Primary pupils get real history lesson

Current pupils join Bert Clarke, Ronnie McCulloch, George Henry, Norman Izzett and Melville Kerr

Current pupils join Bert Clarke, Ronnie McCulloch, George Henry, Norman Izzett and Melville Kerr

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THEY turned up to school in shorts no matter the weather, hid under the table when air raid sirens sounded and got whacked with a belt for speaking in class.

But despite this, former pupils of a city primary which started in the 1930s braved a visit back to their old school to mark its 80th birthday in a week of events and activities.

The Royal High Primary in Northfield opened in 1931 as a private boys school, only accepting girls in 1973 when it transferred to council authority.

Some of the first pupils visited today’s counterparts to talk about schooling in the 1930s and 40s, and have a look around the old classrooms where they were once taught.

Norman Izzett, 81, who started at the school in 1935, said: “It’s wonderful the school has survived. It’s so different but, at the same time, it’s the same school.

“The belt was there from P4 onwards and that was the ultimate control. Today, the school seems very relaxed.”

Sitting in the headteacher’s office, Mr Izzett remembered the first time he stepped foot in the room.

He said: “When my mother brought me in to look at the school, I made myself at home and I started rummaging through the drawers in the headteacher’s office. I still got accepted, though.”

Mr Izzett’s former classmate, George Henry, 81, said: “For a short while, during the war, the class was split into smaller groups and I remember going to people’s houses to be taught. We also had some lessons in the old rugby pavilion at Jock’s Lodge.

“We used to hear that pupils who had just left [the Royal High School] had been killed, so it was kind of harrowing.

“I remember when all the sirens sounded we used to hide under the table.”

Earlier this week, the school hosted a 1930s day, where pupils and teachers dressed in clothing from the time and lessons were taught in the strict style of the period.

Primary seven pupil Lewis McColm, ten, was not keen on the 1930s-style lessons.

He said: “It was rubbish – the teachers shouted too much. The work was also quite boring.”

Headteacher Joan Brear said: “All the staff had gowns on, which gave us all such empowerment. It’s been a real living memory experience which hopefully will stay with the children as they progress through high school and beyond.”

gfraser@edinburghnews.com