School Memories from 1970-1972

I was only at Highnam for my last two years of Primary School, having been at 4 different schools around England already as my parents were in the RAF but ready to retire from the Forces and settle down.   Mr Lampert had only been Headmaster for a few years but I thought he’d been there for ever! I loved it!

We didn’t have the luxury of toilets in the building, we had to go outside to the toilet block!  The teaching terrapin must have been partly on the site of the Gambier Parry Hall.  There was a kitchen built on the side of the school where the wheelchair ramp is now and we had a huge playground in front running down to the Dell. We were allowed to play in the Dell if it was dry. There was a grass area nearest the main road where the May Pole was situated (I don’t think it was there all the time).

There was no traffic lights then, but Mr George Dole was our Lollipop man and always saw us safely across the road. We always walked to school with one of the mums – probably because we only had 1 car in the family.  I think there was only about 70 pupils, about 10 or so in each year group – Years 5 and 6 were taught together, 3 and 4, then the ‘little ones’. We were in the main school which was split into two classrooms as it is today. 

The milk was delivered daily in little bottles in a crate and left outside the kitchen – if it was a warm day we’d have warm milk, in the winter we had ice crystals in it! You were given a straw which you pushed through the foil top.  I don’t know if the meals were made on site or delivered, but we handed in the dinner money every Monday morning.  You received a telling off if you forgot it. 

As anyone who has been to Highnam School will well know, Mr Lampert was very keen for people to play the recorder.  I really enjoyed it and on one occasion I had to do a solo at the school concert.  I was so nervous, but I did it.  I also learnt to play the treble as well as the descant and often got the treble part as there were fewer of us. 

School plays were a big part of the fun we had. We had a production of Alice in Wonderland production in the winter of 1970……

In the summer term of 1971 we performed the outside production of the Ice Dragon and the Fire Eagle to Holst’s Planet Suite ……. 

 (I was the Ice Dragon……. see above)

Country Dancing was also on the agenda – we went to Picklenash School in Newent for a competition and I think we did rather well.  We also kept up the Maypole dancing tradition on May Day – it wasn’t a Bank Holiday in those days. 

It wasn’t all fun and games though.   Mr Lampert was very keen that we all did well and encouraged us to read.  I couldn’t believe that he wasn’t a fan of Enid Blyton (I loved the Famous Five, the St Clare’s series and the Mystery of…..    books!)  so I moved onto the Secret Garden and Ballet Shoes and have loved reading ever since. 

This was the year the school produced its first magazine and I still have my original copy which I shall scan and add separately.  I have to say that my offering wasn’t brilliant but we did have some very talented writers in the school. 

Maths was very competitive and we would go in pairs into Mr Lampert’s office – I don’t think he was in there as well – and time ourselves reciting our times tables against the clock.  I swear we could do 3 to 12 times tables in under 2 minutes and there was lots of competition!  It may not be the ‘done thing’ nowadays, but at least I don’t have any problems with simple multiplication!! 

For any ‘youngsters’ reading this, we only had exercise books, pens and pencils.  The teacher did all the work on the blackboard.  For a treat we watched a TV program on a fairly small TV that was wheeled in a cabinet from classroom to classroom.  It was a bit temperamental and quite often we never got to watch the whole program.  

We listened to ‘Singing Together’ on the radio and joined in with the songs – ‘On Top of Old Smokey’ and ‘Casey Jones’ were just 2 of the songs I remember. 

Mr Lampert, Mrs Evans and Mrs Lampert were the teachers, Mrs Munn and Mrs Newman were the Dinner Ladies and/or Cooks and Mrs Skillern was on lunchtime playground duty I think.  Please correct me if I’m wrong, and if anyone else has memories of their time at Highnam please get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. 

After school, there wasn’t much else to do except ride our bikes and go-carts, play on stilts, take the dog for a walk, music practise and of course go to the ‘Den’ – an old disused henhouse that was in the woody area where Williams Orchard/Little Lancarridge is now. There were about half a dozen of us who frequently met up there, played tag, practised gymnastics and just hung about!  No phones just a watch to tell us it was time to get back for tea.

I regularly saw Mr Lampert out and about over the last 50 years, we always stopped for a chat and a catch up about the children (his two and my four).  He never changed and was one of the nicest people you would ever wish to meet. 

I had the best couple of years at Highnam School and so did my four children who attended the new one from 1988 until the last one left in 2003, who was there when Mr Lampert retired and is pictured sitting on the car runner in the newspaper article.  They had a wonderful school experience there too. 

A reflection of Clare McLeod’s time at Highnam School

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