MARCH 13 should be a day to remember —not only for Skegness County Infants School but also for a local octogenarian.
It is the 82nd birthday of Mrs Phyllis Huckerby, who now lives in Winthorpe, but was one of the pupils of the school in its infancy.
And she has been invited to be a special guest on that day at the school’s own celebration when there will be a big birthday cake in honour of both.
The oldest part of the school, which fronts on to Cavendish Road, was completed in 1908 and opened in 1910 so is probably the oldest school in Skegness.
But with exciting plans in the pipeline to remodel the school and to build a new classroom block, the open day has been arranged so that the people of Skegness who attended the school can take a last look in the oldest part before it is demolished.
Staff and pupils will really be getting into the spirit of the occasion by dressing up in Edwardian clothing for the day. There will also be a display of artefacts including old children’s desks from the Church Farm Museum in Skegness and demonstrations of old world crafts such as spinning and weaving.
It is hoped that lots of ex-pupils and teachers will take this
opportunity to join in a last tour of the school as it stands today and share their experiences with the children and staff.
Headteacher Mrs Judith Drakes outlined the plans which will start to unfold this summer. “We are retaining the old junior school building mainly as administrative offices and classrooms with practical areas. Six new classrooms will then be built around a central courtyard.
She also spoke about the school’s new nursery unit which will open in September with 78 part-time places for three to four year olds: “This is excellent news, we are so delighted about it.”
Work is expected to start early in the summer on the nursery at the former Nottingham girls holiday home in Brunswick Drive which has been part of the school since four-year-olds were admitted. This building will be brought up to modern standards, both indoors and out in the playground areas.”It is really exciting that it is going to happen in time for September,” Mrs Drakes added.
This will be followed by work on the remodelling and extension with the old building making way for landscaped gardens with places for children to sit as well as three play areas for each of the year groups, an environmental area with a pond and, of course, bright modem classrooms.
82-year-old Mrs Huckerby started school in 1918 when she was four and a half years old and in those days they didn’t wear a uniform.
There were 18 children in each class and they wrote on slates with chalk. They had no toys and no paper to draw on, but would cut pictures out of a book to stick on the walls.
When they were naughty they had to stand by the teacher’s blackboard which was on wheels. If they were very naughty they were hit with a cane. The children and teachers went home for their dinner.
The toilets which were outside were called Petty’s, there was no toilet paper, only newspaper.
Mrs Huckerby said the school had changed, although the window was still the same. She said the playground was much smaller and when it rained the children played in the corridor.
There was no radiator just a fire, where the bookcase is, and Mrs Huckerby remembers it used to be very cold.
THE school is brighter and more colourful than when Mr Hawkins was here. The headmistress was Miss Jeffries and his favourite teacher was Miss Bowler.
He liked sums, stories, singing and painting, they painted on brown paper. He didn’t like reading or spelling.
They wrote with chalk and there were no computers or television, but they listened to the radio.
Mr Hawkins liked to play cowboys and Indians and the girls played skipping.
He drew a cricket bat on the wall for the children to play cricket. Mr Hawkins said they didn’t wear a uniform.
THE Mayor Clir Holland came here in 1931, he said they had desks which opened at the top. The teacher had a stick and he remembers being hit with it.
He recognised the sink and radiators and said there used to be a coal fire but no fire exit. The school also had a library.
All the children did PE and dancing, the girls sewing and the boys cookery. Mr Holland said he liked history.
They didn’t have as many toys as us and no bright pictures on the walls. They had no crayons only pastels and the colouring paper was rough. They used pen and ink for writing.
Mr Holland said the children used to take flowers for the teacher.
MRS Sleath who taught the reception class started in 1952 and retired 20 years ago. She said there were more than 40 children to a class.
The children didn’t have felt tip pens, they used chubby stumps, they also drew letter patterns on the blackboard.
If they got their work right they were given gold or silver stars, if they were naughty they had to stand in the corner.
They had lots of books and toys and drew pictures to put on the walls, they also had tidy boxes to keep their work in.
The toilets were outside and when it snowed the pipes froze.
The children played games at playtime, one of these was ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf?’ They each had a small bottle of milk with a straw, and the teacher had a cup of tea.
At Christmas the children were treated to a film show and an ice cream. Mrs Sleath said she enjoyed teaching the children and was very happy at the school.