Social History | 1960 | Sound | B/W
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A film offering careers advice to school leavers in the Midlands, by exploring the options that were available to five types of children (depicted by young actors) when they were at school-leaving age. It includes good 1960s footage of a school, a youth club, and various factories, offices, hospitals, shops and farms.
As a jaunty instrumental tune begins, the film title appears against the image of a toy train moving along a circuit of track laid on a patterned carpet. A boy, in a dark sweater and tie, kneels to the left of the track, while a young girl sitting in a chair, carrying a doll, can be seen further to the left; the far wall is wallpapered; an electric fire unit can be seen to the right and a television set to the left; in the foreground on the left is a table on which boxes containing more trains can be seen. A close-up of the boy's head, as he reaches down to lift the train off the track. The boy puts the train back on the track, with the girl with the doll blurred behind him and a crossed pair of legs at top left. A close-up of the boy again, as a voice says 'That's you, John' and a voice adds that he had always wanted to be 'an engine driver'.
Another boy, in a lighter pullover over his shirt and tie, in front of a chair in which a small girl sits with a book resting on her outstretched legs; a voice says 'I don’t think Christopher had any idea what he wanted to be when he grew up'. A closer shot of the fair-haired girl with the book open before her, an older girl standing beside her, then sitting on the wooden arm of the chair; as the voice adds ' I don't think Jennifer had either'. A close up of the older girl's head against the wallpaper. The younger girl looks down at her book, the other girl's hand resting on the arm of the chair; as the voice adds 'And all Theresa thought about was her pony', the camera moves left a little to show that the book contains photographs of horses. A close view, looking over the girl, of the pages on which her hand rests, while her socks and shoes poke out beyond the top of the book.
As John's voice adds 'But I think you knew what you wanted to be, Cheryl', the girl holding the doll stands to the left of the fire, dressed in a nurse's outfit, while the boy representing John adjusts something her hand. She sits back in her chair and holds her doll. She sits in the chair, with the TV set in the background to the right; she gets up, leaves the doll on the chair and walks beyond the right of the picture, as the main commentary is heard for the first time: 'But that was a long time ago. What did they eventually do when they left school? And how did they each choose their particular job?'. The fire unit takes up the left half of the picture, while on the right, working backwards, Christopher sits on the floor, Theresa in the chair, Jennifer on the arm and Cheryl stands at the back to the left.
As we hear that John decided to go into engineering rather than become an engine driver, a teenage boy (representing John) plays table tennis in a youth club, while some girls dance behind. Two progressively closer side-on shots of John playing table tennis. A teenage girl faces us, as she looks on at the table tennis; we are told: 'But Cheryl didn't change her mind. She still wanted to nurse'. A close-up of a girl speaking to someone else off-screen. A more distant view from the same angle showing her speaking to another teenage girl to the left of her, both in front of a kitchen area, as we are told that 'Theresa was hoping to work with horses'; the camera moves rightwards, past teenage boys in jackets and ties, to a girl writing at a table beneath a notice board.
A closer view of the girl designing a poster at the table, as we hear that Jennifer had 'developed an interest in art'; the camera follows her left, as she gets up to pin a poster saying 'Join the Club Drama Group' on a side wall. A closer shot of her pinning the notice. A side-on view of two teenage boys playing chess, while another looks on from behind; we hear that Christopher was still undecided, 'but was determined to work out of doors'. A more distant shot from the same angle, before we follow John and Cheryl as they walk past; and the commentary starts to explain that 'by the time they were in their last year at school, they were seriously considering what they were going to do'.
A group of teenagers in school uniforms file along a corridor, from right to left on the screen; the camera follows them leftwards, then watches them walk away from us towards a flight of stairs. They appear at the top of the stairs, on the right of the picture, and we follow them as they walk away from us through a door. They come through a classroom door towards us, and walk beyond the left of the picture.
As we are told that they have an opportunity to meet a Youth Employment Officer (YEO) at the school, a besuited man looks towards the class, then turns side-on to us to write 'MONEY' on a blackboard, beneath the heading 'CHOOSING YOUR JOB', before he turns to face the class again. A class of teenagers facing us, with half-filled bookshelves in the distance and lights above, as we hear that the YEO interviews each student individually. We look over the heads of those in the front row towards the YEO adding the heading 'FUTURE PROSPECTS' to the list that now also includes 'HAPPINESS' and 'HOLIDAYS'. A close-up of him as he writes 'MARRIAGE!' beside the last entry, before looking round to the class. A closer view of the class, with part of the shelves still visible at the back; at the front, Cheryl and John exchange a smile. A close-up of John, as we hear that he wanted to go into engineering because he was good with his hands and had enjoyed metalwork at school; the camera moves down to his hands on the desk.
John's hands turn a kind of spanner on top of what is perhaps a vice. A more distant view of him in the metalwork room, wearing an apron over his school uniform, with tools, workbenches and two other boys visible around him, and windows along the right of the picture; we follow him to the windows, where he places what he has been working on into a lathe.
A close-up of a hand turning a small wheel attached to a machine. A bespectacled male machinist in a white coat watches the machinery that we have just seen him working. The camera moves rightwards along the machinery. A young man in a Fred Perry shirt collects springs from the machine into a bowl. A close-up of his hand collecting the springs as they spill out of the machine. He tests or measures them with a long pen-shaped device, as we hear that 'similar kinds of machines are used in many industries'. Three teenage boys work at assembling parts of a machine. A longer view, showing their teacher in overalls to the left of them, and the identical parts that they are working on in front of them. The closer shot of the three boys at work.
John and Cheryl face us, with more of their class behind them, as we are told that John was also good at academic as well as practical subjects. A brief shot of the YEO at the blackboard. As we hear that he was able to choose to be an apprentice, we follow rightwards another teenage boy in a donkey jacket, beside a spectacled man in a suit, as they walk across the picture into a workshop entrance. A close-up of the sign saying 'APPRENTICES' beside the doorway that they have just entered. They walk away from us and the boy is introduced to another similarly bespectacled man in white overalls, who leads him away.
The boy is being trained behind a machine, with the man in white overalls and two other apprentices around him. A close-up of the senior man beside the boy working at a machine, while the hand of another apprentice can be seen adding a section to the part that they are working on.
We look side-on at another apprentice, to whom the senior man walks from the left and gives assistance, as we hear that 'they are given a basic practical knowledge which will fit them for all types of engineering work'. A close shot of him appearing to file a thick cylindrical part with a half-moon-shaped device. An even closer view, so that his head is no longer in the picture. He turns a wheel and moves part of a machine towards the thick cylinder. A closer view of him moving the part of the machine carefully into place against the cylinder.
The senior man assists two other apprentices at a machine. One of them reaches up to turn a wheel. A close, side-on shot of another apprentice moving another contraption backwards and forwards, by means of a pole that he holds in front of his right shoulder.
We are told that apprentices continue to study, learning the theoretical as well as the practical side, as we look down towards the end of a classroom, with a number of young men seated on the right with their backs to us, while a line of young men files in and sits down at the front, followed by the bespectacled man who had originally greeted the new boy, who follows them to the front of the class. A side shot of the lecturer, a sign saying 'HIGH DUTY ALLOY APPRENTICE TRAINING SCHEME' visible to the right of him.
A view of the class of young men, with rocker quiffs much in evidence. A close-up of the first new apprentice, with two others in the background. The lecturer points to a diagram on the blackboard, then walks to the right. He picks up a model from beneath the sign described above, then holds it up to the class at his desk. A view from the back of the class over the shoulders of the apprentices. The lecturer holds the model and points to the diagram on the blackboard. He stands beside his desk, then walks towards where the sign is. A close -up of his hand putting the model back in the display there, to a stand that is labelled 'Samples of Work By Junior Apprentices Up To 17 Years Of Age'. A fuller shot of this display of parts and tools in front of the sign.
We hear that 'many boys want to be draughtsmen', and that most people who work in a drawing office have served an apprenticeship, as a young man works at a plan on a huge easel, with various rulers suspended over it, while an older man with a goatee beard stands to the right of him, before he walks into the background. A longer view of a row of such plans being worked on. We hear that 'an engineering apprenticeship could lead to a number of things', as we look at a large office, with a secretary at a typewriter to the left, and a man smoking a pipe looking across a desk at a grey-haired man, beside whom another stands listening. A side-on shot of this group, as the grey-haired man points to a diagram, and we hear that he 'organises the work for a whole department, even a whole factory'. A closer shot of him using the telephone, with the man standing visible behind him. An even closer shot of him on the telephone.
Three parked cars face us to the left of two petrol pumps; a Mini bearing a 'GB' sticker appears from the bottom of the picture and turns left in front of the parked cars, as we are told that the garage mechanic also needs to serve an apprenticeship. The Mini moves away from us into a garage. A close view of a mechanic to the left of the Mini as it is raised above ground level. While the car has been raised to the left of the picture, another mechanic perhaps solders something beside one of its back wheels. The first mechanic at work beneath the raised Mini.
A man in overalls takes a rod out of an oven-like machine. A close shot of him positioning the rod on what resembles a large trunk of wood on which a number of slots and nooks have been carved for holding these rod in position. A fuller view of the man doing this. A closer shot of him seeming to straighten the rod before removing it and returning it to the oven-like device where he had first placed it. Another, younger man in overalls attaches one rod to another to form a complete fishing rod; several other pairs of halves lean against a workbench beside him. A more distant view as he stretches out the complete rod towards the left. A view almost facing him, as he props the full rod against the bench.
As we hear that some boys prefer to use their physical strength, a few boys in the school gym turn over on a bar. A closer shot of this.
Hands hold a piece of iron with tongs. A young man is seen crouching, holding 'white hot metal' with tongs beneath a contraption that pounds it into shape. A more distant view, showing another man standing beside the machine. 'It is surprising how quickly people get used to noise like this, and don't even notice it after a time'; a young man lifts a piece of iron with tongs out of an oven-like container, where others are stacked. We follow him to the left, as he carries the iron in the tongs and rests it on a kind of metal barrel. Another young man picks it up with tongs and places it into a large machine. He lifts it out and places it to the left. Another heavy machine pounds something, a sign saying 'WORK AREA 8B' visible to the left. A young man and the hands of another man can be seen on the far side of another heavy machine, as they place (then remove) pieces of metal beneath a powerful contraption that pounds them against a mould of some kind.
The teenagers in the school classroom face us again, with bookshelves visible behind. A side-on view of one table, with Jennifer in the foreground. Her hands sketch a fashion model on a pad of paper. The camera moves along a shop window, behind which a woman dresses a mannequin in women's clothes. A closer view through the window, as we are told that window-dressing jobs are difficult to get. Had she worked as a shop assistant, she might have been able to arrange displays: a woman with her back to us passes a hat to another woman on a ladder who displays hats on a stand around a flower arrangement. Two successive close shots of the woman working on the display. Jennifer might have worked in a florist's shop: a woman sits side-on to us working on a display, while a number of plants and bouquets can be seen in front of some windows to the left of the picture. Two close shots of the florist at work.
We are told that there were dozens of appropriate jobs for Jennifer in factories, as we see a woman in a chunky sweater working at a table covered in multiple covers and inner pages for a book (the word 'Cambridge' can be made out at the top and 'FICTION' at the bottom of the cover), while another woman collects those that she has 'interleaved'. The other woman walks away from us with some copies. The previous close-up.
A young woman in a book-making factory walks away from us to a table on the left. A close shot of her pasting a rectangle of cloth or paper. She pastes the spine of an unfinished book, stacked on top of some others. A close shot of her attaching and smoothing the piece of cloth onto the spine, lifting the book off the pile, then completing the job on the table.
A woman ties a fish-hook to a nylon thread. A close-up of her hands at work. A view along a table at which four young women are inspecting needles. A close-up of one woman, as she searches for crooked needles in a stack. Her fingers feel for any in the stack that are at fault. The woman lifts up the needles with a kind of scoop onto a brown paper band; we are told: 'Many girls enjoy factory work because they work with a number of other girls, and they can talk to each other quite easily, while still keeping up a good speed'. Two successive shots of her fastening the paper band around her stack of needles, before she lifts them onto another sheet of paper so that she can check the 'eyes' on one side, brushing them with an instrument so that she can spot the 'broken ones'. A closer view, as she turns over the roll to inspect it from the other side and pulls out a few faulty 'points'.
A woman works at a simple machine 'in the spring-making industry'. A close, side-on view of her feeding the part into the machine. We look over her left shoulder, as she inserts the unfinished spring with her left hand and works the machine with her right. A woman works at a machine that produces metal nails. Two progressively closer shots of her at work. As we are told that there are some jobs that are 'done mainly by the machines themselves', a young woman feeds sheets of paper into a machine that rules lines onto it. A close view of her doing this.
A brief glimpse of Cheryl in the classroom. The YOE lifts a chart headed 'WORK WITH PEOPLE' onto a stand where one saying 'FACTORY WORK FOR GIRLS' has been displayed. Cheryl looks on approvingly. A close-up of her Prefect's badge. Two shots of her providing an arm-sling for another schoolgirl in a first aid class, as we are told that she attended these as part of her Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
We are told that she was advised to stay on at school to get two O Levels at least, so that she would be able to train as a 'state-registered nurse' and not just as a 'practical nurse': the camera moves rightwards over a class of trainee nurses, with a high number of Afro-Caribbean students among them (as the commentary puts it, 'all kinds of people, from this country and many others'), black nurses. Eventually the camera rests on the pin-striped lecturer at the front of the class. A side-on shot of the lecturer, white handkerchief in jacket pocket, speaking beside an open window. The camera focuses on one female nurse in particular, moving down to her taking notes in an exercise book. A view of her in the front row of students.
A nurse walks into a ward from the right of the picture, carrying a tray of cups and saucers, and walks round to the far side of a bed that lies across the screen to collect some crockery from a female patient. A nurse walks towards us with a trolley, then across the picture in front of two beds, to a side wall where she picks up a syringe and walks towards the bed beside that wall. A close shot of her giving an injection in the left arm of the young woman in that bed. The patient bites her lip a little.
The camera moves right from a reflection in a mirror of a hairdresser with a seated client to the actual people. A young woman in a hairnet walks leftwards across the screen and sits down before a mirror, and a male hairdresser appears behind her. Side-on to us he brushes her blonde perm. The reflection in the mirror from over her left shoulder, with the actual people just visible at the right edge of the picture.
A young woman takes a pair of shoes from a stack of shoeboxes on the shelves, then the camera follows her left to where she fits them on a large woman sitting in front of a display of handbags. A close shot of the customer lifting up one of the shoes, as we are told that 'some of the customers can be very trying'. A closer shot of the customer shaking her head. The woman passes the shoe back to the assistant and gets up. The assistant looks towards the camera and mouths something. The customer gets up impatiently and walks towards us. The assistant picks up the shoes and returns them to the stacks of shoeboxes.
A bespectacled male shopkeeper, in a white coat, looks across a counter towards a female customer in a thick coat and hat; stacks of tins and boxes of cornflakes can be seen on shelves behind him. The woman reaches to the cigarette shelves to the right of the counter and passes something across to him, behind a large set of scales that sit on the counter. The shopkeeper's hands jot down figures on a piece of paper, as he tots up the different items in paper bags before him. He takes a note passed to him by the woman and moves behind some shelves at the side to where he keeps the till. Facing us, he counts out change into the woman's hands.
A view along a small supermarket aisle. A bespectacled female member of staff, beside some shelves holding jars and bottles of sauces, adjusts a price stamp, while a female customer exchanges a few words with her in passing: we are told that in such a shop 'most of the time is spent filling up the shelves'. The assistant prices bottles. A female customer stands at a till, with her trolley and leather shopping bag, while a cashier in a white coat stands at the cash register. The cashier moves items along the conveyor belt (a box of Surf washing powder stands out), as she chats to the customer on the left. A close-up of the cashier's hands tearing off a receipt, as she finishes.
Christopher is followed leftwards through thick grass and then up a hillside, the hood of his waterproof over his head and a rucksack on his back. His legs and feet in walking socks and boots move through the grass. We look up at him through long grasses as he reaches the top of the hill. We follow a man up a ladder until he is silhouetted against the sky, holding bricks on a carrier attached to a pole held against his left shoulder. A man shovels something to the left, which we follow towards a concrete mixer. He tips something from a tin into the mixer. Another builder paints some wooden beams. A more distant view of the whole building site.
A farmer in a peaked cap, carrying an iron tub, is followed rightwards in front of stacked bales of hay. With his back to us, he climbs over a low solid wooden wall. He pours out swill into a trough. Some pigs emerge through a door towards us. The farmer stands up and looks round. A view from above the pigs, as they tuck into their food, a couple of them looking up at the camera. The farmer is followed leftwards through a field of cows. He herds them, then the camera moves rightwards to watch them move away from us through an open gate. Cows file away from us through a door into a barn. The farmer, in overalls now, watches a calf feed on the teat of a cow. Two shots of this. The farmer crouches down to attach a milking device to the cow.
We focus on another table in the school classroom, which includes Theresa, who loved horses, but 'found that only very lucky people managed to get paid jobs looking after them'. A closer shot of her with other schoolchildren. A young woman gets off a horse facing the left of the picture. Looking towards us, she takes off the saddle from the horse, whose rear faces us, as we are told that some farmers do employ people to look after their horses. Her hands lift up a bucket by the handle. She appears from the right and approaches some stable doors, behind which are some cows. A cow feeds from the bucket which she holds. Hens are seen on some wire mesh. She collects eggs in a basket. A closer view of her reaching into the coops, then shutting their lids and walking away from us.
Theresa is seen in a different classroom, with books before her on the desk; we are told that because she was good at written work, she decided to keep horse riding as a hobby and to find work in an office. A side-on view of her in class. Her hand writes and turns the page of a book.
A young woman, carrying a pile of post, walks away from us into a post-room, where two other female staff are silhouetted against a window through which sunlight shines. A close-up of the pile of unsealed post being laid down. Another young woman takes a stack of white envelopes to the table at the side. She flicks through them and walks towards the window in the background, leaving another woman weighing a parcel on scales in the foreground. A close, side-on view of her passing the letters through a machine of some kind. A fuller view of the three female staff at work in the post-room.
A close shot of a hand working at a punch card machine used in accountancy. The female operator is seen from behind, preparing 'special cards which are used in machine accounting'. A view along a room, in which two of these machines are being operated on the left of the picture; a senior woman walks over to the woman at the machine furthest away, before we follow her rightwards to a door. The same woman appears through the other side of the door, in an office in which there are a number of box files; she leaves something there, then leaves by the same door.
Another, younger woman walks across to the same spot. She picks up the prepared cards, walks towards us a little, then drops the cards into a large machine that does 'complicated sorting and calculation'. A close-up of cards passing through the machine. Two successive shots of her taking the cards out of the sorting machine and stacking them together again. A flap on another machine is closed, then the camera moves up to show another young woman placing a stack of cards into this machine at the top, before the camera follows her to the right as she examines the print-out being produced by the machine at the top.
The schoolchildren in the classroom get up in front of our view, as we look towards the YEO collecting up his files at his desk. Some schoolchildren walk away from us through the classroom door. The YEO, at the right edge of the picture, takes down from the stand, one after another, the 'WORK IN AN OFFICE' chart, 'WORK IN THE OPEN AIR', WORK WITH PEOPLE', 'FACTORY WORK FOR GIRLS', and 'WORK WITH MACHINES'.
As some schoolchildren pass across our view, we see Christopher, 'the outdoor type', speaking to the YEO. As two policemen walk along a suburban street towards us, we hear that Christopher was torn between the Services and the Police force. As we hear that Jennifer now works in a box-making factory, we look down a workroom where two women are at work. A side-on view of Jennifer dipping some dark paper into a tray of glue, then lifting it onto a table. A close shot of her lifting a cardboard lid onto the glued paper, then picking that up and smoothing the paper down.
Theresa walks into the picture from right and sits down at a typewriter, putting a sheet of paper into it, then answering a telephone beside her. A close-up of her on the telephone. As we hear John's voice explain that he took 'the new CSE exam' in Metalwork and Technical Drawing, which led onto an apprenticeship, he faces us at a machine in a factory, before he gets up and is followed by the camera. John and other employees leave the factory by an exit on the right of the picture, moving towards parked cars.
Cheryl, as a nurse, walks along a corridor towards us. She comes through another doorway, facing us, and looks into the 'SISTER'S OFFICE', before reappearing and walking beyond the left of the picture. She walks across a corridor in front of some windows. She walks away from us, then turns right. The commentary concludes 'What are you going to do when you leave school? Think carefully. The choice is yours'; John waits outside the hospital beside a sign for the 'Outpatients Department'. The camera moves rightwards to follow Cheryl leaving. She meets John by the sign and they walk away from us along the pavement.
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