Rachel Jarvis nee Evason

My Memories of Ullenhall School

I started at Ullenhall School in 1977 when I was four years old. We lived next door, in the School House, so my younger sister, Sarah, and I never had to go far to school.

In the Infants my teacher was Mrs Latham and I remember Mrs Ashby was the helper.

Mr Barlow was the headmaster and he taught me for a while in the Juniors and then when he retired, Miss Keen arrived ‘temporarily’ but she actually stayed six years until the school closed.

I also remember Mrs Price being there for a time but I never had her for a teacher. Also in the Juniors we had Mrs Allday on a Friday instead of Miss Keen. Miss Keen was in hospital a few times and I remember Mrs Clarke teaching us then.

Edna Gould was the school caretaker. She was also a dinner lady and looked after us in the playground.

My sister and I used to go home at dinner time. Our mum fetched us and as we were walking up our garden path, the dinner ladies, Edna Small and Edna Wilkes, would sometimes hand us the unused dinners over the little wall that was between our garden and the school kitchen. We would have school dinner in our own house, rather than the dinners being wasted. Then we would hand the tins back over the wall when we’d finished!

Part of our house (a bedroom and bathroom) were over the Infants toilets and cloakroom and sometimes, when we were in bed, meetings were held in the Infants classroom. My sister and I could hear muffled, echoey voices but couldn’t make out any words. I can remember kneeling on the bedroom floor with a glass to my ear and listening through it, but I still couldn’t understand anything that was being said! One day I wasn’t well so I stayed in bed and I remember hearing the noise of the children in the classroom below me.

There used to be a terrapin hut in the playground but when the number of pupils fell, it was taken away. I remember watching from our bathroom window as a crane removed it piece by piece and swung them through the air.

We used to have milk at playtime (I can only remember this in the Infants) and two children had to go out to the gate and fetch the bucket with the milk in.

Mrs Latham and Mrs Ashby did needlework with us which I really enjoyed. I made some great things – a rag doll, toy penguin, cushion, fairy for the Christmas tree and lots more. I even knitted a scarf for my dad to use when he went fishing, but it turned out very wide and not very long so it made a better dolls blanket.

There was a wooden shed on the field which we kept the PE equipment in and lots of names and initials were inscribed on the outside of it.

When the flagpole arrived, it was laid down on the playground next to the fence between the school and the garage, behind the sycamore trees that were there. We used to stand on it and bounce up and down.

At playtime we played various forms of tig – including line tig along the netball court lines and scarecrow tig. We also played Polo, Eggy Peggy, British Bulldogs, army, skipped and played elastics. We marched around the playground chanting “Join on for ……………” and when enough people had joined on we shouted “That’s enough!” and launched into the game. There was a climbing frame which we could use when we were allowed on the field, but for a long time it was considered unsafe and we had to keep off it.

There was a bike shed but I can’t remember any bikes ever being in it. When we were old enough we did Cycling Proficiency in the evenings where, amongst other things, we would learn to ride between fireman’s hoses laid out on the playground.

The school was used as a voting station so on voting days we had a day off! Sunday School was held in the Infants classroom. The Church Fete was always held in the school (even for a few years after it had closed down) and I remember the celebration which was held there on the day of Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding.

The colours of the school uniform were brown and yellow.

Mr Barlow used to keep a cane which he would sometimes use as punishment. It made you wince as you watched it come down on someone’s hand.

I can remember having a hearing test in the staff room and a sight test stood in the corridor connecting the classrooms. We also had visits from the school dentist when we would be given a toothbrush, toothpaste and the best thing, disclosing tablets.

At Easter we were each given an Easter Egg with our name iced on it. At Christmas we would do a play or concert and occasionally during the year the school would perform songs in Church. We had Prizegiving and were awarded books.

We had a maypole which I think must have been kept in the shed. It was brought out and some children would learn to dance around it for the Church Fete. A child had to hold onto the maypole to keep it upright.

I can remember watching Picture Box on the television in the Juniors. I think this was to give Miss Keen time to do other things! We also listened to Singing Together on the radio which I remember being a big wooden thing with a speaker.

We had School Savings for which we could take money each week to pay in. We had Bookworm Club magazine which we took home and chose books to buy.

I remember going on a trip to the Cotswold Rare Breeds Park and a trip to Bristol Zoo. We also went to the Royal Show at Stoneleigh.

When it was your birthday, you could choose two hymns to be sung in assembly.

We had horrible toilet paper that was like greaseproof paper. It was useless!

At one time we had swimming lessons at Studley swimming pool and mums took us in their cars.

One day the Queen was passing down the A435 and I remember we were taken to the top of Gorcott Hill to wave to her.

Many children left Ullenhall School to go to larger schools nearby for various reasons and the number of pupils declined. My sister and I left the school in 1983 and I spent my last Junior year at Henley J & I School.