Memories of sport at school

From jumping over benches in the school hall aged 6 to flaying about on mud-laden fields aged 13, sport at school involved all manner of challenges, some to be fondly remembered some best forgotten.

Here we take a trip down memory lane and reminisce about school PE lesions. Does this resonate with you?


It was generally the class teacher in primary schools who took the sport or P.E. sessions. There was lots of bean bag throwing, hoop-jumping, skipping and in the 1950s ‘Music and Movement’ to radio broadcasts run by the School Broadcasting Council.

In contrast, senior school teachers were qualified in or had a distinct interest in either gymnastics or games. During the 40s and 50s, many of them had come from military stock with a leaning towards barking orders and strict discipline.

Sports Kit

Sports kit in Primary schools was virtually non-existent, it was usual for children to just do P.E. in their underclothes and bare feet for inside or plimsoles for out in the playground.

Senior schools usually had designated kit, commonly shorts and tops or Aertex shirts and big knickers for girls, with certainly no tracksuits allowed!

The Dreaded Rope Climb

It seemed you could either climb a rope or you couldn’t. Not sure there was any tuition and even less sure to this day how this skill is required!

Whatever the weather

Primary children were sent outside to play whatever the weather but if it were really unpleasant sports, more often than not, were moved indoors into the school hall.

Senior school children were not so lucky. Freezing cold, rain and even snow did not stop games lessons. British children were sent out in any type of weather to play on the field or pitch, often returning with numb fingers and toes.

Communal changing

Probably some of the most cringeworthy of memories, especially for adolescents, were the communal changing and shower facilities. Whether you were amazing at sport or your talents lay in other areas, the one thing most children had in common was hatred of the dreaded showers. Facilities were functional but terribly basic and sometimes cold too. It certainly wasn’t a place to hang around.

Did you enjoy sports at school? Do you think children have it easy today? What are your memories?

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Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

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