Portsmouth High School pupils took a step back in time to more than half a century ago as 100 grandparents took over classrooms for the afternoon.
Pupils got the chance to learn about life in the aftermath of the Second World War as grandparents talked about their time at school, home-life and children’s toys. The initiative was part of Portsmouth High School’s Grandparents Day.
Eliana Van Gelder, 10, said: ‘Today has been really interesting. I think there was a lot less for children to do – I was really surprised to find out that people didn’t used to have televisions.’
Classmate, Sienna Stretton, 11, added: ‘It has been brilliant to hear from people and ask questions about what life was like – much better than reading from a book.’
One of the biggest topics of conversation was about changes to school life.
Avril Walker, 72, whose granddaughter, Molly, five, attends the school, said: ‘My old school was an old Nissen hut which used to shelter soldiers during the war. It’s lovely to come in and see Molly’s classroom. It’s so different to how I remember school.’Husband, David Walker, 71, added: ‘We sat in rows at individual desks which had ink wells. All the teacher had was a blackboard and chalk. We had to go outside to the toilet and there was nothing in the playground.’
The days oldest visitor, great-grandparent, Annie Fitzpatrick, 88, spoke to children about the use of corporal punishment. Natasha Emily Sard, eight, said: ‘I would not have like to go to the school when my grandparents did. People used to get the cane if they were naughty.’
Grandparents also brought in toys and memorabilia from their own childhood including puppets, kitchen utensils, stamp books, clothing and coin collections.
One of the biggest talking points centred on Diana Holland’s 1930’s recipe books.
Matilda Roberts, 10, said: ‘The food back then was quite different – there were lots of desserts and everything was measured in ounces.’
For Prep School Deputy Head, Lindsay Cunningham, the day was about giving children a direct link to local history.
‘Today provided a first-hand window into a period the children don’t know much about,’ she said.
Prep school Headmaster, Paul Marshallsay, added: ‘The school is very much a family and inviting in grandparents is very much part of that. They have a lot of knowledge to impart.’
With thanks to Neil Fatkin from The Portsmouth News for covering the story.