Fulwood Counry Secondary School

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Fulwood Counry Secondary School
Fulwood Counry Secondary School
Year: 1958
Views: 68,515
Item #: 1608
Instruction from the expert, Miss Hilary Peet, physical education mistress, who plays netball for Lancashire and who is also a member of the County swimming team.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, November 1958

Comment by: Adam on 10th August 2020 at 00:58

Hi Mary - thanks for the reply.

That sort of reaction from your grandchildren to the PE knickers does not surprise me. A younger relative of mine left high school a couple of years ago. As far as I know, she has always worn t-shirts and shorts or skorts for her PE kit.

I expected that 'knicker inspections' would involve something like the boys being removed from the room while the girls just lifted their skirts up, so thank you for confirming that. Did the boys know why the girls were being kept back? The practice seemed to have died out by the time I was in primary school in the 1980s, so it's always rather intrigued me in a way.

The full uniform check certainly sounds like it would have taken a while! I can't remember anyone ever being told about their uniform or PE kit being dirty or worn out at my high school. The girls' PE kit included the dreaded 'gym skirt and knickers', which seemed fairly standard for the 1990s. I can remember the girls being told to wear black knickers in a mixed PE lesson in Year 7 (first year), and that was about it!

I don't think we had any 'health' checks beyond annual eye tests and a dentist coming in to look at our teeth in both primary and high schools, and even then they were quite basic compared to what you'd get at an optician or dentist.

Comment by: Adam on 9th August 2020 at 23:59

Hi Andrea - that doesn't surprise me really. I would guess that by then very few parents were picking the 'skirt and knickers' option. About 4 or 5 of the girls in my year group were still wearing them when I finished high school, and that was in 1996.

Comment by: Andrea on 9th August 2020 at 15:44

How often were those inspections done at secondary school?
The only time I can remember anything like that was when we had school medicals, one in the first year and one in about the 5th year.

Our PE teachers saw us stripped off for showers after lessons, so would occasionally advise girls about personal hygiene or the need to wear a bra.

Comment by: Mary on 8th August 2020 at 13:33

Adam, I showed my grandchildren (boy 10 and girl 12) the picture of the girls and they thought the knickers were "ugly" and that it was weird to wear nothing over them. My granddaughter attends a comprehensive school and has a leotard for gym and a skort for outdoors with different trainers for indoors and outdoors.

Knicker inspections varied. Our primary school was co-ed and knicker inspections took place after the daily assembly. They were completely random and unannounced and happened 3 or 4 times a term. The first we were aware was that the boys were told to file out to lessons and the girls were to remain seated on the floor. We then had to line up in our classes and then the youngest class went first. When instructed we had to line up in front of the exit and then each leave slowly one at a time. As we approached the two teachers stationed at the door way we had to lift up our skirts and pause until told to put our skirt down and proceed to our class.

Anyone without the correct green knickers were told to wait in the girl's changing room. Routinely, girls wearing the correct knickers were sent to the changing room anyway for a full uniform inspection. I wore what I now think might have been "Montforts" for about 2 years. They were probably 3rd or 4th hand and very faded. At the time all I knew was that they were the comfiest knickers I had ever worn. Compared to a new pair of knickers from the local Co-op they looked barely green hence I was on many occasions told wait in the changing room. Our uniform was given the once over along with our PE kit. If it did not comply, was particularly dirty, worn or damaged a note was taken and a letter sent home to our mothers.

At secondary school it was only girls and inspections took place in the classroom. This was always a full inspection of uniform and PE kit followed by a health check. We had to strip down to our knickers and vest or bra and place our uniform on our desks in a specific order, skirt at the bottom, blouse, tie, jumper, socks and shoes, then our PE kit. We stood by our desks and the teacher went through the uniform looking at correctness, cleanliness and condition.

Then followed the health check, first your hair would be checked for lice and nits. You then would be asked to put your hands on your head so that the teacher could assess your personal hygiene, then drop your knickers for the all important "gusset inspection" and lastly the soles of both your feet. Some girl's parents received letters about a lack of hygiene or cleanliness but thankfully not me.

I don't know what my sisters had to do at their schools but I imagine it would be similar.

Comment by: Jane on 8th August 2020 at 08:34

Stewart, interesting post and sounds very similar to my own school days. Whilst boys and girls did PE at the same time the lessons were split except on cross country day or summer athletics then these were mixed. We had two sports halls and two gyms everyone did indoor PE barefoot except the teachers. For outside PE we girls could wear our white pumps just like the girls in the photo or we could go barefoot. I choose bare geet for everything that wasn't on the netball courts even cross country. There were a couple of girls that did everything barefoot too. As for the boys interestingly they did all outside PE barefoot even rugby. We never had any teachers join us barefoot though and they certainly never ran cross country with us.

Comment by: Andrea on 7th August 2020 at 13:23

When my son started at Secondary school in 2001, the girls had a choice of wearing either shorts or a skirt and what wear called 'fitness shorts' for PE.

Within a couple of years the skirts option had been dropped.

Comment by: Adam on 6th August 2020 at 23:54

Stewart - that is probably the earliest I have heard of girls wearing shorts for PE. It took my school until 1994 or so to allow that, and even after then, a lot of places held on to the idea that girls should wear the traditional 'skirt and knickers' PE kit.

Comment by: Adam on 6th August 2020 at 23:53

Hi Janet.

Thanks for your comments, they paint a picture very similar to the one on this page. What did your grandchildren think of your stories about your PE kit? I hope you don't mind me asking - how were knicker inspections carried out? I only ask because I've heard lots of people mention them over the years.

Comment by: Stewart on 6th August 2020 at 15:04

Jane and Ross, taking of being barefoot, you may be interested in my PE experiences. Between 1967 and 1974 I attended an English grammar school where the P.E. regime was very strict, and bare feet were compulsory for both boys and girls indoor and outdoor P.E.

It was always a mixed lesson, like all the other lessons at the school, and for indoor P.E. in the gym or sports hall both the boys and girls wore shorts. The girls also wore T-shirts, but the boys were bare chested.

Outdoor P.E. was on a Wednesday afternoon, with cross country every fortnight, both winter and summer. Boys could wear T-shirts for that, but again, both boys and girls were compelled to run barefoot...even in winter. In the winter term, the alternate Wednesdays were given over to netball for the girls, again they had to play barefoot. For boys, it was rugby, and this was the only exception to the barefoot rule. We could wear rugby boots.

All the other terms were given over to track and field events, where both boys and girls wore shorts and T-shirts, but again, we were barefoot, no exceptions. Even when we competed in county athletics tournaments we had to be barefoot, while most other competitors wore shoes. I do think this gave us a distinct advantage though, as we did tend to win most events.

Our P.E. teachers for the most part wore shoes for the lessons, but there was a strange thing with the cross country. Our P.E. teachers were quite young -- the boys' teacher (male) was late 20s, and the girls' teacher (female) was in her early 20s (but, of course, to us teenagers, that was positively ancient!). Both teachers always ran cross country with us -- the man at the front, and the woman teacher at the back. The man wore shoes, but the girls' teacher always ran barefoot -- yet she always wore shoes for all other P.E. lessons, including indoors.

I loved being barefoot for P.E., but my girlfriend at the time hated it. She was okay with going barefoot indoors, but not outdoors. She asked if she could wear shoes for cross country and netball, but was told definitely not: bare feet were compulsory. I remember seeing her crying while she was brushing snow, barefoot, off the netball court.

This regime moulded my whole lifestyle, as I have always gone barefoot as much as possible, ever since and love it...and I am now barefoot probably 90% of the entire time. I can't see the health and safety brigade condoning barefoot cross country at schools nowadays, either compulsory or by indivdual choice, but my view is that bare feet should be compulsory for all P.E. at schools, both indoors and outdoors.

Comment by: Janet on 3rd August 2020 at 15:28

I happened upon this by accident after telling my grandchildren about my school uniform. I was one of three girls, me, Jill (my twin) and Jenny (3 years older). I have spoken to them about this and they say it is also their recollection.

We all went to the same primary school and Jill and I were there from 1959 to 1965. The uniform was grey and green. Green knickers had to be worn all the time. PE and Games kit was the same, white aertex shirt, green knickers, white socks and black plimsolls (elasticated for the younger ones and lace up for the older ones. As our parents were not wealthy we relied upon hand downs from our cousins and the school secondhand shop. We wore the green knickers all week and during school holidays, they were the only knickers we had. We each had 2 pairs (with our name in) and one spare between us for emergencies. I think we wore a pair for a whole week because Monday was wash day but I cannot be sure.

Jenny was awarded a scholarship to the local private school. Her uniform was grey and cost a lot of money which my parents didn't have. She had regular uniform inspections and it was very strict. She had to wear grey regulation knickers every day until she was 18. Her PE/games kit was too complex to describe with different kit for each sport and different terms. I don't think she realised that she would be wearing a gymslip, regulation knickers and knee socks until she was 18.

Jill passed her eleven-plus but I didn't. I went to the secondary modern and she went to the grammar school. My uniform was green and hers was navy. This all meant more expense for my parents as no girls in our wider family had attended the grammar school. I was well equipped with handed down uniform from my cousins. The bigger items, skirts, blazer and Mac were well worn but plenty of newish knickers, socks and blouses. Green knickers had to be worn every day and we had regular random uniform inspections to check knickers and skirt length.
My PE/games kit was much as before except white became green knee socks and black became white plimsolls. This was worn both indoors and outdoors. Jill's kit was much the same but with a light blue shirt, navy knickers and socks and a navy skirt for outdoors.

Much has been said about forgotten kit. I cannot speak for Jenny and Jill but we always had masses of spare kit around so you were given that to wear even though it was dirty, smelly and worn-out. The punishment was that if the teacher deemed you a regular offender you would have a week's detention to tidy the changing rooms after school.

Comment by: Adam on 20th July 2020 at 18:28

Andrea - I would agree with that. However, I think the idea of "PE knickers" being a main part of girls' PE kit has remained fairly constant since the photo on this page was taken.

Similar practices like boys not wearing underpants under their PE shorts had ended when I was in high school.

Comment by: Adam on 20th July 2020 at 18:09

Michael - Yes, my cousin had to wear what were described as "athletics briefs" at her all-girls' school in the mid-1990s. These things, but maroon:


Comment by: Andrea on 19th July 2020 at 15:58

I guess that practices varied from school to school and decade to decade.

Comment by: Michael on 17th July 2020 at 23:21

My wife insists that "gym briefs" of whatever colour, were never intended to be worn as everyday underwear.

She informs me that at her (posh) school, she wore ordinary thin white cotton knickers under her gym briefs, much as I would have worn my usual underpants beneath my gym shorts, had I been allowed.

Comment by: Adam on 11th July 2020 at 13:55

Mr Curious – I can remember seeing a cousin of mine doing handstands when I was a child. Her brother asked why she was wearing her "school knickers" which confused me. She said that girls at her school had to wear white vests and navy knickers as the girls' indoor PE 'kit' was their underwear.

I went up to high school in 1991. The girls PE kit for most things included a black gym skirt with matching knickers underneath.

With hindsight it does seem odd that schools thought it was OK for girls to do PE lessons in their underwear, or while wearing a gym skirt, just as long as their knickers were a certain colour.

Comment by: Adam on 8th July 2020 at 15:31

Jane and Pete – I was in high school in the 1990s. Like many schools, the girls' PE kit for most things was a polo shirt, gym skirt, socks and trainers. We did have a slightly awkward mixed lesson early on in Year 7 where the teacher reminded the girls to wear black knickers under their gym skirts.

John – I've heard stories of a few high schools which would embarrass boys who often forgot their PE kit – by making them wear a t-shirt and gym skirt from lost property! I think this was a 1990s / early 2000s 'thing'. I assume they just wore the skirt over whatever boxers or pants they had on at the time.

Comment by: John on 5th July 2020 at 17:25

It was in 1960 I forgot my gym kit,( our normal gym teacher was off ill) we had the girls gym mistress, (a real battle axe) to take our lesson. I was thinking I would have a couple of free periods to myself, I explained to Miss Deans I didn't have any gym kit, she went berserk, instructing me to strip off my clothes as she would get me something from the lost property cupboard. I nervously undressed as she came back into changing room with an armful of clothes. She told me to get dressed in musty smelling white blouse, pair of navy blue gym knickers, white ankle socks and black gym shoes. I was ordered into the gymnasium where there was thirty screaming 15 year old girls waiting. Miss Deans soon brought back order, we were assembled in two lines and taken outside for two periods of rounders. After gym session finished Miss Deans had one more thing for me to do, still in my blouse and knickers which was to pick up litter in girls playground. After this humiliation I was taken back into Miss Deans office and given 6 of her best across my knickers. Lesson learnt I did not forget my gym kit again.

Comment by: Pete on 2nd July 2020 at 04:17

I think one reason for some schools requiring that girls wear regulation colour underwear was from your last comment at the end.
We boys used to make bets what colour underwear particular girls wore on that day, so girls wearing the same regulation colour underwear prevented us boy from this perverted custom which was not hard to find out in those days when short skirts were the fashion even for school uniforms.
Even if it was a girls only school I suppose it also prevented male teachers from being too curious when facing the girls sitting down during their lessons. :)

This may sound crude but it was a reality, unless someone comes up with another reason for this requirement of regulation underwear for girls.

Comment by: Andrea on 18th June 2020 at 11:12

Mr Curious,
I'm not sure why, but that was commonplace when I was a school in the 1970s. In my school the regulation colour was navy blue. I can't recall anyone checking what we were wearing, except of course when we were changing for PE. Indoor PE kit comprised regulation knickers, white polo shirts and white plimsolls or bare feet, so if some one forgot their kit, they were still able to take part by borrowing a spare shirt (usually grubby and smelly) from the lost property cupboard. They still had to shower too - borrowing someones towel after they had already used it!

By the time my son was at secondary school, the uniform rules didn't mention anything about underwear. Interestingly though, some of mums said that their daughters preferred to wear their PE shorts under their skirts to prevent their underwear being seen accidentely.

Comment by: Jane on 17th June 2020 at 13:27

Mr Curious, I don't even know the reason for regulation knickers under our school skirts but we had to conform with a particular style and colour for me the choice was white or bottle green!

I think though this is probably an old English tradition and we girls just wore what the school uniform stated and that's what our parents bought us. Then out of fear of discipline we always complied.

Then plus by wearing standard plain knickers helped out if you forgot your PE kit and was compelled to participate in your underwear.

My own daughter has the same absurd rules even today and I well buy her what the uniform list says.

I don't ever recall having any knickers checks though either although this could have happened elsewhere.

Comment by: Curious on 17th June 2020 at 11:32

To the ladies here.

I still find it strange that in some schools girls were made to wear regulation knickers under their school uniform.
Was there any particular reason for this considering that it was just underwear?

I think it would also have been improper to check girls under their skirts to see what knickers they were wearing.
I don't think that this would be allowed today.

Comment by: Jane on 7th June 2020 at 08:06

Mr Dando so you are saying that girls shouldn't shower after a muddy or sweaty PE session? Don't be stupid showering never caused anyone any harm

Comment by: Mr Dando on 6th June 2020 at 20:50

It is important we not only campaign to abolish the school shower here in the UK but also in Denmark where muslim pupils and menstruating females on their periods are still forced to bathe nude.

Here is the translation from one offending school. Please excuse google translate

Dressing and bathing As an important part of sports education, dressing and bathing is mandatory in all sports. However, students can be exempted if they are free after the lessons and if the teacher allows it.As with all school teaching, it is also essential in sports for student benefit that this meeting be prepared for teaching. Ie to bring sports clothes, towel and footwear (indoor / outdoor).

There are no students allowed to practice sports without sportswear. In case the student has forgotten clothes or towel, the school will ask if possible clothing available.

verrucas The student participates in sports anyway. During bathing, footwear is used, a plastic bag is wrapped around the foot or liquid sores are used.The student must bring this to himself.

Menstruation Girls usually participate in physical education. During the menstrual period, some girls may be embarrassed about bathing with the mother girls after sports. In these cases, an appointment is made with the physical education teacher in order to get the bathing done in the cabin.

Exemption The home can request exemption in the contact book by stating the cause and duration. Exemption for a longer period can only be done on basis of medical certificate.For hygienic reasons, bath exemption usually cannot take place. If a student is fast enough to go to school, the student must also attend sports and subsequent bathing.

In special cases it is possible to bathe behind a curtain.As a general rule, students who are exempt from participation in sports must be present in the teaching as the school has supervisory duties.


Communal school bathing must be banned in school regardless of whether there is a curtain or not and pupils should not be forced to bathe in a cabin when they are on their period. Learn from historical malfeasance highlighted on this website and end all forms of state sponsored child abuse!

Comment by: Jane on 5th June 2020 at 07:14

In my school our PE knickers were more similar to the girls on the right and a horrible bottle green colour. We had to change into these from our regular white school knickers.

Certainly the girl in the black pumps would have been out barefoot if this was my school. We did indoor PE barefoot, outside we wore white pumps or barefoot and inside school we changed into our indoor black pumps.

Comment by: Andrea on 4th June 2020 at 16:18

The ones I wore in the early 1970s were also more like the ones worn by the third girl from the left. Like Helen we were supposed to wear them both under our ordinary classroom uniform and for gym.

At my school the girl wearing the black plimsolls would definitely have been in trouble!

Comment by: Helen 61 on 1st June 2020 at 12:19

I take your point. The girl third in from the left seems to be wearing the style of regulation knickers I wore throughout my school years for both everyday wear and gym. I was at school from 1964. We also wore a white Aertex gym blouse in secondary school. I have been told that some schools allowed gym knickers to be worn over everyday pants but that wasn't the case in my day. It may be the case here?

Comment by: Curious on 29th May 2020 at 15:59

Are those girls in the picture wearing standard PE knickers since they all seem to be different, although they are all wearing identical white t shirts.

Comment by: Sando on 11th April 2020 at 22:08

David G,

Since he previously posted as Mary Dando it could be that he has had a sex change since then, which might explain his obsession with boy modesty now. :)

Comment by: Sarah on 11th April 2020 at 09:33

192.com lists 28 people named Mary Sandi on UK electoral registers

Comment by: David G on 10th April 2020 at 08:54

"Comments by Mary Dando on 24th May 2017"
Quote:- "It is disgusting that boys are not allowed to cover their legs for sport but girls are.

School uniform is compulsory, and we ask for the full co-operation of every parent in ... Items of uniform for boys and girls: ... (Boys do not wear tracksuit bottoms).
Salesian School Uniform Policy.

I am glad PE ended for me in May 1989."

With Dando being an unusual surname, I wondered if you & a certain prolific poster Mr.Dando with very similar views were related?