Burnley Grammar School

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Burnley Grammar School
Burnley Grammar School
Year: 1959
Views: 991,574
Item #: 1607
There's pleny of room in the modern-styled gymnasium for muscle developing, where the boys are supervised by Mr. R. Parry, the physical education instruction.
Source: Lancashire Life Magazine, December 1959

Comment by: Claire on 14th September 2021 at 19:30

The "survey" was up on Misterpoll earlier today, but now seems to have been removed. Not surprised! It looked somewhat unsavoury, to say the least.

Comment by: Alan on 14th September 2021 at 12:22

I sincerely hope "Skipper 55" returns to the site, because I personally found his two posts yesterday some of the most disturbing messages I have ever read here.

What went on in 1950, 1960, 1970 or 1980s is one thing - though many readers enjoyed (or say they did) the days of bare feet/bare chests/cold showers and liberal doses of the cane or slipper for the most minor digressions, they are, perhaps, looking through rose-tinted glasses, they perhaps don't understand the misery lads who were either over or underweight (the latter in my case) or who had large birthmarks or scars, went through several times a week.

We are - or should be - at this late date, aware of some of the - shall we say? - indiscretions - that were allowed to be overlooked in past times, but not today, are we?.

May I take a quote from his "survey"?:

"If I said the varnished wooden floor was slippery and bare feet are an essential safety precaution could you agree with me

If I said that for young gymnasts it is important to go barefoot because it has been proven to strengthen the foot and aid in both balance and jumping, could you agree with that

Forgive me, Skipper, if I say this sounds like excuse rather than a reason., onthe lines of: If I tell you A and you don't agree, if I give you another reason, B - will you agree with that?

He says that many of the boys come from poor families - so did many at the school I went to, but even then, you can get cheap tee shirts (try Primark), and many children wear their older brothers clothing once they grow out of it. Sometimes you would pass something on to a mate if you didn't need it anymore.

As I said before boys don't sweat very much at this very young age, if hygiene is the reason he chooses for "minimal clothing" - will these lads be allowed to wear underpants, or are they off to in the interests of "uniformity"??

In mitigation, it can be said that Skipper is being open - it does make you wonder how many men who run junior clubs inflict their own beliefs or desires on to their very young charges who are probably still too young to question them.

If you are helping young, poor lads, many supermarkets, for example, run community schemes to help clubs by the equipment they need. Why not apply to, for example Asda, Tesco or Morrisons. Buy them the same colour shorts - and the tee shirts to go with it.

What Skipper is doing is what I, and many others, resented years ago, was that somebody else's idea of discipline and toeing the line makes those you are doing it too, uncomfortable and resentful.

I repeat my usual caveat - if a boy or boys, WISHES to remove his shirt, by all means let him, but don't use that as a trojan horse for making all the rest conform.

Comment by: Claire on 14th September 2021 at 08:22

The links are working fine if you type them in directly to your browser Bit of a weird place for a serious objective survey, though

Comment by: Alan on 14th September 2021 at 04:23

Skipper55: It s 2021, not 1951 - Frankly, this obsession with a "shorts only" policy worries me. It was bad enough when we are talking about 40-60 years ago, but to try to introduce it today - and to make such a "thing" about it..... If I were a parent I would discourage my son from taking part - my memories of the past perhaps colour my judgement, but there is absolutely no need for it today - showers are freely available, and anyway boys of 7-11 don't sweat that much.

Comment by: skipper55 on 13th September 2021 at 16:05

The links do not seem to be working so I will copy the questions here and maybe you will all comment for me.

I run two sessions. Three and a half hours on Saturday afternoon and two hours on Monday evening. Is this amount of exercise
Too much
Too little
Just about right

Of the 5.5 hours about 1.5 is games, often the boys favourite choices and 4 hours is continuous exercise or skill practice. Is this a good balance.
No - should be more game time
No - should be more serious gym

Because of the young age of the boys my emphasis at the club is to develop very good conditioning so they can be optimally prepared if they wish to do more serious gymnastics beyond 12. I think skills are less important at this age. Is this the correct approach.
yes, it is essential for them to have the strength, flexibility and balance so concentrate on conditioning
No, the boys would probably enjoy more skill training and less hard physical exercise

The surrounding area is quite poor so the kit is kept as simple and inexpensive as possible. White T-shirt and black gym shorts with bare feet for the games. Shorts only with bare top for the exercises and skill training. I strongly believe there should be a prescribed gym kit so they all look the same. Do you think my choices of kit are appropriate today.
yes, as a parent I would have no problem with this
no, as a parent I feel it is inappropriate for my son to be bare chested while exercising
no, I feel the T-shirt is unnecessary and therefore the kit could be further simplified
no children should not be made to work barefoot
no, I see no reason for a prescribed kit at all, let them wear whatever they like

If I said the varnished wooden floor was slippery and bare feet are an essential safety precaution could you agree with me

If I said that for young gymnasts it is important to go barefoot because it has been proven to strengthen the foot and aid in both balance and jumping, could you agree with that

If I told you the boys often worked in pairs, hold on or balancing on each other, and that I often need to take hold of a boy when teaching new skills and that a shirt, even tucked in, always slips. Could you agree that having a bare top is a reasonable safety precaution

If I told you the gym hall was always very warm with so many active boys and that being hot leads to quicker tiredness and less work achieved and that bare skin is the best way for the boy to stay cool while exercising. Would this be a good argument to retain exercising with minimal clothing.

If I told you that watching the boys work with minimal clothing helps me to ensure they are neither over or under-worked/stretched due to my long experience observing could you agree with that

If I said that working without a top encourages the boys to achieve a good body image of themselves and loose shyness from my experience. Could you agree with me

If I said that boys made to work bare chested have greater discipline and that for safety reasons a high level of discipline is essential for gym could you agree with me

If I told you that almost all the boys come to prefer working in just shorts after some initial apprehension would that sway your decisions
yes it could
no, it makes no difference

I also take the boys to weekends away in the country each month using a large sleeping barn which is very reasonably priced if very basic. I take no more than 6 at a time which is about half the boys. The following questions are about activities when away. First is wrestling acceptable if the boys love it and they can do it safely.

Is a shorts only policy for wrestling ok with you
yes I am now fine with this
no, I still find this unacceptable

Usually the boys are asked to do a morning run of about 1 mile on grass in the surrounding fields. For this I ask the boys to run barefoot unless there is frost on the ground and if the temperature is greater than 10C I also require them to run without a top. Would you be OK with this
yes, toughens them up
no, too strict

During the weekend there would normally be three, 3 hour exercise sessions outside on the field behind the barn. My policy is that if the temperature is greater than 15C the boys work out without a top as the usual practice. Does this now sound reasonable to you
yes, again it toughens them up and encourages harder work
no, again too strict

A simple final question. If you had a son aged 7 to 10 would you allow him to be a member of the gym club.
yes I would have no problems at all with your methods
no your methods are just too old fashioned

Comment by: skipper55 on 13th September 2021 at 12:59

I have just found this forum and it is very interesting and also surprisingly relevant to my current situation. I run a small gym club for 7 to 11 year old and have done now for 25 years. In all that time I have never changed the way the club is run and I was a bit traditional to start with. Some mothers have voiced disapproval of some of my methods and although I don't think it has ever caused me to loose boys it might be effecting new membership. I though I would create a poll and ask for peoples opinions. I look forward to hearing what you all think.

Link https://www.misterpoll.com:80/polls/644072

And for message forum https://www.misterpoll.com:80/forums/327868

Comment by: Steve on 13th September 2021 at 09:48

We had official PE and cross country kit, but could omit items if we wanted to.

Some boys wore shorts, t-shirt, socks, plimsolls, with a range of kit down to some boys only wearing shorts in the gym and xc.

So, did boys hate this limited kit, or were they quite happy to run outside barefoot and shirtless ?

Comment by: Jimmy on 13th September 2021 at 00:02

Shortly before my 9th birthday my dad told me I'd be starting boxing lessons so very reluctantly and not having any say in the matter we turned up one morning and that was me. There were a good few of us around the same age and most trained and fought barechested like the older boys For me school was no different,the expectation of going barechested in the freezing gym (which was cold all year round) and cross country and teams of skins v vests outside. I remember my dad complaining to the school after the PE teacher left me on the vests team, I never wore a vest for any PE/Games lesson afterwards.

Comment by: Graham on 12th September 2021 at 18:23

Judging from all the long-suppressed angst expressed here about vests, I am rather glad that that this particular childhood experience passed me by! I don't remember Mum or Dad ever wearing a vest, neither did my sister or I once we outgrew baby-style vests, and I can't remember seeing any of my mates at my boys-only junior school wearing one when we were changing for PE or games. PE indoors was always topless, with reversible two-colour rugby shirts for outdoor activities, cross-country, team games etc. Going commando was encouraged, but not insisted on, but if you kept your underpants on for the lesson, you had to have a clean pair to put on afterwards, and most of us chose to go without. There were no showers, but on PE and games days we were expected to bring a towel to rub ourselves down after exercise.

Comment by: Barefoot Runner on 11th September 2021 at 18:18

John, I had no issue with the shirt free kit. And we very rarely had indoor PE. It was my Mother's insistence on wearing a vest I found bizarre. Given that I would be outdoors at 9am in nothing but a pair of thin shorts, regardless of weather conditions

Comment by: John on 11th September 2021 at 11:41

Barefoot Runner
I can’t see why you thought that you needed a top for doing indoor PE when you’d very quickly get hot and sweaty exercising. The kit made sense, it never bothered me.

Comment by: Michael on 11th September 2021 at 11:33

I wore sleeveless singlet-style cotton vests throughout my schooldays. In the days before central heating or double-glazing were the norm, my mother had a perception that all manner of ills could result from being cold, and hence considered a vest to be an essential underwear item.

Comment by: Andy on 11th September 2021 at 07:36

On a winters day aged 12, I used to leave home well wrapped up - in effect, vest, shirt, eater, blazer, coat.

Our first lesson was cross country (part of PE), so an hour later I was back outside, stripped down to only my shorts, no shirt allowed plus in the case of a number of boys bare feet as well.

One of my neighbours saw us running one freezing day, and commented, saying none of them had shirts on, Andy looked frozen". My Dad's response was "they all have to run like that, he doesn't mind" (I did mind, but as you'll guess didn't get a say in it).

Comment by: Barefoot Runner on 10th September 2021 at 18:35

I couldn't leave home without a vest in my early High School years. Having PE first on a winter morning made the requirement rather ridiculous. From the mandatory vest, shirt, blazer and parka to mandatory no vest or top of any nature.

Our official kit was shorts and pumps (outdoor) But most went barefoot. It was preferable to wet pumps. I got chiblains wearing them so went barefoot.

Comment by: Andy on 10th September 2021 at 11:27

At grammar cshool we had to do indoor PE in juts our shorts and run cross country shirtless. My Mum didn't think it was right her "little lad" had to run outsde in winter stripped to the waist, but, as always then "teachers know best"

So now of course did I have to wear a vest, after all shirtless outside in winter, but vest under shirt inside ? The "no one wears a vest approch" won in the end.

Comment by: Gareth on 10th September 2021 at 09:42

Andy. As I have posted previously my nan had a great deal to do with my upbringing and that was rather old fashioned., because she was the generation before my parents.
So when I went to my first Scout camp my first experience away from home I felt a great sense of freedom. We slept in tents about 6 to a tent, and we had activities which nowadays would be deemed too risky. With regards to kit, PJs were on the kit list but no one insisted we wore them. I felt quite a rebel sleeping in my briefs, and then later on into the camp most of us decided not to wear anything in our sleeping bag. The PJ's went home suitably creased and a bit of dirt as if worn. But then at home back to PJ's.
Thinking back on my school days I suppose the fact that pe was nothing under shorts gave me the freedom that even Nan could not argue with.
Finally, I still remember the horrible woollen swimming trunks we wore on holiday all itchy and when wet very saggy.

Comment by: Bernard on 9th September 2021 at 22:33

Ah! - the much hated vest!

In primary school we stripped to our underwear for p.e. There were two boys in my class who didn't wear vests so they did p.e. topless whereas the rest of the boys and all the girls had to keep their vests on. I remember thinking that was unfair and hating the vest even at that early age. In the last year of primary school p.e. was segregated and we boys changed into p.e. shorts, removing our tops and footwear though I think we kept our pants on. This was to prepare us for secondary school and made us feel very grown up!
At grammar school we wore shorts only for p.e. - no tops, footwear or underwear right the way through the school. This, however, had little or no effect on vest wearing the rest of the time. When I started at the school in 1964 about three quarters of my class wore vests under their white uniform shirts - it was easy to see. By the time I got to the sixth form I think there were only two boys still wearing vests. This was not just because we were getting older - it seemed that vests were disappearing right through the school. Boys frequently walked aroung the building without blazers so it was obvious if a boy had a vest on under his shirt. It was a great sense of achievement when I persuaded my mother that I didn't need to wear a vest one very hot summer day and I never looked back.

Comment by: Chris G on 9th September 2021 at 16:27

Andy, Graham.

Andy's comment "you can leave your vest off until it gets cold" describes it precisely, only it was Mum who got to define "cold". However, I managed to put off the evil day until the end of the October half-term oliday, and unilaterally declared "Summer" the following Easter. When the next school year started in September, topless PE was introduced, and vests effectively became redundant as far as i was concerned.. As for PJ tops, I carried on sleeping topless, a state of affairs that Mum, rather surprisingly, never questioned,

Comment by: Andy on 9th September 2021 at 14:04


At 11/12 everyone wore pj's, at school some boys said they didn't anymore. they wore pants/briefs, or just the pj bottoms.

At a scout camp at 14 or so we shared a dorm - mostly boys slept in their briefs/pj bottoms, one "brave" lad stripped totally (I was shocked !)

Comment by: Gareth on 9th September 2021 at 09:54

So Andy did that mean you did not want to wear anything in bed? Is that what your friends did?

Comment by: Andy on 9th September 2021 at 08:34

All sounds very familiar - "you can leave your vest off until it gets cold" "But Mum none of the other boys wear a vest, Steve doesn't wear pj's either !!"

Comment by: William on 9th September 2021 at 05:50

Claire, see these these for example.




Comment by: Graham on 8th September 2021 at 18:53

Chris G. You said (2 Sep) that, after a summer of not wearing a vest and sleeping topless, when cooker weather returned you were expected to be wearing vests and PJ tops again. Did you manage to dispense with these next summer, and did you get to go without them altogether while living with your parents?

Comment by: Claire on 7th September 2021 at 18:30

William, any citations available?

Comment by: William on 6th September 2021 at 19:40

There has been recent research (like 2010s) which showed that wearing footwear in childhood is harmful, hampers feet physical development (adult footwear manufactured in western world is for damaged feet) and puts body in a stressed state, in some experimental barefoot schools children have much lower aggression levels and better focus, the researchers explained that it makes them feel like at home, they also suggested that universities should handle tests barefoot or in socks for better results. You can google it, I read it some months ago and those were several independent studies, not just one.

Comment by: Chris G on 4th September 2021 at 22:02

Gareth - the grey cells are getting a bit rusty, but there were periods when it was definitely commando, and always in shorts, although at this range, I can't remember how long these periods were or when they started and finished etc. The summer leading up to my 11th birthday was warmer, and more consistently so, than usual, and this was the first occasion when Mum actually encouraged me to leave my vest off for an extended period of time and when Dad introduced me to sleeping without a PJ top. I have a particular memory of getting up and of taking my PJ bottoms off and putting on just my shorts, shirt and sandals., together with the childish sense of pride that when I went out dressed like this, people could see everything that I was wearing. I think I must have gone commando for a number of summers before that, and I know I did for at least one summer after but I do know that when we started doing PE topless when I was about 13, I had just progressed from school shorts to long trousers, and i don't remember ever going commando in those.

Comment by: Gareth on 4th September 2021 at 16:15

Chris G
Did meaning leaving off your briefs meant that you went commando in the summer, and was that atb school in long trousers or shorts?

Comment by: James on 4th September 2021 at 11:34


I too wore shorts up to the same age as yourself,although they were not compulsory at the secondary school that I attended.
I was never given an explanation as to why I had to wear shorts at that age,but I suppose it was to teach me humility and respect for my elders.

Comment by: Philip on 3rd September 2021 at 21:45


We had to wear shorts at school up to the age of thirteen and then longs were optional to the age of sixteen. I had to wear shorts until I was almost sixteen for school - there was plenty of 'wear' left in them and the same at home.

Comment by: Mr Dando on 3rd September 2021 at 19:13

Some of the accounts of past atrocities committed against young children by PE teachers are horrifying. Even today there are many schools which force kids to go bare foot in the gym while offer schools permit or require Plimsolls/trainers.

It is time to stop the practice of bare foot PE to prevent verrucae and to increase child protection.

Here are some offending secondary schools.


On occasion, pupils may be asked to be bare foot in the sports hall. Fitness suite.


What sports will I do in PE lessons?
In Years 7,8 and 9 activities are compulsory. Activities include;
BOYS – Healthy Lifestyles, OAA, Rugby, gymnastics, swimming, football, badminton, cricket,
athletics and in year 9 volleyball.
GIRLS – Healthy Lifestyles, OAA, Netball, badminton, swimming, hockey, dance, gym, tennis,
rounders, athletics and in year 9, trampolining and health related fitness
In Years 10 and 11 there is a choice of activities available and pupils choose a PE Strand
which they follow in autumn and spring term.
The strands group activities such as football, rugby etc, dance, trampolining etc and
badminton, volleyball etc. There is also a Leadership option in year 10 and 11 where you can
gain a recognised qualification.
In summer pupils can choose different activities which include; surfing, cricket, athletics,
extreme golf, street surfing, ultimate frizbee, rounders and athletics.
What is the PE KIT?
All pupils are required to wear the ‘HUMMEL’ Wadebridge School PE Kit for EVERY lesson. The
PE kit is ALL supplied through the school supplier ‘Proserve’ and is purchased at the beginning
of Year 7 or at any time after if kit needs replacing.
Yellow HUMMEL T-Shirt, Black HUMMEL Shorts and Long Black HUMMEL Socks. Footwear will
depend on the activity and boots are essential for Football and Rugby in Autumn and Spring
Shin pads are compulsory for football and hockey and gum shields are highly recommended
for both.
As part of the Wadebridge PE Kit there is a wind/shower proof jacket suitable for all outdoor
activities. This is an optional piece of kit but is recommended for Autumn and Spring activities.

For Gym it is expected that all pupils will take part in bare feet.


PE Kit expectations
The PE kit is part of your child’s school uniform and the correct kit needs to be worn. We fully suggest that your son/daughter brings their fleece to every lesson as this will be the only outer layer they are permitted to. Along with their t-shirt, shorts and socks girls can wear ALL BLACK leggings that can be purchased from school and boys can bring ALL BLACK tracksuit bottoms (in the event of very cold weather). A black base layer can be worn under t-shirts and shorts again, in the event of cold weather.

Performing arts
Key stage 3 dancers- expected to wear school uniform & remove ties, shoes, socks and blazers.

Key stage 4 dancers- expected to wear PE kit and bare feet, or leggings and a t-shirt. No cropped tops.

It is time we ended the bare feet requirement and introduced a gender nuetral PE Kit that includes base layers and tracksuit bottoms. Football & rugby should no longer be a requirement for males and we should bring sport into the 21st century.