Retro: Memories of South Yorks schooldays

School children in class - 1980s''pupils
School children in class - 1980s''pupils
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Ahh, schooldays, the best days of your life, many of us were told as youngsters by those old enough to know better.

What a depressing thought, your best days long gone and only the drudgery of adulthood to look forward to!

Overcrowded classrooms - 28th March 1969''school children'pupils

Overcrowded classrooms - 28th March 1969''school children'pupils

SATs tests, primary school homework and the pressures of Ofsted inspections have also done away with some of those carefree aspects of schooldays, although a glance through The Star’s weekly Class Act education supplement shows that plenty of imagination goes into lessons these days.

As teenagers are anxiously awaiting their A-level results this week, we look back at schooldays gone by.

Formal education in Sheffield is thought to go back more than 500 years. The Canons of Beauchief Abbey are said to have taken on a teacher in 1490 to instruct boys and novices in grammar and singing. One of the earliest recorded Sheffield schools is mentioned in the books of the Church Burgesses, when a Mr Yonge obtained a licence to keep a school in 1564.

In 1604, Thomas Smith left £30 per year for running a free grammar school. Permission for the school was granted by King James I and he gave instructions that it should be called the King James Grammar School.

Some of the pupils in the infants class at the new Dobcroft Primary School, Millhouses, obviously enjoying their 'schooling' and having a smashing time during their play period - 13th January 1969

Some of the pupils in the infants class at the new Dobcroft Primary School, Millhouses, obviously enjoying their 'schooling' and having a smashing time during their play period - 13th January 1969

When the Education Act was passed in 1870, bringing in compulsory schooling, the first school to be built in England under the Act was Newhall School at Attercliffe in 1873.

In the same year, Broomhall School was opened, quickly followed by Netherthorpe and Philadelphia.

The Central Schools followed in 1880. They consisted of an infants’ school, a junior school, a separate school for standards V and VI and a higher school which was to give secondary education without actually saying so, as the Sheffield School Board did not then have full legal powers.

The Higher School is claimed to have been the first secondary school to be opened by a school board in England. Both boys and girls were admitted by examination from all the elementary schools administered by the Board.

Some of the pictures on these pages show new primary schools that opened in 1969 – one is Dobcroft Primary in Millhouses and the other is at Rawmarsh.

One recurring problem shown by the pictures is overcrowding in classrooms. This was also happening in 1969 and Coit Primary School in Chapeltown was suffering in May 1994.

Ironically, one of the new schools, Dobcroft, was a later sufferer.

In 2003, The Star education correspondent Mike Russell asked if Dobcroft was Sheffield’s most overcrowded school.

He reported that “more than 400 pupils are crammed into a school originally designed for just 240. A quarter of the children are taught in so-called temporary classrooms – which have been on site for at least 20 years.”

He noted that class sizes could be as high as 52, although taught by two teachers. The school’s answer was to cut its new intakes – and Hallam MP Richard Allan also called for the school, which is in a popular catchment area, to be extended.

n Let us know at Retro if you spot yourself on these pages or if you have some good tales or pictures of your schooldays.

n This Saturday’s 12-page Retro supplement will take a look at Sheffield in August 1914, remembers some long-lost pubs and reveals the origins of the strange Sheffield place name of Carsick.