When I started teaching 30 years ago……..

I started my professional career in teaching on 8th July 1991 at a West London comprehensive school and I was thinking….



When I started teaching:

  • Kids stood up in the Hall when the Head walked in to start an assembly.
  • The Headteacher in my first school always taught a GCSE class, turned up to department meetings, wrote reports etc. Just to keep his toe in the water.
  • Some staff would go down the pub at lunch every day, without fail. The Clay Pigeon used to take a copy of the TES on a Friday from the news agent as so many staff went there at lunchtime on that day
  • Every parents evening you were served a hot meal before the appointments started or alternatively you could claim travel expenses for a return journey to and from home.
  • Wine was always served at all INSET day lunches.
  • Reports were written by hand once a year on A5 carbon paper for each student.
  • The form tutor report also had space for a comment from Head of Year and the Head Teacher too. The Head wrote a comment about every kid in the school every year.
  • UCAS was done by hand. If you wanted to write a reference (by hand) on a student you went to the school file, which if you were lucky had a few clumps of year reports in it on hard to read carbon paper to use for background info.
  • WORD had only one font option.
  • Computers were not networked, they were pushed around class rooms on trolleys
  • Chalk was king
  • You could smoke in the staff room
  • Registers were filled in by hand simply with a ‘/’ or ‘O’ with red and black ink
  • You could tell off an unruly student and they would stand there and take a good verbal whelping. You could have it out with them without having a ‘time out’ card waved in your face, or the kid simply walking off away from you because they ‘had issues’.
  • You differentiated by getting brighter kids to copy out more than their less able peers.
  • It hardly ever snowed. One change for the better.
  • The Borough minibus test consisted of backing out the minibus onto the school car park from its garage, driving to Sainsburys across the road, turning round and coming back the long way round the block. Providing you did not curb the bus turning left on the way back you passed. It did not involve waiting till you were 26 and having to pay £2k for the training course and test.
  • Mini buses had no power steering and PE teachers had arms like Popeye.
  • The staff football team had a better kit than the students.
  • A three part lesson Period 5 most days was as follows: shout at the kids, copy out, and put the stools up at the end.
  • Students used my digital scales to check the mass of their lucky pennies, as drug dealers had not yet done the analogue to digital switch. The pennies were used to measure out the set weight of puff on pan scales
  • INSET days were called “Baker” days after the Government minister who took a week off our holidays and made us come into work instead.
  • I regularly played football with a year 11  group if their PE lesson coincided with one of my free periods.
  • Free Periods were free, not “Non-contact time”


    • andy daly

      And when you wrote your reports, they were in language parents and pupils understood. Not a series of bogus ‘competencies’, can/can’t do statements or edu-speak that leaves people more confused than when they started.

      • samthegas

        Not to mention, “predicted”, “estimated”, “target”, “aspirational”,”minimum”, “Current”, “teacher assessed” Grades. That leave you at parents evenings to explain in plain speak if the student in question is doing ok, because that is what they want to hear.

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