|Memories of Whitefriars Junior School by Jenny Comont|
Memories of Whitefriars Junior School 1995 - 1999
|I went to Whitefriars Junior School in 1995, moving up from Whitefriars Infant School with most of my friends.
My year 3 teacher was Mrs James and I remember being very confused when she talked about monarchs, because she meant kings and queens, but my family were very interested in nature and I thought of monarch butterflies instead.
We had a set of ten classroom rules:
Reading and Writing
We had to start reading books in groups. We sat at tables according to different ability levels eg 2 red tables for clever children, 2 blue tables for the not so clever and so on. When you did your own reading, you read whatever level book you were on, but for group reading, it was the whole class reading a book, with children and the teacher taking turns at reading out loud. It was usually a Roald Dahl book and I hated them. The teacher kept promising we could read something else but we never did. Sometimes an assistant came in and the whole table had to go out and read to her. Once, we were reading the Indian in the Cupboard and we got told off for finding it too funny and laughing when Kane pronounced Chief as Chef.
Sometimes we had to read to the teacher to test our reading ability.
In Years 5 and 6 we started a new scheme for reading where we had a reading partner from a lower year. To begin with I had a nice, friendly girl for my partner and it was OK but the next year I didn’t get on with my partner and I didn’t enjoy it.
We were supposed to read to our parents at home for five minutes every night and we got certificates if we did it every night for a whole half term. If we did it for the whole year, we got a special gold certificate. The sceme was called Reading is Fun, or RIF for short.
My favourite lesson was History. We learnt about the Egyptians, the Romans and the Vikings. I had to make a model of a Viking long boat as an Easter holiday project. We went to Kentwell Hall and had to dress up as Tudors so we could go through the Time Tunnel.
Because I was supposed to be bright, I was in Mr Threadkill’s group for extension work but I didn’t enjoy it as he gave us lots of homework to do over the Christmas holidays. He dictated a story with words missing that we had to fill in, but he would say “something” for the missing word so we all wrote down “something” when he said it. He made us do homework about Victorian Christmas customs and we had to go to the library to find the information. At the end of the year I got a little bit of paper signed by Mr Threadkill saying that Jenny Comont has attended a course of study designed to extend her learning skills by encouraging the taking of notes at tutorials and independent study as homework. Weekly assignments have been graded and the results below reflect the average for the year - Achievement B, Effort A+
I got my certificates for swimming 10 metres and then 25 metres.You had to tread water for a certain length of time and do different strokes for 25 metres. You also had to go and stand in the middle of the pool and dive down to retrieve a brick.
Sports and Athletics
In summer we played rounders and occasionally tennis and badminton but I was never very good at them.
Other schemes we worked for were the English Schools Athletic Association Awards, sponsored by theTSB Bank, and a Pentathlete Star Award scheme
The races I can remember were sprint, egg and spoon, sack race and obstacle race. There was a long jump too. My friend Frankie was very good at long jump but I was never very good at sports. She went to the District Sports competition at South End school every year, but I never did, though my brothers Richard and David did. I just did things like the egg and spoon race and the obstacle race which weren’t serious races.
In the winter, a large part of the top playground was covered with water from the gutter and it would freeze in cold weather so you could go and slide on it. You would find the majority of the school packed onto this small bit of playground, all sliding. The teachers didn’t like us doing it so you could only really do it before school started.
Other games we played at playtime were:
We played this on the steps near the end of the school. People lined up on the top step and another person stood on the wall calling out letters. If the letter was in your name you moved down a step and the first person to get to the bottom was the winner.
What’s the Time Mr Wolf?
Someone was in the middle as Mr Wolf. Everyone asked him what the time was and he said a number. Everyone moved forwards that number of steps till we were all very close to him when he said “It’s dinnertime” and chased after us. The person he caught was the next Mr Wolf.
Peep Behind the Curtain
This worked best if there was an actual curtain, but there wasn’t in the playground. One person faced the other way and the rest had to walk forward until he turned round and you had to stand still. If he saw you moving, you were out. The winner was the first to get close enough to touch him.
The boys mostly played football so it was mainly girls playing these games, but not exclusively. Girls would sit in huddles talking about girly things too.
I was the first speaker in Year 4 when we were in the Independent Wesleyan Church. We were up in the balcony with a Nativity scene on the stage below us, and one of the shepherds fainted and fell off the stage. We heard a thump and looked down to see him on the floor.
Trips and Visits to the School
We went body boarding and looked for fossils on the beach but we didn’t find any. We visited a glass blowing factory and saw lots of coloured sands. We saw a musical play on the Pier. We went for a walk and lots of us got to the beach before the teachers did so we went in the sea while we waited. When the teachers arrived, the people who hadn’t been brave enough to go in and get wet got given Smarties but the rest of us didn’t. Mr Threadkill kept giving out Smarties when people did good things, but I didn’t get any. We had to keep a diary of what we did during the week. We went on a cable car over a big forest near the beach and one of the teachers was scared of heights but she was with a group of children who started rocking the car and she got very scared.
Lots of people came to visit the school and talk to us about different things. We had an astronaut once to talk about going into space, and a "super sportsman" came when my brothers were at the school. All the children got to have their photo taken with him.
We ate our lunch in the classrooms with dinner ladies watching us to make sure we behaved ourselves.
In years 5 and 6 we became part of Mr Threadkill's monitor system. We were occasionally given a badge and a job to do like running the tuckshop for a week or working in the office (I never did this), or putting the benches out before Assemblies.
There was a branch of Barclays Bank held every Thursday morning in the Hall. It was run by year 6 children with Mr Threadkill supervising them. I took £1 every week to put in my account.
There was a Book Fair every year. People brought in lots of stands with books on them, and we got time out of lessons to look at them all to see if there were any that we wanted to buy. My mum would come in after school one day to pay for the books my brothers and I had chosen. We liked books in our family so there were usually a lot for Mum to buy for us.
The mobile library van came every so often to bring new books for the school library. I got to go on the van and help choose the books once.
The school started holding a Chocolate Raffle. Everyone brought in chocolate and it was all put on tables, according to how big it was. There was all sorts of things from big Easter eggs to small bars of chocolate. Some people always brought in Polo’s. We bought tickets and the raffle was held at the last Assembly before the Easter holidays.
We always made lots of cards Christmas cards, Easter cards and Mother’s Day cards. The school had a special Assembly for Mother’s Day when we handed out little bunches of daffodils to our mums.
We spent a lot of time learning our times tables. We had a sheet with all the tables from 2x to 10x on it and we had to recite them to the teacher or a helper to get bronze, silver and gold stickers as we learnt them. We had to be perfect to get the gold sticker and move on to the next one. When you had got all your gold stickers you moved on to 11x and 12x tables.
We had spelling tests every week but lots of the words were the sort that children of 9 or 10 would never use. When the teacher wrote up eclectic on the board, we all thought she meant electric but she’d spelt it wrongly.
Annual ReportAt the end of each school year we all got a report on how well we had done during the year and what we had studied in each subject. If my brothers and I got a good report, Mum and Dad would buy us a present as a reward.
What Jenny thought of her school in Year 5
When I was in Year 5 as part of the extension work we did with Mr Threadkill, we had to write about what the school was like to tell Year 2 children and their parents as they were in the process of choosing their Junior schools for the folllowing year. This is what I wrote:
I would recommend the school because the teachers are kind and they help you with your work and try to make some lessons fun. The teachers make sure that the school is safe. They can be strict but joke a lot too. One thing I don't like is no day trips out, but people come in sometimes. And another thing is the Assemblies are a bit long.
There are lots of clubs to fit almost all your interests. There are music clubs, dance clubs, a table tennis club and a choir. There are also teams for netball and football which play regular matches against other schools.
If you like books there are book fairs, the book club magazine and you can get a book out of the library each week.
I enjoy going to the school more because there are discos, raffles and parties at Christmas.
There is a Tuck Shop open every first break which sells crisps and when you are in Year 6 you get a chance to run it.
There are a few things that could be better but I like my school and I am sure you would too."
A Typical School Day in 1996
When we were learning about how to tell the time we had to write a description of our day, giving the time when we did everything. This was my day on