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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Burston Strike School Talk

We went to Burston Primary School this afternoon. A lady called Mrs May came to tell us all about how life used to be when she was at school. 
Mrs May went to Burston school but it was very different to how it is today. We heard about the old style wooden desks and a big jug of ink that was poured out for each child to write with.

Mrs May loved reading and said her mum thought reading was very good too. She would be excused from doing household chores if her mum found her reading. Mrs May told us she was very ill as a young child and hadn't been able to start school until she was six. Her father told her lots of stories that the Higdon's had read to the school children.

We asked Mrs May some questions. We asked about the desks in the classrooms. Mrs May said they had lift up lids and they could hide things in them.
A typical school day went like this. 
Line up silently.
Enter into school - everyone in the same class.
The piano would be played and children would sing.
Then there was a prayer.
Children went to their separate classes.
Maths lesson was learning the times tables.
Playtime was signalled by a rattling from outside, it was the milkman. Everyone had to drink a bottle of milk. In the autumn the milk tasted funny because the cows had been fed sugar beet. So Mrs May sneaked pepper mints into her mouth so she couldn't taste the milk. In the winter the milk would be frozen.
A fire would be burning in each classroom which kept them warm.
After playtime a whistle would be blown and everyone came in.
Then it was writing time which was hard and messy with the ink. They had special blotting paper which. They had to use to soak up the ink. If you made a mistake you had to start again. 
Lunch was lovely, Mrs May's favourite was chocolate pudding.
In the afternoon they always had adding for half an hour. 
Then it would be art or PE and Mrs May enjoyed this more.
Most people walked to and from school every day, people did not. Come to school in cars. The school was very clean. 

At home Mrs May lived on a farm and she had horses that were used for farming not riding.

We asked about punishments. Sometimes you would be kept in at playtime and some children got the cane. Mrs May never had the cane. Some people had to write lines. Mrs May's parents were very kind and never got smacked. Sometimes she would get told off and have to stay indoors.

We asked about the strike school. Mrs May's parent and aunts and uncles were taught by the Higdon's. Mrs Higdon was very kind. Some families at school were very poor and didn't have spare clothes or shoes to wear if they got wet. She would buy them new shoes and dry their clothes by the fire.
Mr Higdon could be quiet strict but he was still kind.
During the strike, the children were expected to come to the new school but the children decided not to and they went and had their lessons on the green. Later on, a kind man called blind Ambrose had a big shed with an upstairs and he let them use the shed to have their lessons.

Mrs May held up some old money, we saw some half crowns dated 1914. It was the same as 55p in today's money. It was one weeks wages for a man in 1914. The money had to pay for everything the family needed. A loaf of bread cost more than a half crown. When the children went on strike, the parents were fined money for breaking the law which left them with even less money. Luckily lots of kind people paid the fines for them.

We really enjoyed listening to Mrs May. Thank you very much.


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