“Shellsuits if you had science as they were massively flammable” – Star readers share their memories of things being banned at school

Cast your mind back to your days at school, for some of us it may be recent and for others it may seem like aeons ago since we were subject to random bans on things. From candy necklaces to the wrong uniform and so on.

Thursday, 28th April 2022, 5:19 pm

There was a little bit of controversy this week after a young boy was punished for wearing socks with spots on to school. It got us thinking about all of those things that used to be banned while at school. Who better to ask for a list of these contraband items than our readers? Should be a bit of a riot, right? But not an actual riot as those are also banned.

First up we had, Jane Walker who said that her “daughter was suspended from school for her black shoes having a small red label on the back!” Let’s be serious this is a little ridiculous, although it depends on the size of the label. But Jane did say it was small, so we will take her word for it. Hold up, don’t Kickers shoes have the little red tag on them as well? Daft if you ask me.

Mark Goodison lamented the banning of conkers, a true staple of any Autumnal playground all the way up to the early noughties. Apparently they’re banned for health and safety reasons now, but do any of you remember gathering up the conkers each year, treating them in a variety of ways or curing them before creating that perfect hole to put the string through? I remember kids used to pickle them in vinegar to make them softer, paint the outer shell with varnish to make them harder (also massively cheating) and spending hours painstakingly working on their smashing technique, which wasn’t always as “smashing” as they thought.

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“Game boys BANNED"

While we’re on the topic, Kaan Collins answered, “When I was at school? Pogs, we had conker battles though.” Aah Pogs, remember those useless plastic discs that you’d get in bags of crisps? People went crazy over those when I was back in school. I never quite got the whole fascination with them though. But people liked them, so each to their own, eh?

Each school year there’s always something that is innocent and harmless until people get too ‘into it’ and problems arise, from fights over Tamogotchis (remember those?) to Premier League stickers, where people obsessed over collecting all the shinies… for something that was obsolete by the end of the coming May.

Candy necklace on pink pastel colored background. Top view.

Charlotte Haslam replied saying that her school had banned, “Pokémon cards”. If you’ve still got those in decent condition, you may want to check what they’re worth today.

Hayley Mallett recalled that her “school in the 70s didn't have a uniform, the only rules were no raggedy jean hems or bikini tops.” Which is quite understandable really, for a number of reasons, also it’s not like Sheffield is the warmest city in the world.

Speaking of school fashions, Paula Heeley Ezeldine noted that, “Not much was banned as long as you wore the uniform you were ok. I once got sent to office for wearing a pink shirt and socks. Told them my mam washed them with some red knickers (1969).” Ah the old washing with a different coloured item and being subjected to the ridicule of school teachers/masters demanding to know why rules were breached.

Andy Mason says that his school had banned, “Doc Martins”… hold on. What! Why?

"Eating in class room took em of you”

Richard Towndrow commented rather wryly, “Looking back at most of the teachers I would have said.....Education”, ouch… bit of a burn there. You should probably remove some of those full stops there. Teacher will be onto you.

Pam Jones remembers a particular outfit being banned, “Shellsuits if you had science as they were massively flammable and those necklaces with sweets as everyone would be catapulting them at others.” Let’s discuss the shellsuit factor first, one they were a fashion staple in the 90s before being banned after a number of fire related issues, notably around Bonfire Night. And as for those necklaces they were candy necklaces, kids used to bite the sweet in half and retract the stretchy band before launching the sweet at some unsuspecting target. A practice that was often rife on the bus journey home from school, poor little me with my afro hair used to get bits stuck in. It wasn’t cool, not at all. Definitely not bitter about it.

There was also a bit of thing where kids would use the paper wrapping from the straws at McDonalds, chew up the paper and then blow it through the straw like a blow-pipe. I can remember a few people being chinned as a result of being hit by those projectiles, understandable though it was violence is not cool. Not at all.

Natalie Faye recalls that “They took the outside toilet door off at our school to try to stop everyone smoking in the toilets. The issue is it made not one iota of difference as everyone carried on smoking.” Every school has that one area where kids congregate to smoke, be it behind the old bike sheds or in the woodland areas around school fields. But they all vape now don’t they? Blowing those fruity clouds with reckless abandon. Reyt cool.

Martin Jarvis said that he went to “Longley Primary, early 90s. Wasn’t allowed to talk during lunch meal time if you did you were sent out the hall and your dinner would get cold.” Nowadays that would be a public outrage and uproar, with a few naysayers saying it will be the making of that person. Pro-tip, stay out of trouble and your lunch wouldn’t go tepid.

“Long trousers till year 3 of senior school"

One commentor responded with a bit of a truth bomb, Terry Spencer commented that, “Kids learn all about prejudice and discrimination by experiencing it in school.” Fair point, hopefully that is’s not the experience for all of us. Although much of our formative experiences do shape our perspectives on the future. I would also argue we experience much of that in our local communities and at home as well.

For some of us, school did not implement any egregious rules. Case in point being Shelley Eggleston who replied that she was a “Kid of the 70s, never had a uniform throughout my schooling, i also dont recall any stupid rules really.” And this was followed up by Neil Taylor, who said “Nowt, I was a 60s/ 70s schoolkid and we survived just fine.”

Kirsty Wilcock was not pleased, “Wow more bothered about bloody what kids have on to wear than there education don't ya think they been threw enough the last 2 years.” Seems that a few folks agreed with her take too.

As for others, it was a little more strict than that. Mel Machin responded saying that, “Our school was magnificent. Musts included personal tidyness, polite, wearing full school uniform. Silence during assembly each morning and every lesson. We had no detention but if you stepped out of line you received the cane. Depending on the severity you received any number between one and six strokes. If you was very bad you received 6 strokes and your parents were told.” Yikes, perhaps classroom punishment of that sort is better off consigned to history though.

What do you remember being banned when you were at school? Answers on a postcard… or in the comments. Ta.