Education | 1950 | Silent | B/W
County grammar school
"Nil Sine Labore"
"An introduction to the life of Tottenham County School"
School exterior - a large stone building on a road.
"The new boy invariably arrives too early."
An eleven year old boy dressed in school uniform stands outside the school and looks up at the building. He walks along the pavement and up the steps into the main entrance. Inside he walks into an empty corridor with Victorian style radiators. He stands and looks at wooden boards on the wall which record the achievements of pupils - such as scholarships. He continues walking down the corridor.
A door with the top panels glazed reads "Chemical Laboratory". The boy approaches the door and looks through where a pane of glass is missing. View of the boy from inside the room as he peers in. Chemistry equipment stands on a bench top - flask, stands, test tubes. The boy walks away from the room and up a flight of stairs. He comes to a door marked "Biology". He looks through the door which is ajar and sees cases of butterflies mounted on the wall. He smiles when he sees a guinea pig sitting in some straw, but is shocked by a human skeleton hanging in the corner. Close up of the skull. The boy gasps and slams the biology room door, running away down the corridor.
A clock face reads 8.40. Outside the school gates a boy wearing his cap pushes his bicycle in. In the playground children are walking around. A group of girls stands and chats. Another group huddle round a magazine or comic. The clock reads 8.45. The boys and girls walk in from their separate playgrounds. Many of the boys have open necked shirts, while the girls wear dresses and cardigans. The girls file into the school hall. An orchestra of strings and woodwind play music. The girls continue to file into the hall. Shot of a male teacher playing the organ. Staff enter and walk onto the stage to sit in wooden armchairs. Shot of the boys and girls (on separate sides of the hall) standing and looking at the stage. Close up of the organ pipes, the teacher's hands on the keyboard and his face as he plays. The children in the hall are singing the hymn. A girl and two boys in the orchestra play their violins. Others play clarinets, trumpet and French horn. Close up of printed music on a stave. View of brass players, hands as they play. A mistress looks on. Shots of girls and boys holding their hymn books and singing. The organist continues to play. On the stage a pupil stands at a lectern and reads.
"Assembly over, the day's work begins."
Shot of wooden desk as the top is opened and books are taken out. A female teacher writes on a black board or chalk board (something about the Tudors) and turns to look at the class. A boy looks at her and then down at his text book as he finds the appropriate page. The teacher stands at the front of the class pointing at points on a globe while the boys study their books. This is either a history or geography lesson. In a French lesson a master stands in front of the blackboard for dictation. The French word "dictee" is written above his head. Close up of a boy's hand writing in an exercise book, with the date and title written in French. In a home economics or domestic science lesson a teacher supervises while girls mould cakes into shape and put them on a baking tray. Another pair of girls make small pastry pies and brush their tops with a pastry brush. Close up of a hand opening an oven door and taking out a tray of scones. The girl closes the cooker door and walks towards the camera. In a woodwork lesson a boy uses a large wooden plane on a workbench. Another boy comes over to him to borrow a chisel, then goes to use a workbench behind. Closer shot of the wood planing, with the chisel being hit with a mallet in the background. A boy uses a ruler and square to draw lines for a plan. Close up of a bench drill being used to drill into a piece of wood. Another person makes small adjustments to a piece of wood which is being turned. A boy with glasses screws into the underside of an upturned table. A carpentry master measures a tray with a wooden rule. Another boy rubs oil or stain into the door of a piece of furniture. In a typing class a girl uses a large black typewriter and pushes the carriage across as she comes to the end of a line. Close up of her hands on the QWERTY keyboard. Close up of the page as the page moves along and the ribbon moves in front. A group of boys in a gym do star jumps in formation. They wear shorts and are bare chested. At the front the physical education teacher demonstrates the exercises - swinging his arms and bending over. On command from their teacher the boys run across the hall and bring out a box or horse with suede top to vault over. Other boys put crash mats on the floor and pull out other gymnastic equipment such as the beam and bars. Five boys line up on a high beam and roll over it heads first, so that they sitting on a lower beam. They then lower themselves off this backwards and onto the floor. Boys form two lines and run up to the beams, stand on the lower one, then raise themselves over the upper beam. Boys form a line and take it in turns to perform a handspring over a crash mat. The teacher supports their backs with his hand from the side. Next the boys do a running vault straight over the gym horse, again with the teacher standing nearby. Next they jump independently over the box. The teacher assists as the boys perform handsprings from the top of the box. Once again they stand in formation in the gym. They perform a balance with their arms outstretched, then run out of the hall.
The clock face reads one o'clock. A female teacher dismisses a mixed class who stand up behind their desks and file out of the room and then down a corridor. A dinner lady carries a stainless steel vat of food out of a kitchen. A group of dinner ladies wearing overalls and hair nets or head scarves serve food onto plates which are held out to them. Shots of children eating their school dinners. Girls queue up and are served pudding into bowls by the food supervisors. More gvs of food eating including pudding with custard.
"The work of the sixth form is more specialised."
Close up of a hand swirling a chemistry flask under a glass tap. A boy observes the procedure. A mixed group of bots and girls stand and work at the science benches with their equipment in front of them. A teacher wearing a white lab coat walks among them. He assists a girl as she adjusts her equipment. Two boys sit at their bench talking about their experiment which involves a round bottomed flask. A girl selects a chemical from the bottles in front of her and pours some into a test tube which she holds up at eye level. In another class room a teacher sits at a desk in front of the class. He gets up to draw on the axis of a graph on the chalkboard behind him. A boy looks into a microscope type instrument (although it is vertical rather than upright). Other students study sound using some sort of oscillator. A teacher leans over to assist. Other students do experiments involving electrical circuits. A boy measures the weight of a substance using a very fine balance with a glass case surrounding it. A teacher points something out to a girl using a circuit with a voltmeter (?). Close up of the face of the meter. A teacher wearing a suit sits with a couple of boys talking and writing. They appear engrossed in what he is explaining. A class sit at separate desks in a laboratory wearing white coats performing a dissection. They have table lamps trained on their work. Close up of boy's face as he concentrates. View of the dissected animal showing internal organs. A boy looks into a microscope. View of the slide which he sees. He draws a representation of his view. A teacher talks to him and the student rubs his chin in thought. A geography master stands at the front of a class and points at a map with a stick. A male teacher talks to a girl who nods her head with understanding.
A sign reads "Lost Property Please Collect Your Lost Property from the Dining Hall at 4 o'clock Today". A boy reads the notice. Two girls arrange the lost property on tables. Close ups of clothing, pens, keys, caps. A boy comes in - close up of his face as he smiles when he finds whatever it is he was looking for.
The hands on a clock advance from 4 o'clock to half past four. The two lost property girls sit looking bored with most of the items still on the table in front of them. One looks at her watch and they decide to pack up.
"After school the societies begin their activities."
A film society sign advertises a screening of "Oliver Twist". Further posters advertise other happenings: the science society have a talk on radio valves (!), the sixth form society have a talk - "What Is Psychology?". In chess club boys sit in pairs playing the board game. A male teacher plays against a female teacher. Close up of the board as he pushes a pawn forward. Various close ups of thoughtful faces and moves on the chess boards. At junior dramatic society three girls are on stage. Shots of boys and girls acting in the play. At stamp club two boys pore over a stamp scrap book. Pages of the book in close up as if from the point of view of the boys. A group of boys pass stamps to each other across the table (possibly swapping). Close up of stamps. In the Army Cadet Force a boy lies on his front on the floor and changes the magazine on a machine gun. A boy with a rifle over his shoulder shouts commands to those who are marching. The cadets march across the playground carrying their rifles over their shoulders. In sketch club an older boy concentrates on his picture. A teacher helps a girl with basket making. Another girl weaves using a loom. She passes the shuttle through the loom. Children make pots using potters wheels. Close up of foot operating pedal to turn the wheel. Close up of girl's face as she concentrates, and then her pot as she shapes it with her hands. A couple of people model using clay. The girl adds paint to the pot on her wheel with a brush as it turns.
"But life is not all work…"
Two girls start a hockey match. A group of boys in dark shirts and striped shirts play rugby. They get into a bit of a scrum. More gvs of the hockey and the rugby match, including an attempt at a conversion, but the rugby ball bounces off the crossbar. A girl dressed in tennis whites serves a ball. A group of four girls play ladies doubles on a grass tennis court. A cricket match - a boy runs towards camera to bowl the ball which is hit by the batsman.
"The Swimming Gala is an Annual Event."
Several boys stand on the edge of the swimming pool and dive in for the start of a race. The boys are watched by cheering spectators as the do the breast stroke and turn at the opposite end of the pool. The onlookers hang over the edge of the balcony or viewing gallery cheering and shouting. Further shots of the boys doing breast stroke and finishing the race. Another race starts - close ups of bots doing the front crawl. Close up of the spectators clapping at the end of a race. Boys are holding onto the edge of the pool ready to start a back stroke race. They kick off and swim across the pool. Shot of one boy as he turns at the edge. A girl in a swimming costume walks at the swimming pool edge. A female teacher rubs her back with a towel. A row of boys wearing trunks stand and watch a race from the edge of a balcony. A male teacher writes scores on a large black board. A boy performs a dive from a high board, then swims to the edge of the pool. Judges look on and write on the papers in front of them. Another boy dives - the wrought iron Victorian style balcony can be seen in the background. A girl in school uniform holds up a score card bearing the number five. Next to her a teacher writes notes. A girl dives - shot taken as if the camera is at the top of the diving board. Another number five score card is held up. A further boy dives, and then a girl does a running jump from a spring board. Onlookers lean to look over the wrought iron railing as further diving takes place. A number four score is held up. A girl performs a dive which begins with a hand stand on the edge of the board. She swims to the edge of the pool and the spectators clap. More scenes of racing - breast stroke, front crawl. One swimmer reaches the edge of the pool and another dives in over his head in a relay change over. In the distance swimmers wait at the other end of the pool for the next change over. Further shots of swimming, change overs and very excited crowds who are clapping and cheering. The race finishes and boys and girls (sitting separately) clap.
"Sports Day is the highlight of the school's athletic year."
A boy runs toward a high jump bar and leaps over it (without flopping) onto the sand on the other side. A group of boys sit gathered on the grass watching as a second attempts the high jump but knocks the bar off. A taller boy successfully leaps over the bar. A group of teenage boys stand waiting for the beginning of a race (probably long distance, as they are a large group bunched together, and not in lanes). A male teacher holds a starting pistol in the air and he mouths the words - "On your marks, get set, go!". The boys begin to jog around the grass track watched by onlookers. Spectators sit on the ground as the pack thins out and the race progresses. A boy runs through the finishing tape as the runner behind him attempts to sprint and catch up with him. A boy sits on the ground breathing heavily and adjusting his shoes while someone comes and pats him on the back. View from the end of the sand pit on a long jump runway as competitors run towards the camera and leap into the sand. An official stands next to the board to check the take off point. A student rakes and smoothes the sand at the end of the pit following a jump. Four girls race in a sprint towards the camera, and then past it and through the finishing tape. Two officials look at a stopwatch and record a time on paper. A girl stands and talks to a female official who is sitting at a desk. Five boys race towards and straight past the camera in a sprint. The two officials concentrate on their notes. A small group of boys jog around the track in a longer distance race. A group of girls sitting by the edge of the track watch. The race officials stand in a group talking to each other. Various views of girls leaping over the high jump bar watched by spectators. Shot of loud speakers on top of a van. Next to it, a man sits, talking into a hand held transmitter, presumably announcing results. Spectators - now including parents - look at their own score cards. People sit and chat. A girls' hurdle race takes place across the grass. An official writes in a note book. More racing - this time boys' hurdles. A starter begins a race between three older boys. They run around the track. An onlooker shields his eyes with his hand as he watches. The race finishes with the second placed runner not far behind the first. Officials takes notes and talk to the runners. A man points to his notes talks to two girls dressed in white dresses who stand either side of him. Crowds gather as a group of boys prepares for a tug of war. An official ties a white flag to the middle of the rope as the two teams pull it taught. The boys strain as they pull the rope. A watching boy grins. An older woman and man chat. The mayor - dressed in a suit and with ceremonial chains - stands in front of a black back drop next to a table filled with trophies and presentations. A mixed crowd of adults and children stand behind a rope fence and watch as school students go up to receive their prizes. The mayor presents various cups to the athletes and shakes their hands.
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