GREENHILL COUNTY INFANT AND JUNIOR SCHOOL SHEFFIELD
There was an article that appeared in Friday 27th September 2002 edition of "The Sheffield Star" (page3) that recorded that 2002 was the fiftieth anniversary of the school's opening in 1952. I have reproduced the article in the form of a pdf file which can be accessed by clicking on the link Greenhill Primary School Sheffield .
I attended the school between January 1959 and July 1965 before I went to Abbeydale Boys Grammar School in the September of that year. I have never been back to the School since the day I left but I have passed it on many many occasions. Unfortunately my memories of the school are not particularly happy ones (no difference there then) but having said that they are infinitely better than the ones I have of Abbeydale Boys' Grammar School. The reminiscences in the article are valid to a certain extent but they only hint at some of the problems and totally ignore others.
Compared with other Primary schools in Sheffield in the early 1960's, Greenhill County School was a modern school and enjoyed an excellent location. My first memory of the school was my first day there in January 1959 - there were no nursery schools in the fifties in the areas that I lived in. Mothers were expected and in many cases ordered to stop work when they had children. The 1952 photograph in the article shows the pupils entering the school by the top gate but my mum took me in by the bottom gate and up the drive next to the caretakers house. Parents were ordered not to come into the school and so my mum waved, as I walked across the Infant's school playground and into the school building. I did not stop "dinners" and so at dinnertime my mum came and collected me and I went home for a bowl of chicken soup and bread. I went back in the afternoon I bit happier than I was in the morning. And that believe it or not is my most vivid memory of Infant School.
Above are two aerial photographs of the school that were taken soon after it was built in 1952
The first teacher I had was a Miss Smith who taught what I suppose nowadays is called the Reception Class. Recollecting, I seem to remember her as a small thin faced woman with sharp voice and a "wintry smile (or grimace)". She also played the piano in the daily school assembly. After Miss Smith I moved into a class that was taught by a teacher called Mrs. Hammond and then a Mrs. (or Miss) Hughes. It was her name that was on the bottom of my first school report that was issued in July 1961. I was seven years of age. She was my last teacher in the infant school.
Greenhill County Infants School did leave a legacy that is still with me today. Once a week or on occasions twice a week, I used to stop to school dinners. Whether or not this was to give my mum a rest I don't know but in stopping for dinners you ate what you were given. I was never partial to cheese pie in the first place but one day it was particularly bad. However I was forced to eat it as well as the dessert of stewed prunes and cold custard. Apart from gagging, I was also being shouted at "you're not going out to play until you've eaten it all up". Well the inevitable happened: I did eat it all up but a lot more seem to come back as I was sick all over the table and the dinner lady. It is not surprising that have never had prunes and custard since and am still uncomfortable with cheese.
September 1961 saw a move into the Junior School and class J1A. According to the Report for that year a Mrs.V. Hemmings was the teacher.
I seem to recall that you spent most of your time in her class chanting multiplication tables or reading passages out of books. It was also when you were introduced to "real writing. I certainly can't remember any art or music lessons but there must have been for me to be classed as "very poor" at art. So much for encouragement.!!. Similarly you score a mark of 95.5% in your end of year exams and the best comment they can come up is "very good". Still at least they did not say "must do better". The other interesting point is the number of pupils in the year. 128 of which 124 took the exam. Class sizes were always in excess of 30 pupils - it was just the way things were back in the 1960's. There was no possibility of having smaller classes because there were no extra rooms to be had in the school. As for Mrs Hemmings I was told that after she retired, she moved to Devon.
September 1962 saw me move into J2A, the class of Miss Neilson who I remember purely because she seemed to be younger than most of the teachers at the school. She had blonde hair and gold rimmed glasses and was more quietly spoken than most of the teachers at the school. As ever lessons consisted of rotation learning with heavy emphasis on the three r's. There always seemed to be tests of some sort at the school. The following autumn 1963 saw the segregation of children with J3Boys and my first male teacher a Mr. Hanson. the tests came thick and fast as usual but this time they were accompanied by the threat, and indeed, use of violence. Part of the toughening up process for secondary schools? Possibly but clips, slaps and sarcasm are not the correct way to educate ten year old children. This period of persistent testing was all to do with the passing of the 11+ exam. April 1964 - December 1964 saw seven reports being issued and sent to my parents. The school was judged purely on the number of pupils who passed the 11+. Those that were considered pass material were undoubtedly severely pressurized by the teachers to achieve their potential.
September 1964 was my last year at Greenhill County School. Placed in the class of 4A I was subject to the tender attentions of a Miss Parker. You could say that he bark was worse than her bite but if you did, you would be lying. She was a large bully of a woman who would not hesitate to crack you if she thought it necessary. She did in fact "rule by fear." Looking back in hindsight, I can never understand why people like her were allowed to teach or to be more precise, frighten children. Still if you are one of those people who believe that the end justifies the means, then you must say that Miss Parker did the business for the school in ensuring that the required number of pupils passed the 11+.
Greenhill Primary School is to the right of the photo
The Headmaster at the School whilst I was there was a Mr. R.W. Sowerby. In the Sheffield Star dated Thursday July 20th 1967 there is a picture of Mr. Sowerby receiving a trolley from the teaching staff at Greenhill to mark his retirement from teaching. From the brief accompanying article it notes that Reginald had spent all his career in Sheffield serving almost twenty years at Heeley Bank Council School before moving to Greenhill. He then spent another twenty one years there as Headmaster. In retirement Mr Sowerby continued to live in Sheffield, the 1972 Kelly's Directory shows him living at 294 Meadowhead, Sheffield
A former pupil who went to the school mailed me in November 2003 with his reminiscences of his time there in the early sixties. They are certainly evocative
Having to do those awful "Reading for
Meaning" five question comprehension tests
And in January 2015 I received this information from a reader who must have been at the school at about the same time I was.
" I have just read your page on your time at Greenhill Primary School. I think we must have been there around the same time. I went there in J2 after starting primary school at Frecheville. I think my teacher in J2B was Mrs Starkey, in J3 Mrs Cole and in J4B Mr Peter Williams – a very athletic Welshman who ran a lot of the sports programs. I have very fond memories of Mr Sowerby and one of his Christmas speeches – which related to his poverty stricken childhood and his mother’s sadness and the message was that we shouldn’t have greed/demands/expectations around Christmas presents – a philosophy that has stayed with me ever since. I thought he was like a gentle grandfather.
I loved my time there but sounds like your experience wasn’t so great!"
Thanks to John Wragg for use of the school emblem and badge.
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This page was last updated on 03/09/16 15:42