Back to school. It’s a phrase that brings joy to some people, but sadness to others. In our house it’s a mixed bag. I was a bit of a swot at school and loved it. So far, with his foundation stage completed, N is enjoying his school days. But the OH in contrast wasn’t a fan because he just wanted to be at home on the farm.
In Marks and Spencer’s #MySchoolYears campaign, they’re celebrating school and uniform through the generations starting way back in the 1920s.
My mum’s school days were mixed because with a dad in the air force, they travelled around a lot. They lived abroad – in Jordan, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia, and then back in the UK on air bases – RAF Lynham and Binbrook before she did her older school years in Grimsby. I never knew much about her school days, although she was still in contact with some 6th form friends before she died. Her back to school days would have been mid year as well as at the start of the school year. And would have meant going to new schools every few years, and making new friends.
I love looking back at my own school days, and those of my mum. Now I can compare to N’s and how different school is – from the 50s and 60s through to the 80s and 90s when I was at school. Unfortunately I’ve mislaid (hopefully not lost) my childhood photo albums so looking back at old school photos are limited to my older school days.
No first day shot of me, although I can still see the picture in my mind – grey skirt, pale blue shirt, grey jumper, pageboy haircut and Little Miss satchel bag. Oh yes and my younger brother photo-bombing several of the pictures taken!
Even 35 years later I can remember eating jelly for pudding in the school hall at my first primary school in Windsor. And bizarrely Vimto. I’m presuming that was from a child who had a packed lunch rather than the school serving it to us in the standard blue school beakers that every school had.
When I was 7 we moved and my new primary school didn’t have a mandatory school uniform. But I was a little bit straight laced, and wanted to wear it, so my later photos have all the other children in random casual clothes, and me prim and proper in skirt, shirt and tie in the school colours. I do remember traditional summer dresses being worn by more girls and not just me though.
I still opted for school lunches – I was a fan of semolina, cabbage, chocolate rock cake with pink custard. In fact I liked pretty much everything on the menu. But it was definitely old school traditional meals rather than the healthier options they have today.
This is all in total contrast to school uniforms of today where so many schools wear sweatshirts and polo shirts. Although all schools I can think of near us have uniforms.
On N’s first day he wasn’t playing ball with a standard pose. Nope, I got the bottom wiggle and random dancing on the front door step! Thankfully by the end of reception pose, he was happy to stand still where I asked.
Apart from the official school jumper and t shirt he has to wear, the bottom half are traditional school trousers or shorts. With so many retailers now offering school uniforms at a variety of prices, it’s hard to know where to shop at first. But having tried about 6 different shops when buying first time round for N, I ended up buying Marks and Spencer trousers. He needed a slimmer fit because most shops regular fit seemed massive round the hips with too much fabric. And the fabric in so many shops is hard and feels horrible. In contrast, the M&S trousers felt softer and had a range of fits and pleat or flat fronts. The trousers also lasted him all year without any rips or tears, so I was impressed. It’s definitely M&S trousers for us for school.
School lunches are very different nowadays. Schools have nut free zones, something that would never have happened when I was at school. I don’t even recall knowing anyone with a food allergy back then. N has the free hot lunches that the government allows for his age, and will be continuing to have them once I need to start paying. With me at work, it’s so much easier than packed lunches and saves me needing to cook a hot meal for him after work.
The way I plan for back to school is the same my mum would have done for me:
- Ask around for new school logo jumper/t shirt handmedowns
- Check what uniform will be needed for the new school year well in advance (check out when the offers are running)
- Buy the next size up in readiness because they will be out of stock or not have the range available when you do need it
- Order new PE kit if needed
- Buy shoes towards the end of the holidays, but not too late.
- Ensure everything is labelled
- Get a new water bottle and any other items that are needed.
- Enjoy the last week of the holidays – we tend to go away for a few days, then add in some playdates to get back into school friend mode.
I wonder if in years to come N will look back at his school days having loved them as I did. And remembering his back to school days when he’s getting his own children ready for school.
Disclosure: This post has been written as part of Marks and Spencer’s #MySchoolYears campaign and has been compensated. All words and opinions are my own.