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Our School (1962)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

Intertitles explain that a secondary modern school should be three schools in one: an academic institution, a technical and commercial training ground, and a caring facility for those with learning disabilities. One such school is the Francis Combe school in Hertfordshire.

The entire school gathers in the hall for morning prayers. The camera follows an array of lessons from maths, English and cookery to classes in welding and a trip to a copper plating factory. The pupils are attentive during the factory trip and the teacher explains that they will set up the same process as a laboratory experiment in school.

An English teacher tells her pupils that she wants them not only to perform well in exams, but to be able to distinguish between 'good and bad writing'. The class is reading Doris Lessing, which is not a 'set text'.

After telling a pupil to stop chewing gum (and not to stick it under the desk) a teacher begins to question his class on whether they would change their mode of speech to fit the company they were in. In response to a pupil's answer, he stresses that having an accent is not synonymous with speaking incorrectly.

Children with learning difficulties are taught history with the use of illustrated cards. The teacher talks to pupils individually while the others work.

A classroom of girls discusses leaving school at 15. When asked why they want to leave school, one girl responds that she intends to settle down and have children. The teacher asks another girl why she wants to get married, and she diffidently replies that she wants a home and a car.

In an accounting class, a girl reads out details of her weekend spending while the teacher and her fellow pupils tease her about the bottle of port she won at bingo (eventually listed in the 'incomings' column).

The narrator applauds the school for its fresh techniques and the advances it has introduced in modes of education, while still upholding the traditional ethic of working hard with heads bent over textbooks. Children sign up for different extra-curricular clubs. During break time, boys play football and girls dance or skip in the playground.

While teachers are shown relaxing in the staff room the narrator explains the importance of a sympathetic attitude towards children, and the need to understand each child with the aid of parents.