Back in Time for School – 20 October 2021 – BBC Two

Series 1 Episode 5 of 8 – In this episode, our time-travelling pupils and teachers arrive in the 1970s. It is out with the old and in with the new as they leave behind their 1960s secondary modern and embrace the experimental 70s and a comprehensive.

In their first lesson, the boys and girls are finally mixed, as they learn about commerce and air travel, complete with a life-size model plane structure in the classroom. Role playing sees some of the class try their hand at being a pilot, air hostess or air traffic control, while others are confined to being the passengers and commenting on the service! Most of the class board a Midland Red bus and depart for a special school field trip to an iconic local attraction – Spaghetti Junction. Health and safety was taking a back seat in this decade, and our modern class experience the highs of a trip to a motorway site, to count the passing traffic.

Meanwhile, three pupils have been detained at school for their fashionably rule-breaking long hair. They use their time to form a union, aimed at fighting back against the teachers. In 1973, thanks to the bold demands of the Schools Action Union, this comprehensive becomes a free school – and abandoning the rules has the teachers more than a little worried! The first thing to go – school uniform, followed rapidly by punishment. Our class does as 50% of Birmingham’s schools in this period did, as they join together for a home economics lesson. Today, it is curry on the menu, and despite never having cooked before, some of the boys improvise with their recipes – risky, given that everyone is eating it for school dinner! And judging by the level of culinary skill, the teachers might have bitten off more than they can chew.

After the delights of ten bowls of curry, the pupils are in for a treat as they learn how to play the steel drums. Mastering the art of both musical performance and dancing, they put on a show for their friends and family in the school hall.

Changing attitudes in the 70s mean that our class are taught progressive new ideas. Embracing diversity, dissecting the words of Pink Floyd, complete with incense burning, and digging up worms on the school playing field, are all part of the unique experiences they have in this decade, as they find out just how radical and experimental school could become. And if it is all just too much, they retreat to the sanctuary, a room of palms, throws and lava lamps, to chill out. As the decade draws to a close, our pupils and teachers are joined by friends and family for the end of era disco, and this time they have new groovy new lights and a hot soundtrack to enjoy. As they embrace the spirit of Saturday Night Fever and boogie on the dancefloor, they reflect on their experiences of the 1970s, a decade of more freedom than they’ve ever experienced before.

About Back in Time for School

Fifteen pupils and their teachers embark on an extraordinary time-travelling adventure as they fast-forward through more than 100 years of school life.

This show is broadcast on BBC Two, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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