First Days at School

My sister and I. Left, her first day at primary school, middle, identically dressed as usual (but ?) and right, her first day at secondary school.

It’s the beginning of September and it’s that time of year again for some – the return to school. I have a vague recollection of being instructed by my mother to make sure my sister arrived at the correct classroom on her first day at primary school (picture above left).

Fast forward a generation and this is my daughter ready for her first day at school. The bunch of sunflowers was nearly bigger than her.

My daughter ready for her first day at school. She doesn’t look it, but she was very keen and excited.

Recalling another family photograph I dug out this old picture below. It seems flowers for the teacher was a tradition embraced by our family.

If you were wondering what the grotesque puppet I am holding is supposed to be, well, it was Queen Elizabeth I. A junior school papier-mâché project that took all term and was finished at home during the holidays – oh what fun!


Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

16 thoughts on “First Days at School”

  1. I love your outfits. We did not have uniforms ever at school and choosing your first day outfit was an important decision. We did have the tradition of bringing flowers to the teacher. I remember chrysanthemum in the fall and roses in the spring. My mom would wrap the stems in a wet paper towel and then squeeze aluminum foil around that. Today I saw a group of girls headed for school (we live across the street from the high school) and they were wearing shorts and t shirts. Times have changed but I feel the same attention is paid to the outfit- it just looks different!

    1. I have always envied countries that don’t inflict school uniforms on children. I know the arguments folk put forward for them, but to me a uniform is to make people uniform and that is surely a strange lesson for youngsters as they begin to gain self awareness and see that, in truth, no two people are alike.

      1. For me I didn’t care what I wore so a uniform would have been fine as long as it was comfortable! And how much time it would have saved me being dragged to stores to buy clothes I had no interest in. But, from the viewpoint of the effect on a teacher or the like, I agree – it’s a lot easier to treat kids en masse when they all look alike, isn’t it? And not see them as individuals except for where they don’t fit in.

  2. I have to differ on viewpoint here. I well remember turning up to school in a hand-me-down dress and some little girl exclaiming, “Oh! You’re wearing my old dress.” Give me a uniform any day – even if it was second-hand, no classmate knew it had come from them. And later on, for the summer version, several neighbours would sew mine new, so I looked the same as everyone else (except for the shoes – wearing other people’s has given me every foot fault known to man, in my opinion).

    But what gorgeous photos! I have none of those …

    So sad for Queens Elizabeth, papier mâché or any other version – and long live the king (at least until we work out what a republic might look like)

    1. Sadly even all school uniforms are not equal. These days the style of many schools mean secondhand uniforms do look secondhand. Perhaps it would be better to celebrate recycling, re-using, saving the planet or even pushing ‘vintage’ and not newness as worthy of status. But from various experiences there’s always something other children will find to pick on. My daughter was bullied because we had an old banger of a car. Kids! or should that be those unpleasant humans in general.
      Actually I am not sad for Elizabeth she had a long and mostly charmed and privileged life. And, as for Charles no thank you. Time to ditch fairytale kings and queens and find some way to extract the form and function of the Windsors from our state and settle on a new fully democratic, 21st century way of being. If we Brits did that wouldn’t it also solve the issue for any of the Commonwealth countries still enduring a non-elected, hereditary head of state from another country. Mind you I am not holding my breath.

      1. Ah yes, interesting point. Made me think back to the difference between public and private schools (your terminology is different. In Australia a public school is government run). I can’t remember in my childhood knowing even 1 person who was private school educated. Not even in the Catholic school system. We were deep-rooted working class. As I wrote in my book, there were the poor, the poorer, and the poorest. And each “class” looked down their nose at the class below them. I guess, when you are dirt poor, the only way to feel good about yourself is to bully those below you.

        I recommend you try to get your hands on a book called The Palace Letters, by Dr Jenny Hocking. In the meantime, this article may give you an insight into why some Australians do not hold the fairy-tale view of QEII that many ascribe to.
        However, to understand the article entirely, you must cast your mind back to the sacking of our Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, by the Queen’s Australian representative, Sir John Kerr.

        As Whitlam said on the day, “Well may we say, ‘God Save the Queen’, for NOTHING will save the Governor-General”.

      2. Gough Whitlam, my goodness that’s an old name that has stuck with me. I was an airhead teenager at the time, but even I knew there was some major, major crisis in Australia. I have just read the link and all I can say is why haven’t Australians ditched the royals a long time ago? Everyone here, there and everywhere keep saying Elizabeth/Charles are just figureheads with no power, but that isn’t accurate. The Windsors are going to hold on to as much as they can for as long as they can. Maybe once the five UK Caribbean dependencies no longer have the king as head of state then you and the Canadians might start moves towards becoming republics. We are still only at about 25% republican here, but this enforced mourning has made some lukewarm monarchists rethink their ideas, not least considering the huge expensive of it all whilst the finances of the country are in a dire state.

      3. So much I could respond to here. If you get the chance you might like to peruse, “The Palace Letters” by Professor Jenny Hocking. After years of legal battle she was able to have the correspondence released. However, that is only recently, and the events of the dismissal are now half a century ago. Hard to believe there is a whole swag of young Australians who have no concept of who Whitlam was, even though they benefit daily from his initiatives, as Medicare was just one of them. But they are out there – in their thousands.
        The Republican debate will emerge, but I am hearing a lot of people saying they want to retain the monarchy because they are seen as being above politics, and neutral. Clearly, they have not kept abreast of the content of these letters, and King Charles’ III role in the dismissal.

      4. That is the problem with a lot of people they stick with the status quo (above politics and neutral – ha ha ha) because they haven’t taken the time to get informed and rely purely on the mainstream media for news. And, as we know, it takes a lot for the mainstream media of any country these days to stick their necks out and report on uncomfortable truths. One thing I have yet to see seriously discussed by the world’s press is any solution for an economic system that relies on endless growth on a planet with finite resources. It’s a ‘heads in the sand’ moment.

      5. I agree. We are on some kind of treadmill where we produce more and more goods, only for them to end up in landfill or pollute our waterways. And this is meant to be economic growth which is meant to be good for us.

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