Education through the generations

CONNECTION: Ellen Blandford with her great-grandson, Charlie Waters. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

CONNECTION: Ellen Blandford with her great-grandson, Charlie Waters. Picture: BRENDAN McCARTHY

I can remember it all, most of it... I loved school - Ellen Blandford

GENERATIONS of children have received their education at Golden Square Primary School’s Laurel Street campus.

By term two next year however, the doors of history will close on Laurel Street as students and teachers move into the nearby Maple Street campus.

This Saturday the school will celebrate its contribution to the community during the 141 years it has been there.

One family has an unusually special connection to the school’s past and present.

Charlie Waters started prep at the school this year, 96 years after his great-grandmother Ellen Blandford enrolled in 1918.

At 101, Mrs Blandford might be forgiven for failing to remember the details of her schooling at Laurel Street.

“I can remember it all, most of it,” Mrs Blandford said.

“I loved school.”

Mrs Blandford started in grade 1 as there was no prep grade in those days.

She remembers being taught “to make hooks” with her letters during writing lessons.

One of her favourite subjects was arithmetic.

“That’s what they called it those days,” Mrs Blandford said.

“Mental arithmetic.”

She said students sat in pairs at desks with lids that lifted up.

“They (students) seem to congregate around little tables these days,” she said.

Mrs Blandford was a high achiever.

“In sixth grade we had a teacher called Mrs Richards. She gave us a test every week.

“Two boys and me were always top of the class.”

The teachers were strict and used physical punishment, but Mrs Blandford said she managed to stay in the good books.

“I didn’t fall foul of any of them,” she said.

“They (other students) used to get the strap, especially the boys.”

Mrs Blandford’s grand-daughter, Anita, said she was glad teachers didn’t punish children like that now.

Disciplinary methods have changed immensely over the years.

Sitting outside in the Laurel Street school playground, Mrs Blandford asked principal Barry Goode a telling question: “Do the naughty children get sent into the headmaster’s office?”

Mr Goode said that strategy was uncommon and if students misbehaved, he usually visited them, if at all.

He said students were more likely to come to his office for good reasons, not bad.

Unlike children today, Mrs Blandford left school at 13 to find work.

“I had to, I lost my father when I was young,” she said.

“It made it a bit easier on the mother once we started work.”

Mrs Blandford said she had more freedom than her great-grandson.

“We were free to go wherever we wanted,” she said.

“We used to go up bush and have a lovely time.”

Mrs Blandford said she supposed her mother knew where she and her five siblings were but that parents today had to be more careful.

“It isn’t safe to leave them (children) these days,” she said.

Times have changed but Charlie is enjoying his modern education.

His favourite part of school is “show and tell” time.

Stand-out items he’s brought to school include a lizard, a red aeroplane and a batman figurine.

Anita said Charlie’s progress had exceeded her expectations.

“He’s doing really well,” she said.

“I was a bit nervous, but he’s really blossoming. He’s doing so much better than I thought he would.”  

Charlie will move across with other students and staff to the Maple Street campus next year in term two, bringing the cycle of education at Laurel Street to an end.

To celebrate the life of the Laurel Street site, the school is holding a farewell celebration this Saturday.

 Principal Barry Goode said the public was invited from midday to wander through the school and view a historical display and a time capsule.

A choir will sing and there will be a barbecue and afternoon tea.  

“We had to have some sort of acknowledgement of this site,” Mr Goode said.

“There will be some sadness associated with moving off this prestigious campus.

“But you’ve got to move with the times.”

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