What was your experience?

“Teachers should not have to buy pens and pencils for their own classrooms. Our schools should be properly funded by the SNP government.”

Image result for richard leonard

At  First Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mr Leonard complained that some teachers had had to provide pens and pencils for kids who could not afford them.

Indeed, he was to an extent, right. It is terrible that teachers are having to do this and, in fact, more. Some teachers of my acquaintance are having to provide food for kids they have found raking in bins shaking with hunger.

Of course, they don’t actually have to, but being human beings, some of them try to help where they can. Who could possibly refuse a hungry kid something to eat?

But wait, when I think back to my school days, in Scotland and later in England, I always had to provide my own pens and pencils, not to mentions rules, compasses and protractors. To the best of my knowledge, the state never provided anything like that.

So it is a valid point. Teachers should not have to provide these items, but it’s not the headline-grabbing “SNP government BAAAAD” that is responsible for this. That’s childish nonsense and I suspect that the intelligent Mr Leonard knows that.

Why are parents too poor to provide for their kids?

I’d suggest that a pitifully low minimum wage, zero-hours contracts, part-time work, the utter chaos of the current benefits system (PIP and UC), and rampant inflation, may be the cause.

All areas, you’ll note, over which the Scottish government has no control.

So we have a situation where parents are finding it hard to provide basic necessities for their children. And that these are areas of policy retained at Westminster. And Mr Leonard chose to blame the SNP government. Not the Scottish government, you’ll note, but “this SNP government”.

Not that I’d presume to talk for Nicola Sturgeon, but I suspect that if Mr Leonard was minded to, the First Minister would happily sign a joint letter to Mrs May asking for these matters to be devolved. Then maybe together we could do something about this instead of trying to make petty political points out of kids’ misery.


Image result for school uniform

One thing that the Scottish government might be able to do without asking Westminster, though, is to remove the obligation for children to wear uniforms at school. Uniforms are expensive and nowadays they’re not used for anything except going to school.

Kids grow out of clothes so quickly and it is expensive to replace them. Not having to provide separate wear for school would be a weight off the budgets of some hard-up households. (You know, the “just getting by” ones so favoured by Mrs May…well, for the first ten minutes of her prime ministership anyway.)

If there any good reasons that escape me for making kids wear clothes they don’t like, that aren’t particularly comfortable and that cost a lot of money and have to be dry cleaned, please let me know?

Jeans, trackies, t-shirt and sweaters work ok in schools in the USA, for example.

Image result for Pocklington School

In fairness to Mr Leonard, who had the benefits of a scholarship to a private school, he may have had to find his own pencils. You would think, though, that someone on his staff might have gone to an ordinary school and been able to advise him in advance that he was about to make yet another howling out-of-touch faux pas.

Image result for Poll

Reader Polls:

1/ Were your stationery requirements provided by whatever government(s) when you went to school?

2/ Would you have any objection to kids going to school in jeans and t-shirts instead of shirts and ties and dry cleanable blazers?

34 thoughts on “What was your experience?”

  1. 1/ We had to provide our own pencils, pens etc but jotters and books were provided by the school (I imagine most people remember covering their school books with wallpaper 😀)
    2/ There’s an argument that everyone wearing the same outfit to school creates an even playing field, but I’d have no objection to street clothes as long as there was some kind of code.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I take that point, dondee.

      I see from other comments that everyone agrees with you.

      It would be interesting to know how Danny or Jon view that from the USA, where I think I’m right, there are no uniforms, except in the most prestigious schools.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m sure I got the belt for forgetting a pencil at school.
    Changed days indeed, Tris.
    When it comes to uniforms, I’m in favour. Simply because I believe there’s less chance of kids being bullied and harassed by their local fashion police.
    Sorry to disagree on this one.
    Do it again and the boys will be round to see you, ok?
    Hope you’re well, bro’

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL…. OK OK.

      Well, actually I wish the boys would come round and see me. I could do with a good singsong!

      I’m well, matey, hope you lot are too!

      My very best to all of you.



  3. I remember getting pencil cases as presents, but if you lost your pencil you could always get one from a teacher. Jotters were provided too even if sometimes they were guillotined in half, presumably to make the go further. We also had to cover them, ostensibly with brown paper though more often wallpaper was used (pattern side in.)

    I’m not a great fan of uniforms (although I wore one when I was with Community Safety) and 1950s and 60’s school uniforms were horrendous. Caps, blazers and knee length shorts, even in winter. Yet there is always a but.

    I’ve seen my grandsons in tears when their granny get them “sensible school shoes” instead of (insert fashionable brand name here) trainers. Every so often their school sends a letter home to ask parents not to send bairns to school dressed in trainers because they can lead to bullying of “I’ve got more expensive gear than you” type.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, it’s a point well made. Some would turn up in Adidas, others in Asda.

      Although at Morgan Academy, just up the road from Munguin towers, although they do wear a uniform, most of them seem to wear trainers of some sort.

      I had a granny that bought me trendy stuff for school. My mother and father most certainly not. Oh the embarrassment of some of the stuff they bought!


  4. I had to supply my own pens/pencils etc and like d-flugs above covered them with wallpaper offcuts or brown paper.

    I think there should be a school uniform but that the uniform be stuff you can get from supermarkets – eg blouse/shirt, trousers, jumper etc with just the badge needing changed -rather than from specialised outfitters.

    As for signing a joint letter Nicola is ahead of you, she’s already asked him that at FMQT and an answer there came none…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. LOL. As usual, when Tricky Dicky puts up a tweet of him asking a question, he fails to show the answer.

      You’d think by now he’d learn.

      I’d go for the uniform being more 2018 friendly. Shirts and ties, even among boys, who wears them?

      And frankly, forcing teenage girls into a uniform of skirt, shirt and tie, which they then adapt to something vaguely stylish, is a seriously bad idea, and probably the average middle-aged man’s dream. Especially with fishnet tights.


  5. At my primary School, Lugar Primary in East Ayrshire, we had pens and inkwells. The pens had wooden handles and metal nibs, ink monitor was a sought-after job; but, when I went to secondary, at Cumnock Academy, we were expected to provide our own pens and pencils, plus the obligatory “Oxford” or “Cambridge” set of mathematcal instruments. This was in the 1950s and early 1960s, when we came under Ayr County Council. Then in came Strathclyde Regional Council in the mid-1970s, and Scotland went to Hell in a hand-cart.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Jotters were provided up until the early 80s in Scotland, pens never, (black) pencils yes if available but they stayed in school.

    Wifes experience in England over same period is much the same.

    Fast forward 20 years to our kids education in England & nothing is/was provided unless its for arts (& it stays in the classroom) or you pay for it.

    To be fair it only costs £5-10 or so at one of the supermarkets for the year in terms of paper/pens/pencils etc.

    I know this because my youngest daughter (now in last year at uni) tells me so as she has to buy them herself. Odd how “must haves” turn into “meh whatever” when you pay for it yourself 🙂

    I don’t even want to talk about fountain pens, which for some reason (probably the 8 billion year old primary school teacher we had – looked that way at the time) we had to learn to use. In the 1970s. Yes really 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Oh & in terms of uniforms – my mum was a teacher (EIS as they all were/are) & she told me back in the early 80s that it was illegal to exclude or discriminate on the basis of dress.

    OK what she actually said was “you can get prosecuted for refusing to let children into school because they don’t have the right uniform” 🙂 The above is what we’d take as read now.

    Right enough nobody was wandering around with trainers costing £200 a pop then 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  8. We had to provide our own pens from P7 on. Before that it was the dreaded nib with wooden handle dipped into the inkwell.
    As a teacher in the 80’s I bought pencils and erasers to hand out to those that needed them. The department couldn’t afford to buy enough pencils for the whole year and I couldn’t be bothered wasting time arguing about it. I just made sure the class hard man was responsible for handing them out and getting them in again. No arguments.
    As for school uniforms – I am in favour of some kind of standard garb for wearing to school. It saves risking bullying of those who cannot afford latest fashion, expensive gear.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I love the psychology of the class hardman in charge of pens.

      That way you made him feel wanted and needed… and you bloody well got your pens back at the end of the day!

      Smart thinkin’! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. My experience is from the early sixties. Admittedly, it was in a private school but the council gave me a bursary to attend. My parents had to stump up for pens, pencils, drawing stuff, jotters (with school logo) and sports kit. And they also had to buy the text books. At the end of the year, there was a bazaar in the quadrangle with pupils haggling over the books they were selling and the ones they were buying.

    And then there was the uniform. I was suspended for having my own interpretation of the uniform (with long hair as well). Oddly, when I see the kids in their uniforms now they look quite smart. Except for a certain school in Glasgow where the girls wear a loose grey skirt that stretches down to mid-calf. I am surprised any girl agrees to wear something so unflattering. Compare and contrast with Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline where the girls either wear black trousers or a black pelmet skirt.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ha, yeah. That reminds me on uni, where we flogged our books off to the next year students, having bought them from last year’s students.

      And the last year, oh the joy of not having to buy any more, so it was all profit… and off down the pub!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My experience of both primary and secondary are similar.
    The writing was done by pencil on paper, surprised no-one said in primary one we all had little blackboards and hard chalk, one side was plain and the other had lines. The teacher would form the letters on the big blackboard and we copied onto our TABLET.
    Yes jotters were covered in whatever paper was available at home, always pieces of cheap wallpaper in my case, the better off had brown paper. The textbooks were handed out for the period and returned when the subject moved on, for next year. Going by the number of names on each book they were in use for decades, always a great thing to know the person who had it before you.
    Agree about the uniform, much better to have than not but agree it shouldn’t be some colour that can’t be used. We had hand me downs from cousins etc, as has been said you grew out of things at strange rates, sudden spurts. I can still remember the heavy winter coat that was like a tent at first and by easter it was passed onto a cousin a year younger than me.
    I know of a lady who purchased pens and pencils from her own purse to hand out and collected clothing to have available for little accidents, a truly generous person. They do exist.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh yes. There are many kind people. I was in Morrisons and then Sainsbury this evening and their food bank collections are both brimming over. Quite superb.

      Yes, I vaguely remember over-sized stuff which, over the course of the year became skin tight.

      I remember books with people’s names in them too. Nice memories…at least looking back! Not at the time though… argh Latin nous!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Primary in the 70’s always had to bring your own pencils , rubbers and rulers . Secondary in the 80’s exactly the same . Uniform for the first 2 years of primary then own clothes all the way until finished secondary school . My eldest two kids the same , but my youngest two uniform always and as per usual they have to bring their own pencils, pens , rubbers and rulers . Although my youngest son has a sideline in pencils at school , he seems to have way more than he needs , actually he has way more than the school needs !
    The uniform argument will always cause friction strictly due to cost , but a basic uniform actually helps kids who don’t have a lot feel a little less left out .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, Ricky. I think everyone agrees that a uniform of sorts is a leveller.

      I can see that, but I think that it should be something that reflects the days we live in.

      Trousers and sweatshirts would do fine. Or even trackies and sweatshirts… although I suppose again that some would come with Adidas and some with Asda.

      It’s hard to stop that kind of thing. I am sure it happens with phones or tablets. (And not the ones that Dave was talking about!!!)


  12. Tris,
    Ma mammy made sure I had pencils and a pencil case to put them in.

    As for uniforms, I’d ditch the shirts, ties and blazers in favour of Tshirts and sweatshirts. At least then the kids of poorer families don’t get singled out.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I reckon that’s the most sensible thing.

      Make sure it’s something that can’t become designer label v cheap shop stuff.

      LOL I’m just now remembering pencil cases and some of the really funny ones the girls had in funny shapes.

      Mine was wooden.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. 1. My new pencil case every year was my pride and joy. There were 6 of us and we all had one, so I guess my parents went without to give us things. Ashamed that a country with all our resources still has children doing without basics, but it sure aint SNP’s fault and Leonard kens fine. They conflated reserved vesus devolved issues before and think it will gain traction and with some it will unfortunately.
    2. I hated my uniform utterly and was punished initially by the belt for wearing non standard stuff. After the second time, I defiantly stood up to a teacher and loudly proclaimed my uniform was expensive, ridiculous and I wasn’t going to change so he best do his worst. He avoided me after that, my mum complained and there began my campaign!
    My daughter went to local secondary school which had trousers/skirts, polo shirts and sweat shirts in different colours in different years. MAGIC. But, a new headie changed that recently much to everyone’s disgust. Thankfully, my daughter has left school now. 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that it’s disgusting that people in this country go without basics. And just before I came over here to the blog I was looking at Twitter and the last tweet I saw was from Doogs. It said:

      Scotland and Norway discovered oil at the same time.

      Norway is dripping in wealth.

      Scotland has poverty and foodbanks.

      Please wake up Scotland.

      That uniform regime sounds sensible.

      The headmaster decided to take things back to the 50s? I suppose they can do that, but why bother. Kids really don’t want to wear that kind of stuff. Why make their lives any harder.

      And who had the bright idea to propose white shirts, especially on young boys?

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t remember ever having to take a pencil to primary school in the 60s or ever having trouble getting a pen or pencil if I didn’t have my own at secondary. That doesn’t mean that I don’t think Leonard’s upto his usual double dealing, sleekit underhandedness.

    As far as the uniform goes I’m kind of split on it. Peer pressure, hierarchy, subcultural rules etc. is a complicated business and I think uniforms are a simplistic response to trying to create a level playing field. Rich kids will always have nicer uniforms, sweatshirts, jaggy bottoms etc… and this will always be used to jockey for advantageous position in the playground hierarchy.

    The only real way to achieve parity on this level would be for the school to issue the kids with their clothes washed and ready on a daily basis which of course would be ridiculous.

    Apart from the adults creating an equal society where clothes etc.. are not seen as important, which, being realistic ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Schools would need to include some sort of ethics education into their curriculums in an effort to teach ‘decency’ and ‘moral values’ and/or perish the thought, looking out for one another and the value thereof.

    Uniforms are just a sop, a disguise hiding the real malaise. It’s about how we as a society interact that’s the problem, not the clothes we dress it up in.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pretty profound there.

      I agree that we need to try to instil into kids that there is more to people than how much money they have, or how “nice” or “kicking” their clothes are.

      Under the shabby hand-me-downs is a kid with feelings. Probably a nice kid.

      But kids are cruel. I wonder where they learn that?

      And I wonder if, given the incredible gap between rich and poor in Britain, if kids here aren’t even more disadvantage than kids in general in other European countries.


  15. As a left handed using a fountain pen or similar it was always difficult to present tidy work because your left hand would succeed the pen causing it to smudge the wet ink, not a pretty sight, I lost many a mark as a result.
    As a primary pupil a teacher had tried to convert me she would snatch the pencil from my left hand thrust it in to my right hand and tell me to write properly otherwise I would grow up unable to read and write properly…
    School uniforms are such a waste of time, as if there can ever be any kind of equalisation, with school uniforms as they are now the rich kids still manage to show off and let everyone know that they are the rich kids by having the designer school bag the designer jacket and trousers and skirts that are designer too but in black.
    In my opinion school uniform is just more of the British obsession with uniforms and military behaviours.
    As an army kid that went to H.M.Forces schools overseas always called king George high school or queen Elizabeth primary etc we had to sing god save the queen every morning.
    No pens in Hong Kong ,Libya etc, too hot ,the ink just didn’t flow properly .Pencils only,issued by h.m.s.o. good quality wood if you were of the mind to chew the end.
    In between postings we would return to stay a week or two with relatives in our home town Dundee and I would have to go to one of the schools here for a week or two where I regularly was the exhibit and oddity with the BBC accent, people would say to me
    ” say tanner” or “say dish towel” then roll about laughing at my strangeness.
    On one occasion I went to logie high school which was on blackness road dundee, my two cousins went there and proudly showed me off like some strange zoo animal.
    I remember my first class there a maths class where the teacher handed out a compass to everyone but collected fewer back at the end of the class because some of the boys had launched theirs towards the ceiling that had those kind of paper mache tiles in the hope that the point would stick in the ceiling and some did.The compass would gradually lose its grip and gravity would cause it to come crashing down near some unsuspecting pupil in the next class.
    Changed days…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a lovely picture you paint, Terence 🙂

      Interesting thought that it’s all about an obsession with military and being rulers over lesser peoples. Pompous idiots.

      Kids are really cruel. I went from Scotland to live in England just as I made it to secondary school. My life was made a misery by kids calling me “Jock” and insisting that my father had taken their fathers’ jobs.

      Hilarious really as my dad had been head hunted by a Swedish firm which provided hundreds of jobs in England.

      I soon learned the language (accent).

      But my problem was that speaking like the other kids had to stop the minute I walked back in through the door. There were quite a few faux pas there.

      A pal of mine in the last 70’s had the same problem as you with an idiot teacher who though t that being left handed was the work of the devil and it had to be stamped out of people.

      The result is that he writes right handed, but although he’s a super intelligent guy, his writing looks childish and ill formed.

      The ignorance …


  16. Slightly off topic but nae mind. Anybody else remember (1950s primary school in Brirish North Lanarkshire) getting writing lessons using the new-fangled biro?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL. It’s never a problem to be off topic here. And that wasn’t really> 🙂

      It must have been a blessing to teachers when biros came in and they stopped having to dish out ink. Not to mention parents who must have had to wash it out of white shirts.


    2. As a corrie-fister I had that problem with my hand smudging the perfectly (ah em) formed script.
      It was impossible to write with a dip pen and nib. “Ink exercises” were a nightmare for me and took hours, even with a fountain pen . It wan’t just the smudging caused by the trailing hand that caused the problem, getting the angle and pressure on the nib right was an added complication. Those damned ink exercises …hours of work and a kitchen tabled covered in blotting paper and ink spills from the bottle of Quink as you filled and re-filled that wee rubber tube reservoir in the pen. I remember though that some pens had a syringe reservoir, others had cartridges ( expensive though). Never discovered left-handed nibs until much later in life.

      Ball-point pens should have been easier, but the early ones weren’t. The ink either tended to blot and splodge or else it skipped. Even with a posh ballpoint the ink still didn’t dry in time to avoid the trailing hand smudge. Still went home from school with my hand smeared in ink. Most school work though was done in pencil ( easier to rub out!) I had the same problem with pencils as the hand still smeared graphite across the page as I wrote. If possible I tried to arm myself with HHB pencils rather than HB. Then again, HHB was harder to rub out neatly and discretely and keeping a point on the lead was a never ending ritual. The propelling pencil ( usually acquired in a “gift set” for bithday or Christmas), was OK until I ran out of leads. New leads that fitted could never be be sourced . I’m sure the manufacturers of the propelling pencils deliberately made sure leads weren’t standard or interchangeable.

      One thing though. If misbehaviour in class resulted in punishment, I re-call there was usually the option of the belt or lines. You can guess which one I opted for; it was so much easier to endure and avoided the possibility of having to “Do it again” because it was scruffy and unacceptable.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Talking-up Scotland: 'The Only SNP Apologist Standing!'

NOT conflating the aberrant with the norm like BBC

The Dunglishman

The bilingual blog about all things British


Love, theatre and ideas


British Wildlife & Photography


Why Scotland should be an independent country


Thoughts about Scotland & the world, from a new Scot

Divided We Fall

Bipartisan dialogue for the politically engaged

Insightful Geopolitics

Impartial Informative Always

Black Isle Media

We Provide The Facts, You Make The Decisions

The Broad Spectrum Life

Exploring Rhymes, Reasons, and Nuances of Our World

Musical Matters...

Mark Doran's Music Blog


Songwriter / Guitarist

Best in Australia

This site supports Scottish Independence


A comic about history and stuff by FT

My Life as Graham

The embittered mumblings of a serial malcontent.

Pride's Purge

an irreverent look at UK politics


Your Source For The Coolest Science Stories


The greatest WordPress.com site in all the land!

Mark Explores

Nature + Health



%d bloggers like this: