My Day at Barnwood Park
8.15am Breakfast: The school opens early so pupils can actually sit down to a cooked breakfast.
8.30am Uniform: There’s no sign of the pelmets that passed for skirts in the early 1970s. Mrs Tufnell has made it quite clear she expects a respectable distance between hemlines and ties have to knotted at the neck, not the chest. My uniform passes muster but I hand in a note excusing me from PE – you can’t put someone three years off a bus pass into gym knickers without frightening the kids half to death.
8.50am Maths: Instead of 42 kids sitting in rows listening to Mrs Mckay drone on, she has us working together in groups using different colour shapes in a tray to make equations. Thank goodness I’m sitting next to Will who seems to know what to do.
9.40am Science: Miss Godding is demonstraing how to make red, yellow and blue power balls so we can measure the height of each bounce and test if the amount of chemical added to slime makes a difference.
10.30am Break: Pupils often use the 20 minute break to eat tubs of potato wedges so they can enjoy lunchtime clubs without going hungry. Cake is being sold in a corridor to raise money for charity.
10.50am Drama: Miss Knight tells me we will be learning about Commedia Dell’arte – not a type of milky coffee but a style of comic drama that originated in Italy.
11.10am Music: Mr Pugh clearly doesn’t know about the curious incident of the cat in the choir because he invites me to join a singing lesson.
11.25am Dance: As someone with the ability to make Theresa May look like a cross between Darcey Bussel and Shakira, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t asked for that note about PE. You don’t need rhythm for netball, running and jumping.
11.40am English: It’s English so the pressure’s on. The pupils start by reading to themselves. I don’t have a book so I share Riley’s David Walliams’ tome which takes me straight back to the days when everything provided by the school was “one between two”.
12.30pm Lunch: The canteen is all cashless finger recognition which means the kids can’t use their dinner money at the nearest chippie. There’s a careers fair in the hall and former pupils have come back looking all grown up in their new sixth form uniforms.
1.15pm Personal and Social Development: I’ve read that there’s no hold’s barred in today’s PSD lessons so I am relieved when Mrs Biles announces we are learning about water safety. It is all a far cry from Lonely Water, the menacing public information film voiced by Donald Pleasance.
2.05pm Futures: Mrs Foster, head of Year 7, needs to make sure pupils return from half term knowing the most important piece of information in secondary education 2018. Their computer password.
2.55pm LRT: As someone too old for HRT I still can’t tell you what LRT stands for, but I can take a punt on it being what we called revision. Having nearly been dobbed in for chewing gum, I finally realise my 1970s school days were not in vain – thanks to accommodation I get 15 out of 15 in the spelling test.
3.15pm Home time: I’m too exhausted for any after school activities.