A lifestyle blog from a forty-something mum

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Memories of Sixth Form - 1980s Style

Individuality, creativity, be yourself.Both of my new jobs involve looking after children. The first, mentoring teens at a sixth form, is something I've been doing as a volunteer for a very long time - so it was rather lovely to be offered a paid role. I worked as an exam invigilator last summer and was asked to apply for a permanent job as a mentor early this year.

Whatever your pre-conceived ideas about teens today, let me tell you that they work far harder than I ever did at their age.

In the 80s, being bored was something you experienced almost every day. This meant you were more 'creative' with your time and often got into a considerable amount of mischief.

For the record I'm not sure I should be sharing any of this on the blog. That isn't going to stop me though...

1. Back in the 1980s, my own sixth form days were spent mostly relaxing in the common room playing pool (badly) or darts (v. badly) and listening to U2, Iron Maiden or Tears For Fears. The latter was dependent on M remembering his tape player and locating a tape that the temperamental device hadn't yet shredded.

2. As long as you turned up to lessons and handed in a piece of homework once in a while - you were mostly left to your own devices. This effectively meant you could get away with a lot.

3. It was perhaps unfortunate that I discovered boys during this time. G was normally pretty shy, but dared to ask me out at a party after downing a couple of pints of snakebite. The relationship fizzed on and off before fizzling out completely when his dad got a new job in Milton Keynes and the family moved away. As there were no mobiles and the internet had yet to be invented, we wrote to one another for a while before deciding it was hopeless. Last I heard he was training to be a butcher, which is kind of funny as I've been vegetarian since the age of 7.
4. There were no AS level exams in lower sixth as it was called back then. Instead, lower sixth was seen as a chance to party, before attempting to catch up with anything you might have missed in the final year.

5. I didn't live very far from school and as there was no CCTV on any of the school gates, it wasn't unusual to sneak out during the afternoon and visit a friend's house to watch MTV, or go home and read the latest edition of Smash Hits or Just Seventeen.

6. The closest thing we had to Facebook was a notice board in the common room. It was here that we anonymously posted fictitious problems that probably weren't troubling our friends and took turns to come up with inspired and hilarious answers. I should point out that this was never malicious - only ever good-natured and everyone had the right to remove anything they didn't like.

7. Heck, we even went to the pub on a Friday lunchtime and no one questioned our age or asked to see ID before serving alcohol. Sometimes we'd even spot the teachers in there. Occasionally, they'd even buy us a drink.

8. As the teachers never set foot in the common room, they were unaware that we had a set of road signs as decorative items. As we always hid them in a cupboard at the end of the day, they weren't spotted for quite some time. We did eventually return every single one and write a letter of apology.

I suspect that many of our antics would now result in detention, letters home, being put on report, exclusion, or possibly even being expelled. I like to think that the teachers thought our behaviour was character building.
I kept a diary throughout my time at high school and reread each one a few years ago before deciding to burn them for fear they might get in to my daughters' hands someday and they'd realise that their mum wasn't quite as angelic as she made out.

What do you remember from your own days at sixth form?

I like to think that mine were memorable for all the right reasons.

Copyright ©2016 Izzie Anderton


  1. I love this! You've brought back some real memories.
    We used to go to friends' houses in the day too and make big meals from the contents of their fridges. I was quite well-behaved, but I had a friend who put a kipper down the radiator in the Head of VI Form's office at the end of term. Poor bloke had no idea why his office stank so much after the holidays!

  2. And you have such an angelic face on your twitter profile Izzie. I'm shocked, shocked I tell ya, at these revelations ;-)

  3. Hi Izzie, I never went to sixth form, I did get into college, but decided it wasn't for me and went off travelling instead. However I do remember sneaking off home early during my final year at school.

    You didn't really burn your diaries did you? They could have made you a fortune one day, once your girls are no longer at an impressionable age, of course!


  4. Huge congratulations on your new jobs! I remember sixth form being really difficult academically and socially, most of my friends had left by then. I also remember the freedom of so called study periods, I never did much in those times!x

  5. Burning your diaries! Street cred right there. Sounds like you had great fun xx


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