parental care, compassion and love.

    I scored well on the 11 plus, and had a choice of Technical School or Grammar. I got neither as bus travel to the nearest was unaffordable (he insisted it had to be a Catholic school) and the cost of uniforms was outside our budget. I ended up in a secondary modern, which was a two mile walk each way, and that merged twice with other schools onto new sites during my time there. I left at 15 as I wanted to find work, have some money of my own and some independence. I got a job working as a Telegram boy with the post office in Central London - and the world opened up before me. I could afford to buy my own clothes, eat what I wanted and planning escape was underway. Within 18 months I had applied for the Army and accepted. I had to wait until I was 17 to join 'Mans' service as an adult, and my father signed the paperwork - surprisingly, happy to get me off his hands.

    I never looked back. I still don't have any academic qualifications from school, but have a Masters level professional qualification in Leadership and Management and membership of four professional institutes from the in-service education that the Army gave me. They also gave me education to GCE A level standard, through their Certificate of Army Education scheme.

    Life hasn't been easy, but as an adult, far better than a troubled childhood.

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