The old school days at 'The Tec'

Posted by Esh Capelo on Oct 14, 10 04:22 PM in Bloggers

petersblogpic.jpgPeter Surtees of Eastern Green.

In his latest blog Peter takes a step back in time to his school days and asks whether kids really do have it as hard these days!

About this time of year, most eleven year olds will have settled into their new secondary school environment.

Back in 1952 being just eleven years old, I left Hill Farm Junior School, and began my secondary education at The Coventry Technical School, or 'The Tec.', as it was known in those days.

If the kids of today found their changeover a little traumatic, it can't have been anywhere near as frightening as it was for us pupils at 'The Tec'.


This picture was taken from our school photograph of 1952. I'm pictured second row central next to my pal Malc. Benny. Mr. Gough is situated third row, first on the left.

Leaving the relative comfort of Hill Farm, and starting life at our new school was anything but pleasant.

Our teachers in primary school were usually 'Misses' smelling of lavender and Eau de Cologne, and always referred to us all by our first names.

Contrast this with 'The Tec.' where our 'Masters' smelt of stale tobacco, and always called us 'Boy', or 'You There'. It was only when we got known that our 'Masters', addressed us by our surnames.

Instead of being attired in flowered dresses, or tweedy two-piece suits (our female teachers that is), the masters at our new school, all male by the way, wore formidable looking black gowns.

On our first day, we 'Fuzzers', as first year boys were called, were lined up outside the assembly hall dressed in our new green blazers and caps, waiting to be allocated a House. There were four Houses in those days and mine happened to be Spencer.

We were then taken on the 'Grand Tour' of our new learning establishment, which happened to look like a collection of war time prison huts complete with a central coke fire (which was hardly ever lit), It wasn't until years later that I began to wonder if it really had been used to house wartime prisoners, or at the very least be used as a film set for an 'Escape Film'.

After being given time tables and sectioned off into various classes, mine being 1B, our new life at 'The Tec.' began. The part of secondary school discipline which became hard to get used to were the punishments.

Misbehave in class and you were given a report card which you kept for a week and left on the various masters desks during lessons. If you then transgressed during that time, which could be something as simple as not paying attention, talking out of turn, chewing or the slightest little infringement of the rules, you would have 'Unsatis.', marked on your card ( is this where the saying,' Having Your Card Marked', originated? )

This automatically earned you a visit to the Head, and four strokes on the buttocks or sometimes six of the best, depending on the mood of Mr. West, a.k.a 'Knocker', who was our head master.

Some masters had their own form of arbitrary punishments.

If you misbehaved in Mr Burdetts' class, you were summoned to his desk, made to bend over and receive four heavy strokes to your backside with a size 10 plimsoll.


Another shot taken from our school photo from 1952. Our highly respected teaching masters were, middle row starting from the left, Mr. Parbury, Mr. Burdett, Mr. Perrins, Mr. Sparkes, (Old Ned), Mr. West,(Knocker), the headmaster, Mrs Parbury, School secretary, German teacher,Tom Long and Mr Carlyle. These are listed to the best of my memory, which incidentally isn't so good these days.

This I can tell you was far worse than the cane as it was carried out in front of the whole class. The public humiliation was far worse than the pain.

No one dare have dirty gym kit, or even forget to bring it in Mr. Watts' P.T. class. If you did, then you were most likely made to 'Run The Gauntlet'.

Gloves or gauntlets were not used in this punishment. Worse still, plimsolls again. The whole class was formed into two columns, around thirty boys in all.

Each lad had to stand there with his gym shoe in his hand and be ready to whack you with it as you ran down the column. Not everybody managed to make contact, but those who did really hurt you.

Oh yes, anybody who didn't try hard enough to hit you such as your pals, were made to run down the line themselves, and receive the same punishment.

Oh happy days. In the woodwork class, if you didn't pay attention to the instructions Mr. Gough was giving you at the blackboard, a piece of chalk was thrown your way, followed, if you persisted, by the blackboard rubber.

In one case it was known for a wooden mallet to be thrown at a pupil.

Luckily he was able to duck in time and it missed him, but unfortunately it hit the boy behind, although by the time it made contact it had lost most of its initial force. No complaint was ever made.

The most feared time was the inspection of the article that had probably taken you weeks to make. If the tenon or dovetail joints weren't up to standard, then that lovingly crafted article of yours would be reduced to matchwood in front of your very eyes by that very same wooden mallet.

This happened frequently, but needless to say, our woodworking skills improved dramatically.

Most of us lads managed to come through these trials and tribulations quite unscathed. In spite of these punishments which incidentally didn't happen all of the time, we Cov. Tec. boys thought we were fortunate as we were gaining a good education both academically and realistically.

We endured quite a lot, and in spite of it all, we never bore any grudge to those who taught us. In fact we came to respect them, as they were trying to prepare us all for life after school. We learnt respect and discipline which we all carried on into later years.

I myself benefited as did many of my contemporaries for we regularly meet and discuss the old days at the 'Tec', and The Woodlands where we all moved to later on.

Peter Surtees previously from The Coventry Technical School, The Butts ,Coventry, classes 1B and 2B also Woodlands Comprehensive School, Broad Lane Coventry, classes 3L, 3T, 4T and 5T.

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Darren said:

I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks.

stephanie prentice said:

I was delighted to find this article. My father is on the bottom school photo. His name is John Hyde. He would have been a couple of years older than yourself.

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