High school – the golden years where friendships were formed, lessons were learned (both moral and educational), and you were shaped into the adult you've become. If you went to a massive comprehensive school (for the older amongst us, we're thinking Grange Hill!) , some of these might be familiar...


1. School buses

School bus etiquette was crucial – there were unspoken seating plans that, as a newbie, you had to learn pretty quickly if you wanted to survive. Bullies at the back, cool kids and smokers upstairs, and geeks downstairs at the front, as close to the driver as possible where you could make a swift exit if need be.

School kids on bus


2. Uniform

Pushing the boundaries of the school uniform at comprehensive school was a necessity – ridiculously short ties, even shorter skirts, untucked shirts and six-inch heels. And you’d find it hilarious when you saw kids from the local posh schools wearing their straw hats and perfectly pressed blazers.

3. PE

Half the PE lesson consisted of setting up the equipment ready to play, then putting it away again at the end. Sometimes, you’d be told to bring your own equipment – no need for the school to buy dumbbells when each kid can bring in two tins of baked beans from home to use as ready-made weights!

Box of tins


4. Music lessons

Music teachers had their work cut out trying to get bored kids to have any interest in Mozart and the difference between a harmony and a melody. Equipment was scarce – the whole class would take it in turns to have a five-minute go on the keyboard, while everyone else was given a glockenspiel or a wooden block to ‘experiment with rhythms’.

5. School trips

Kids on school trip in London


School trips weren’t for everyone. Any long-distance trips (particularly to London) normally consisted of the specially selected pupils who knew how to behave, while the rest stayed behind. And you’d be repeatedly reminded that you were ‘representing the school’ whenever it looked like anyone was getting too excitable.

6. Class size

The good thing about massive classes in comprehensive schools is that there was always someone to hide behind, and there’s less chance of being made to read out loud in class with so many others to choose from. But it’s quite tricky trying to share one textbook between a table of five people.

7. School dinners

Queueing for school dinners, as you bustled your way to the front you’d hear the dull tones of the dinner lady giving you the options. “Sandwich or chips?” “Chips”. “Sandwich or chips?” “Chips”. There were only ever two options, but you still had to be reminded of the choices.

Plate of chips


8. Pregnancy

By Year 10 or 11, someone had normally left because they were pregnant. This would always cause huge ‘who’s the daddy’ gossip, and even more joy when the little one got brought in to show the class!

9. Technology

Metal work, woodwork, electronics…all things that, as a girl, chances are you won’t use ever again. When are you ever going to need to know how to make a metal bolt from scratch? The technology classrooms were notoriously cold, and for every lesson you’d spend creating part of your project, you’d spend another lesson doing it again after it’d been stolen/lost from the project box. Nothing ever got finished!

School technology lesson


10. Fights

This was the most exciting thing that could happen at lunchtime. Cries of ‘FIGHT!’ resonating around the playground, and everyone would stampede towards the rumoured fight spot. Often you’d get there and a teacher had already broken it up, but you’d still get a thrill from the chase.

11. Toilets

You’d soon learn which ‘bogs’ to steer clear of – the ones where the smokers loitered every lunchtime, and you’d be glared at and asked if you were going to snitch if you ever dared go in. You’d find ‘Lisa 4 Ben 4eva IDST’ (or something less complimentary) plastered on the backs of all the toilet doors.

Graffiti around a sink


Can you think of any more? Let us know in the comments…