Matthew Munson: A look back at school days

Holy Cross school By Honeyweize, from Wikimedia Commons

Do you have many memories of your school days? I’m 37, and I went to school in the 80s and 90s; my memories of those days are almost non-existent. I don’t know how I’ve managed to forget so much, but 13 years of my life seem like an intense blur with occasional flashes of vivid memory.

I went to school right here in Thanet; I spent my primary school years at Newlands, my secondary education at Holy Cross, and my sixth form days at Dane Court.

Holy Cross later shut down and was taken over by Hereson, before it too shut down and the building was demolished to make way for housing. There was an opportunity for ex-students to have a tour round before it vanished for good, and a friend of mine did go – but I didn’t. Given that I remembered so little about my days there, and that I didn’t have a lot of strong emotions attached to it, I felt I’d have been something of a hypocrite. I’m only in touch with one person from my school days, and that suits me – I’ve made all the friends I want to keep since leaving school.

Going to Dane Court for two years was an interesting experience; I came into a school where friendship groups had mostly set and I felt a little (alright, a lot) out of place. That’s no comment on the standard of teaching, which was brilliant; I walked away pleased with my A-Levels and with a new-found confidence in my abilities. It was to be the end of my pure educational phase of my life, and that was okay.

But my primary school … I find myself wishing I had more memories of such a formative time in my life. I didn’t, of course, realise that those years were going to be formative, but when you’re five years old, the word formative probably won’t feature even on the fringes of your awareness. That’s as it should be, but it would be lovely to be able to look back and see how situations affected me.

I remember one of my first teachers taking what felt like a personal dislike to me; perhaps that’s affected by the passage of over 30 years, but it’s a visceral shock of emotion that still sits with me even now.

But more than that, I remember flashes of positive; the new library being opened and falling in love with all the books; Mrs Cooper giving me the chance to write some fiction for the very first time when I was 10; Mrs Lawrence and her calming, melodic voice; Mr Curran, my final teacher, and his honest manner and determination to see me right into my next school. He introduced me to Mrs Brown, my most favourite teacher of all times and a first form teacher at secondary school, when she came to visit the school. I’ve always been thankful to Mr Curran for that introduction alone.

I wonder what other peoples’ experiences of primary school – and school more generally – was? Do you have many vivid memories of that time? Did your primary school set you up for later years, or did you loathe your time there?


  1. My memories are quite vivid and I have used some of them in my writing. But how real are they? I have one friend from the junior school days and our memories are diffent! Infant, junior and senior years were neatly set in three very different places, so perhaps that’s why I have retained the memories.

  2. Very glad you liked the library at Newlands, my husband, Dave King, built it and I was a gofor for him.

    • How wonderful, Sue! It was thirty years ago and I still remember the wonder I felt at seeing such a wonderful space. You should both be so proud 🙂

      • Thanks Matthew. To be honest as we go around Thanet there’s not many roads or schools where Dave didn’t work during his self employment. Newlands was our favourite as all four of our children were there too.

  3. My name andrew elsey i went to Holy Cross 1985 till 1989 best school teachers were nice best views over the sea to France. It shame they knocked it down for houses.

  4. I went to Holy Cross and left in 1979! Have some good memories not that I was a fan of school. I still have friends from HC and only the other week took a taxi and the driver asked if the lady waving on the door step was Elizabeth? She went to school with her and I added you also went to school with me. The dinner ladies were always fun too, not that the food was to my taste! I still can’t stand coconut topped sponge and pink custard!

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