Growing up in the 50's and 60's

What it was like going to School & College in the 1960s

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1960's - School and College Life

A education in the 60's. Different system, different world ?

By 1960, I was in my third year at School and this was the time you chose the subjects you'd be taking for the rest of your education, This meant saying goodbye to subjects such as Music and Gardening which was a shame as it's those two subjects which came to be a major part of my life!

From there it was all about achieving your RSA's and GCE' 'O' Levels. Not being a great academic, I already knew that I probably didn't have the potential for University, so tended to not work at a rate which would mean me actually having to do homework every night!

The education system was very much based around Grammer and Secondary education and living in Sevenoaks, your place of education normally prescribed your social life for you, although that was all to change as the 60's went on. There was still a 'looking down and looking up' status going on.

This was reflected even in Scouting where the Grammer boys would belong to one Group and the Secondary another, even if it meant you scouting on the other side of town to where you lived.
Also in Sport where Grammer would play Cricket / Rugby and Secondary would play Football and, well, Football !!

In other words, your education also put you in a social bracket. If at a Secondary, you were associated more with the working class even if your parents were well off and had a big house etc. - Pity!

I decided not to take my GCE's at Wildernesse, but to move on to West Kent College at Tunbridge Wells where, so I plumped for a Technical Drawing based Course which would bring in Art, something I was relatively interested in and quite good at!
Unfortuneately this meant taking Physics which to be honest, I wasn't interested in one bit and every Class was a race to see who could be thrown out the first!
For me it was making Magnesium Missiles and throwing them out of the second floor window onto the street below - grand flashes!

One morning we didn't make it to College atall. About 15 of us were having a great time sitting on top of the double decker bus moving from one side to the other causing a wonderful see-saw effect. The Bus Driver didn't find it being as much fun as us and when arriving at our College stop, didn't stop, didn't open the automatic doors and drove us all down to Tunbridge Wells Police Station where we all got a good ticking off.

Somehow and to this day, I don't know how, I got 'O'Level passes in Maths, English, Technical Drawing, Art and an 'A' Level in Art for good measure.
I could understand them all to some degree because I did have some talent for the subjects, except Maths. I can only assume there was divine intervention!

But to be honest, the exams I took were simply paperwork and I never had to refer to them in any job I applied for then, or since.
In fact, for almost all jobs then, you could say you had 12 'O' Levels and they wouldn't check it out.
At the end of it all, I got into the business I wanted to be in, Advertising and I was quite happy with that.

Nowadays, going to University is achievable by most kids as long as they put some effort into their school work. University appears to be more expected and just another step forward in education.
In the early 60's, University was about being fairly 'well to do' and there simply weren't enough of them to put some bright youngsters into. They were 'distant' to many and it seemed only for the chosen few.

But even after you'd finished your eductaion, your social life was more or less determined by what School you'd been to.
Because my Father played there, I was playing Cricket for Sevenoaks Vine, a very socially centred Cricket Club and never felt a part of it.
I returned to play for them in the 1980's and had no problem.

By the time I was at College though, the swinging 60's had started and you were on brain overdrive to keep up with the new sounds of music and TV entertainment without the infamous 'Interlude' every evening.

Education in those days seemed to determine your life destiny more so than today. A lot of the system was very good, a lot of it was not.
That sounds a bit of a 60's statement in itself!


Cambridge University
(I didn't go there!)

Only because I didn't have the right hairstyle !!


Growing up in
50s and 60s
The 1960s

50's & 60's In the Blog

1960's Year by Year

Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms. Alan Corenk