School curriculum 1931-1958


I just discovered my Mother’s school certificate, awarded in 1931. I’ve contrasted it with my GCE O Level, taken in 1958. We both went to the same school and in some cases had the same teachers, but things did change over a generation.
In 1931 she studied:
English Language and Literature
French
History
Geography
Mathematics
Botany
Art
Needlework (These subjects written on the back in Mr. Boyce’s elegant handwriting.)
In 1958, I took:
English Language and Literature
French
History
Geography
Mathematics
Latin
General Science
Additional General Science.
6 subjects were identical; the other three represented changes.
The obvious difference was that some of the subjects she took were gender-specific. like Botany and Needlework. Although Physics and Chemistry were taught there in 1931, they were not taught to girls. It is also probable that the Zoology aspect of Biology was not deemed appropriate for a girl’s tender sensibilities.
In my day we were required to drop subjects like Art and Woodwork in favour of more academic subjects. Physics, Chemistry and Biology were lumped together  for a General Science paper, but in 1957, after the Russians launched the Sputnik satellite, there was a great scurrying around to improve science teaching. As a consequence, we were given extra science lessons and entered for an extra science paper called Additional General Science.
Later, Physics, Chemistry and Biology were offered as separate papers 

Sunday School

Sunday was not my favourite day. We were not allowed out to play because our noise might disturb the hard-earned rest of Wolverton’s citizens. The same strictures applied to all my friends, so you would see them for six days a week, but never on Sunday.
However we were bundled off to Sunday School – probably for 9:00 am.
This picture was taken in October 1948 to mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Sunday School in Wolverton. I am guessing. The inscription in the book of Common Prayer I was given to commemorate the occasion refers to the “Centenary Festival”. Since St. George’s foundation stone was laid in 1843, iy cannot be this – unless 1848 denoted the completion of the church. I can identify many of my contemporaries in this picture but I won’t name them here because of the quality of the image. The Vicar at the time was C. Oscar Moreton. I think he retired a few years later. The curate I cannot identify, nor the woman in the centre who was probably the Sunday School Superintendant. She retired from this duty shortly after and was succeeded by Mr. Eales.
At Sunday School we learned the ten commandemnts by rote and the Catechism. We were also told various bible stories with explanations of the significance. Some concepts, like the Trinity, were hard for young minds to understand. I think I got God the Father and God the Son, but I could never get my head around God the Holy Ghost. Usually we were broken up into groups by age and taught whatever was appropriate by one of the teachers, the we would come together for some sort of assembly led by Mr Eales. Mr Eales was a tall, lean, earnest man and was a very committed Christian. He spoke more  than once of his ambition to travel to the Holy Land (difficult enough in those post war years) and I believe he achieved this dream. His son Stephen, a year older than I, was musically talented, and apart from playing the clarinet alongside me in the school orchestra, played the church organ in his late teens.
The photo would suggest that the school was quite well-attended in those days but this was only a section of the population.
The photo was taken in front of the stage at the Church Institute. The stage was conventional for the period with a proscenium arch and a small apron with steps on either side. Note also the wood block parquet flooring.
I must have spent a few years in Sunday School because I can remember going there first and then going to church to sing in the Church choir at sung eucharist. Sunday school at 9; Church at 10:30; home by 12 for the Billy Cotton Band Show. That was Sunday morning!