School Memories of the 80s

Mar 1, 2021 | Blog Posts

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Going to school in the 80s was a completely different experience!

Schoolkids today may find it hard to imagine life without their mobile phone or tablet, and similarly their school is likely to have a well-stocked computer suite, but back in the early 1980s, it would be amazing if your classroom even had its own computer!

Tech has advanced so rapidly in the past 40 years that today’s generation wouldn’t believe how basic it was in their parents’ day. For most schools, a computer was highly expensive. It would usually be kept in a locked room, to be used under supervision.

Lesson types

Teachers had more freedom to run the type of lessons they liked in the 1980s, compared with today’s more regimented system – there was no internet, so you couldn’t browse to find the information you needed. Everything had to be pre-prepared by teachers, who would work hard before and during every lesson to get pupils through their exam-based courses.

Teachers also had more discretion and could use their initiative when marking. Today, examinations have detailed, pre-prepared marking schemes, so there’s little chance for teachers to use their own judgement.

In the last days of the summer term, before breaking up for the summer holiday, pupils might be allowed to have their lesson outside on the playing field on a sunny day. It seemed much more relaxed in the 80s.

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Watching TV

One of the highlights of a dull school day was going into the classroom and seeing the TV being wheeled into the room. This meant a whole lesson spent watching a BBC educational programme, such as Badger Girl, in the broadcaster’s Look and Read series.

The programmes had plenty of entertaining themes, including finding out more about our local communities, in the Near and Far series, looking at life in Britain’s coastal resorts.

Other programmes produced by BBC Schools TV included This Sporting Life for 13 to 16-year-olds, from 1979 to 1982; Good Health, which ran from 1974 to 2007, for 11-year-olds; and the geography series, Near and Far, also for 11-year-olds, from 1975 to 1988.

Outside school, certain TV shows typify the 80s. Plenty of cartoons that originated in the decade remain cult viewing today, such as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Ghostbusters, The Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Transformers, to name but a few.


So, what games were popular in the 80s? Long before the days of the Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation and other gaming consoles that now occupy so much leisure time, the decade was a bit of a transition period, as although some board games were popular, these were the early years of basic gaming consoles.

Connect Four and the good old-fashioned games such as Monopoly sat side-by-side with the latest electronic games, including many that were educational and could be played on the school’s computer.

For those kids lucky enough to have their own gaming console at home, the popular games of the day included the 1985 Nintendo game, Super Mario Bros, Mattel Electronics’ Dungeons and Dragons in 1981, and The Legend of Zelda in 1986.

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Many people think of the 1980s as an era of mullet haircuts and Dynasty-style shoulder pads, but there was so much more to youth fashions than you would think! It was an era when emerging stars like Madonna, films such as Flashdance and club trends were influencing young people in all walks of life.

Trends that became popular outside school, such as denim jackets, oversized wear, stonewash denim and bright neon clothing in pink, green and orange, were accompanied by “jelly” shoes, bracelets and accessories.

Workout clothes such as leggings, leotards, headbands, wristbands, legwarmers, sports bras and trainers were a regular sight in the high street, and casual workout clothes crossed over into fashion. Leggings were first developed as fashion items in the 1980s.

With big shoulders came big hair – for boys and girls! In fact, for girls the bigger the hair the better!

At the other end of the spectrum, the post-punk goth look saw youths go “anti-fashion”, dressing mainly in black, with plenty of jewellery, dark make-up and big, backcombed hair. Of course, this was a look reserved for weekends and outside school.


You say 80s, I say Woolworth’s!  It was standard practice to cover your school exercise books in brightly coloured, sticky-back plastic or stickers from Smash Hits magazine, depicting pop stars of the day. Failing that, you would probably scribble the name of your favourite bands all over your school bag with a marker pen – anybody else remember that?

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Secondary school was a strange world, where it really mattered what type of bag you carried your books in, but at least most of us could enjoy the use of a school locker to lighten the burden.

Of course, lockers are a godsend for schools in more recent years. The recently enforced ban on mobile phone use in schools across the UK has seen many education establishments insisting that any mobile devices should be locked away between 8.25am and 4pm – not something that any of us growing up in the 80s had to worry about!

For the very best in school lockers, Crown Sports Lockers can fulfil your every need. Keep pupils’ books, clothing, bags, gadgets and other items safe and secure with our complete locker solutions.