Tales of hats, trampolines and mashed potato

It was lucky that the members of the Class of 1971 who came back to visit the school for the first time in 50 years did so during the half term break as their shrieks of delight would have drowned out even the loudest of term-time noises!

It was a great pleasure to take the group of former classmates from Form 2E – who had travelled from as far away as Arran in Scotland and as near as South Norwood – on a tour of the school and a trip down memory lane.  Walking round evoked many memories – and a general feeling that the school seems much lighter, airier and welcoming than in their day! But as one alumna observed  ‘We may not have appreciated the building much then. The dining hall looks absolutely beautiful now… And I can still hear the distinctive creak those stairs in the upper corridor made, now covered with carpet.’

Two of the party attended Sydenham High from the age of four and one even had a father who had attended the Kindergarten back in the 1920’s! Amongst the stories shared of their school days – wheeling the trampoline outside for bouncing on a summer’s day, hiding unwanted mashed potato from school dinners, Dads v Pupils cricket matches on Open Day, the fundraising efforts of the Head of Grey House, culminating in Ronnie Corbett opening the School Fete and blagging free dog biscuits for the Dog Show contestants, Gym in the Orangery, French Conversation in the Caravan and of course, favourite teachers such as Mrs Loft in Home Economics. The group had time to browse through the school archive of magazines and photos from the 1960’s and 70’s and also kindly shared some items from their own, including the photographs below of the Prep School showing the now defunct duck pond and the Junior class in 1964. The group enjoyed posing with the 1970’s uniform display and swapped instances of uniform misdemeanours and rules, for example the Posture badge, kneeling on the floor for inspections to have their skirt lengths regularly measured.

The group, many of whom had received 11+ scholarships as part of the Direct Grant scheme, reflected on how their schooling had set them up for their future lives and careers.  What was clear was their genuine enthusiasm and camaraderie.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and so many memories were triggered of the happy times at school. Thank you for indulging us and allowing us to poke in so many corners.

I was impressed with how the school looks now, so welcoming and inspiring for the pupils.

We look forward to seeing them at a school occasion again soon.

Sydenham Upper VI timetable 1970GDST Upper VI uniform regulations
The Junior School Wendy HouseMrs HartwrightLast Day of term 1964The Junior School duck pond



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