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Grammar schools and comprehensives in Birmingham in the 50s and 60s.

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Steve Harpur

Brummie babby
Bilberry Hill : Hello, I drove past there today (Thursday 5 aug. 21) and can confirm that all the windows and doors, are now boarded up with metal sheeting. Cheers......Steve
 

Richard Dye

master brummie
i have found the last few posts very interesting to read but one thing does strike me and that is just how we all in some shape or other helped to keep the world turning...no one person is any better or worse than the next in terms of what jobs we do/did ..everyone plays a part in keeping the wheels of industry/economy turning and obviously some professions take longer than others to perfect..imagine if we all chose the same profession what a pickle we would be in...i have always admired people like eric who went into the motor trade who could no doubt strip down an engine blindfolded and put it back together again and here is me who cant even change a plug lol..one thing is for certain though and that is we all need each other

lyn
Lyn, I am just rereading this thread. And to your point (at least with me) you never know where life takes you. I always want to be an engineer around tools, which lead to manufacturing to factory automation and then to managing a car body plant making bodies for BMW, Mercedes, Honda & Toyota, all premium vehicles. Then to an engine company right out of the blue into global operations. There are so many twists and turns that life gives us, you never really know until you get there!
This is a great thread with many introspective comments!
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
I am another who took the 11+ while still ten and, born in May, started at the Grammar School in September of that year aged 10yrs 4mths. I have often wondered if it worked to my advantage or in the opposite way, but no doubt I shall never know. Perhaps I found sport hard due to being younger but my inability on the cricket pitch had more to do with astigmatism than lack of maturity. Competitive sport came in an easier manner when, rather than a ball, a boat was involved.
 

KRO Brummie

New Member
I passed my 11+ at King’s Heath Junior School in 1961 – one of just 8 in my class of 40+. I selected KE Camp Hill, Moseley Grammar and King’s Heath Tec (quite new then). After interviews I started at Moseley Grammar in Sept 1961.

My story isn’t about school but what we owe to our parents and this is to try to soften the guilt I feel about taking them so much for granted at the time. I came from good, working-class parents – HGV driver and factory worker but they did teach me the work ethic and the responsibility to turn up at work each day on time.

After I was accepted by Moseley Grammar my parents said to me “This year we won’t be going on holiday for 2 weeks to our usual B&B in Bournemouth but we’ll be going for lots of day trips.” Sounded great to me and if I couldn’t swim in the sea, I could go to King’s Heath Baths on my free pass courtesy of Birmingham City Council (thank you).

Day 1 – we went to the school outfitter to buy my uniform – blazer, cap, tie, grey shorts, white shirts. Wad of cash handed over.

Day 2 – we went to the school sports outfitter to buy my sports kit – reversible rugby shirt, black shorts and boots, white PE kit. Another wad of cash handed over.

All items of clothing seemed to be quite large but I was assured that “I would grow into it in a few years.”

The rest of the time was days out at Warwick Castle, Stratford, ice cream in Henley, Sutton Park and a swim in Keepers Pool. Great fun and didn’t give a thought to missing 2 weeks at the seaside or what may parents had missed after 50 weeks of hard slog.

I had always known that my Mum had been denied a place at King’s Norton Grammar because her parents couldn’t afford the uniform (she was one of 9). Then, years later after my parents had died, I put the two stories together and the penny dropped that we had skipped the holiday because they couldn’t afford this AND my school uniform.

I still feel humbled by the sacrifices my parents made for me as I went on to get a professional qualification, a Masters and a good, financially secure life. I know all parents make sacrifices for their children and want them to “have what I couldn’t have” but I think modern parents should evaluate their priorities carefully.

I still feel conflicted about the grammar -v- comprehensive school debate because Moseley Grammar added so much to my later life.

Phew, got all that off my chest.
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
hi KRO and welcome...your post is one of the best i have read regarding what our parents sacrificed so that we could achieve our potential...i have written about this before on another thread but just quickly...i was the eldest of 6 children and really wanted to stay on at lozells girls school to take the cse exams also shorthand and typing so that i could work in an office dad worked in factories and was also a window cleaner..mom took in outwork...mom and dad allowed me to do this despite the fact that for that extra year i could have been working and bringing in much needed income... so it was i left school applied for 6 office jobs and was offered 5 of themo_O....i will always be grateful to our mom and dad bless them oh and we always had our usual weeks holiday in rhyl...

lyn
 

Astoness

TRUE BRUMMIE MODERATOR
Staff member
I agree about not realising the sacrifices till later, though I am sure your parents felt they were rewarded by how well you did.
Lyn - I too had a large choie of jobs. If only present youngsters had the same choice
its true isnt it mike the young one today wouldnt get 6 interviews never mind being offered 5 out of the 6...i wished i had thanked mom and dad while they were still with me but i guess its only when we ourselves grow older and wiser that we think about these things..i have no doubt my own 4 children will think the same when they are my age...its just the way it is

lyn
 

pjmburns

master brummie
Like Lyn I have posted elsewhere about the fact my Mom, a stay at home mom, suddenly got a part time job. Only later did I think it must have been to pay for my grammar school uniform.
I too had uniform "to grow into" - sleeves to my knuckles on my blazer which were above my wrists when I left. :D
My parents then helped me through college as well and I tried to repay them in small ways (not enough) when I started teaching.
I will always be grateful to them.
 

batmadviv

master brummie
Just like KRO it took time for me to grow in my uniform. 3 years later it fitted and it wasn’t worth buying another for the 5th and final year. I chuckle about it now but there was no fashion pressure that I noticed in those days except avid discussions about what Sandie Shaw or Cilla Black wore on Top of the Pops. How times have changed.
 

Vivienne14

Kentish Brummie
Another perspective on how uniform was paid for.

Dad had a reasonably well paid job but mum always worked. She believed she should be able to contribute to the home and or provide her own spending money. She saved via the Provident to get clothing for us. When it came to me and my brother going to Grammar schools, she used the Provident plus anything she could squeeze from my Dad to pay for it. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have contributed but given his absolute and top priority for us of getting a good education he paid for the large items like blazer, coats etc. There was however no way he’d have contributed towards sports equipment or craft/practical items. So really it was all down to my mum that we were able to take up Grammar places.

Viv.
 

batmadviv

master brummie
I have the impression that all of the working class children who went to Grammar schools had parents who struggled to pay for our uniforms. I know my parents did as I was not the only member of my family who made it to grammar school. As the school I attended was over 3 miles from home Birmingham authority paid for the bus fare, thankfully. The city was very generous.
 

A Sparks

master brummie
I'm afraid I must admit I never gave a thought to whether it was a struggle for my parents to pay for my uniform, it was never indicated.
The only consolation I have is that I hardly grew after the age of 12 so I was still wearing the same clothes, except for maybe a shirt or two, when I left at 16 and a half!
 

Johnfromstaffs

Johnfromstaffs
Perhaps things were a little easier for my family, in that there were only we twins, and both parents worked. There was always a car in the drive, even if some of the cars had been in quite a few other drives before Dad bought them! Because of my brother’s disability we made regular trips to London specialists which must have been a drain on the family resources and spent many hours in the Birmingham Children’s Hospital too, those murals in the big waiting room held my interest only for so long…

In terms of bus fares, Staffs County seem to have applied the same rules as Birmingham, our village being more than three miles from school, bus passes for the Midland Red were issued until I left the sixth form. These did not seem to be income related as one of the group had very exalted parents. Like previous correspondents, I am sure that I did not really understand or appreciate the efforts of my parents in raising my brother and me to manhood free from day to day worries about life.

Of more concern now seems to be that the distance between the barely scraping through and the comfortably off seems to be wider than ever, and widening.
 
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Richard Dye

master brummie
I think that only applied if there were no other schools with the 3 mile zone, something that my parents didn't work out until I had been offered a place. The generosity of the City was really that of the rate and taxpayers!
Absolutely my mom gave me bus money every day…..I always walked home and saved the money. When I was older I went on my bike but nothing from the city. We had no car, dad almost never worked and new clothes were a rarity until I got a part time job after school at 14.
 

Richard Dye

master brummie
Perhaps things were a little easier for my family, in that there were only we twins, and both parents worked. There was always a car in the drive, even if some of the cars had been in quite a few other drives before Dad bought them! Because of my brother’s disability we made regular trips to London specialists which must have been a drain on the family resources and spent many hours in the Birmingham Children’s Hospital too, those murals in the big waiting room held my interest only for so long…

In terms of bus fares, Staffs County seem to have applied the same rules as Birmingham, our village being more than three miles from school, bus passes for the Midland Red were issued until I left the sixth form. These did not seem to be income related as one of the group had very exalted parents. Like previous correspondents, I am sure that I did not really understand or appreciate the efforts of my parents in raising my brother and me to manhood free from day to day worries about life.

Of more concern now seems to be that the distance between the barely scraping through and the comfortably off seems now to be wider than ever, and widening.
John, not only the distance between but the number of people. In another thread on workhouses there were some statistics from the 18 century, unfortunately this is not new. ( I-won’t say any more).
 

devonjim

master brummie
I have the impression that all of the working class children who went to Grammar schools had parents who struggled to pay for our uniforms.
A lot of this is close to home. Mom was a single mom and goodness knows how she kitted me out for grammar school. My wife tells me that mom once shared with her that she had had some help from her father. Mom was an only child and her dad had been widowed at about sixty. So maybe this was true.
I recall we used to have bus fares paid with a cheque, can't recall if this was in advance or in arrears. In later years I had a bus pass that granted child fare post sixteen.
At about sixteen I had a new blazer and on the first day that I wore it I was cycling to school and managed to collide with the school gate. I was unhurt but my new jacket had the sleeve badly torn. To this day I remember feeling so guilty that this had happened, so I must have begun to appreciate mom's sacrifices.
 

Richard Dye

master brummie
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