by Audrey Jarvis

I started work at Godmanchester Primary school in September 1963. At that time the school 1964-65was situated on two different sites. The junior department was at Park Lane and the infants were in St. Anne’s Lane.

I was to be in charge of the infant dept. and so was based in St. Anne’s Lane. The headmaster was Mr. Reg Lord. He visited the infant dept regularly but day to day running was left to me.

To start with there were three teachers in the infant dept. Mrs. Sawyer taught the reception class, Mrs. Munt taught the 6yr. olds and I taught the 7yr. olds. Later when numbers increased Mrs. Bagenal joined the staff and taught the older reception children and a few of the younger 6yr olds. Children usually started school at the beginning of the term in which they would be five which meant that the reception class started off fairly small but numbers increased each term.

When I started there were about 100 children in total but by the time the dept was moved to Park Lane there were probably 120 to 130.

I have to say that my memories of my time at St. Anne’s Lane are hazy and may not be accurate. The school building was basically one large room divided into spaces for individual classes as necessary. I think this was done by partitions. There were cloakrooms at each end of the building but I don’t think there was a staffroom. The school building was surrounded by a hard surfaced playground which was used for P.E and games as well as at playtime when weather permitted. When it rained the children had to stay indoors.

The school day followed the pattern that was usual for that date. The day started with the calling of the register in each class by the class teacher and great care had to be taken to get the number present and absent right. I was responsible for checking the registers at the end of each term to make sure the numbers added up correctly.  

Dinner money was then collected from those who were staying for school lunch. This was followed by assembly which involved the singing of a simple hymn, the reciting of the Lord’s Prayer and any necessary announcements. After this came Scripture, then maths. After the mid-morning break reading and writing activities took place and lasted until lunch time. 1965-66

Many children went home for lunch but those who didn’t took it at tables in one of the classrooms. One or two helpers came in to supervise this but a teacher was also always on duty.

On fine days the children played outside after lunch but on wet days they had to be amused indoors. The afternoon was taken up with such subjects as handwork, painting,

nature study and simple history or geography. The day ended usually with story time when the teacher read stories and poetry to the class.  There were a number of school’s programmes available on the radio at that time.

With my class I used a poetry programme in which children were encouraged to listen to poems read by different people and to join in at various places. Simple music was also heard in these programmes. There was also broadcast a programme called Music and Movement which involved the children in dancing and expressing themselves to different styles of music. Unfortunately this required space and so was difficult to organise.

While I was at St.Anne’s Lane education pundits began to recommend the teaching of French at an early age.  Mr. Lord thought this a good idea and decided that my class should begin to learn French. I was supplied with a set of records to which the children had to listen. They consisted of simple words and phrases which the children had to repeat. The experiment did not last very long.

Math’s teaching for the youngest children involved learning to count and recognise numbers, then to add up and subtract simple numbers and gradually to multiplication and division and more complex operations as the children grew older. They were introduced to money and did practical work involving shopping and adding up bills. Measuring also involved practical work as did weighing. Not only did the children have to learn the multiplication tables from 2 times to 12 times but they also had to learn the money table which began “twelve pence one shilling” and had to know how many inches in a foot etc. much more difficult than the current decimal system. 1966-67

Reading was taught by mixed methods but with an emphasis on phonics. The Marian Richardson style of handwriting was taught. Although the building was dilapidated and resources limited I think the children were given a good grounding in basic skills.

In July 1967 at the end of the academic year the school closed for good. In September 1967 the infant dept. joined the junior dept at Park Lane School. There were two permanent classrooms attached to the main building in which the 6 and 7 year olds were housed but the 5year olds were accommodated in two temporary classrooms situated in the playground near the entrance to the infant dept.


We have added a futher St Annes School Photo Godmanchester from 1929, can you help Identify some missing names?