Back to school days of drill and dumplings

STRICT discipline and order were introduced at a Kentish Town school as pupils learnt a few lessons from days gone by

Ben McPartland

STRICT discipline and order were introduced at a Kentish Town school as pupils learnt a few lessons from days gone by.

Pupils at Carlton primary on Grafton Road spent Thursday learning in Victorian conditions as part of celebrations for the school's 125th birthday next year.

Headteacher Jaquie Phelan, teachers and office staff joined pupils as they got into costume for Foundation Day - marking the day 125 years ago when the school's foundation stone was laid.

Although there was no use of the cane, teachers did take a few leaves out of their ancestors' books as they enforced strict rules giving the young pupils a taste of harder times.

Deputy headteacher Patricia Kelly said: "The kids have been spoken to very sternly and some have been asked to stand against the wall.

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"They also had to do drill in the playground before school, which the parents enjoyed watching. One or two of them said that in their day the canes would have been out.

"One teacher did have one but she only used it to point at the children if they were not marching correctly."

Children's hands were inspected to check if they were clean enough and, in what could have been an unpopular move on Valentine's Day, the primary's boys were taught separately from the girls.

The Victorian theme also included the school dinners where stew and dumplings were served up.

A special timetable was also designed for the day and pupils' wishes for the future were planted under a tree in the school gardens. Modern games, nintendos, ipods and mobile phones were all put away and pupils spent part of the morning playing the far more traditional pursuits of skittles and hopscotch.

Ms Kelly added: "The kids have really enjoyed being in the role shown by the fact that the majority of them dressed up for the day.

"For the last three weeks, the whole school, parents and staff have been focussed on this day."

And staff say the cane could be brought out again next year when the historic school goes all out to celebrate its anniversary landmark in earnest.

Ms Kelly said: "We are still in the process of deciding exactly what we are going to do next year but there will be a special day to celebrate the anniversary.

"We have also spoken about each of the year groups focussing on one different aspect of Victorian life throughout the year."