FORMER pupils of Kingscourt County Primary School in Rodborough enjoyed a reunion on Friday night.

Jacky Taylor, who helped organise the event, shares her memories of the much-loved school, which closed in 1972. 

This summer several of us who went to Kingscourt County Primary School got together for the first time in years and spent many hours discussing what it was like to have been to a small parochial primary school in a tiny village.

We all felt how lucky we were to have been taught by such a dedicated teacher as Mrs Margaret Cox who welcomed us through the doors in September 1965 and closed the doors behind her for the last time when we left in 1972.

Mrs Jackson, then Mrs Tagg looked after the infants while Mrs Wheatley taught the middle section of the school and Mrs Cox the older ones.

Our primary days were fortunate ones.

The curriculum was not prescribed and we were lucky that Mrs Cox valued the arts - so drama, singing, poetry and creativity took up a large part of the school day.

We learned to sew, embroider, draw and consider the world around us.

If the weather was fine it wasn’t through books that we learned about the purple orchids and yellow cowslips on the common above us, we immersed ourselves among them and spent the day where they grew learning the names of wildflowers and trees as we came across them.

We played rounders or football high on the grassland as the concrete playground of the school yard was good for hopscotch and skipping.

In the autumn we collected conkers and played relentlessly to find the champion. Marbles were swapped and won as were beads that we stored on ribbons until they became too long to carry and we had to stow them in our gingham PE bags that hung on named pegs in each cloakroom.

We loved our school days in a way that are hard to imagine now. We sat still when told to and when we were tired laid our heads on our arms and slept a while.

If we were poorly you were moved nearer to the coal boiler that we took turns to fill, stoke and lug coal in from the coal shed. If you really needed to go home, one of your classmates would walk you, returning back to school at their leisure. We weren’t walked to school.

Highlights of our school times were things like the day the new TV arrived. Purchased with the intention of us all watching the moon landings – Apollo 11 and 12. Standing tall on a stand, it was hidden behind wooden doors but we crowded round, sitting cross legged on the floor with bated breath to hear about Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.

Until this point we’d only been able to listen to the radio – Friday mornings was the religious service on the Home Service – again, we’d tune in and sit round singing along to the hymns and reciting the Lords Prayer.

One spring morning, a large black Bakelite telephone arrived and sat on the windowsill in the top class where Mrs Cox taught.

We were allowed to answer it if it rang. We listened in to calls that weren’t for us even if we were supposed to be ‘silent reading’ or learning our times tables.

These we learned by rote and recited daily until they were imprinted into our brains never to be forgotten.

If we did forget or make an error then there were reprimands, often in the form of a clip round the ear or a rap over the knuckles.

You soon learned to pay attention when Mrs Cox demanded it.

Break time was when the milk would be shared around.

Lunch was delivered to the school each day having been cooked at Rodborough Primary School in the larger kitchen.

They were served by the dinner ladies onto pastel coloured melamine plates from large aluminium containers that kept the food hot, or not!

Whether we liked it or not, plates were always cleared of the food that was served with threats to re-serve it again the next day if it wasn’t all eaten.

When the school became full we expanded. Being surrounded by a high Cotswold stone and having already had portable buildings installed for the girls and boys cloakrooms, there was little option but to move into the garden next door.

We would move daily from the main school keeping close to the wall as we walked up the road, through the garden path of our neighbours into Mrs Wheatley’s terrapin.

Mrs Wheatley was another advocate of creativity and we ‘made and did’. We dressed up in play costumes and made Blue Peter style art.

She taught us to understand Prokofiev’s Peter And The Wolf and Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag. We listened to records on what must have been a very modern record player but the radio was reserved for Mrs Cox’s class.

At the end of the day chairs were placed on tables, prayers were said and we left the school to be cleaned by the caretakers.

We often took a while to get home and we ran, jumped and skipped down the hill.

We stayed out until late and ran untethered through the glorious countryside. The fear of getting into trouble with parents or Mrs Cox was enough to ensure we behaved well enough to not be caught!

Many of us were involved with the development of Gastrells Primary School, visiting to view the site before building work began.

The plan was for the year six children to remain at Kingscourt to be solely in the care of Mrs Cox for the final term while the others moved to the shiny new school under the care of Mr Baker.

However, delays to the building work meant that this didn’t happen so at the end the school year the doors were closed for good and sadly we left behind a building full of memories.

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