Mixed memories of classroom days

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Best years of your life? I’m not so sure nowadays.

Of course, I’m talking about school and that glib quote that is banded about whenever the older generation – not me I hasten to add – start having a go at today’s youth.

As the schools prepare to go back, it’s time for many families to start getting all the gear ready and the pens, pencil and lunchbox organised.

It’s usually early to bed the night before the big first day back and, for some, the job of dragging them up to the school entrance. And that’s only the teachers!

No, I’m joking. My friends who are teachers, once they’ve got out of the habit of long lies every morning, are usually happy to get back into the routine, work out all the little nuances of the children in their class and plan accordingly for the session ahead.

I don’t think starting school is such a daunting prospect for five-year-olds. The majority have been to nursery for two years, usually in a building attached to the school they will 
attend so it’s really only like moving on to the next stage rather than a huge new experience.

They are also lucky that they don’t have to suffer the morning milk routine. Parents and politicians decried Maggie Thatcher for snatching the third of a pint that children had ‘enjoyed’ since after the Second World War.

But I’ve always thought that most youngsters were quite glad not to be made to drink the bottle of milk that had usually become warm from sitting under the blackboard for most of the morning. I’m sure it had lost some of its health qualities by almost turning sour!

Nowadays there seems to much pressure on children to succeed. Yes we seem to have a generation of youngsters who are much more confident, but I always wonder about the quieter ones – do they get overlooked and left in the shadows of their more outgoing contemporaries.

And, as for the exam system, I have to admit be completely lost.

The teenager at the end of our street was anxiously waiting on the postman last week when I went to work and his mum explained it was results day.

The next time I saw her I remembered to ask how he had got on.

“Oh very well, passed a Nat 4 and all of his Nat 5s. He’s really chuffed,” she said proudly.

I muttered my congratulations but was too embarassed to ask what these were!

When I mentioned this in work someone was able to tell me it was today’s equivalent of Standard Grades.

I shudder to think what they will be called by the time that my gradnchildren are sitting exams.