Annie Ford (1920 Onwards): Education and Schooling

Annie’s first recollection of schooling was at Willet Street Nursery, she describes this as a happy and content time in her life. Annie explains “There were two teachers, two lovely ladies, they were exceedingly kind and gentle” (p5). Annie depicts this part of schooling with fond memory. Although there were only two teachers at Willet Street Nursery, their passion and desire to create a warm environment for the children paid off. This experience of nursery for Annie can be seen to appear better off for her rather than other working class children. This is because young working class children did not always receive the kind love and attention they deserve at such a young age.

Annie depicts her schooling in a positive manner whilst being a young child at nursery. Events take a turn for the worst as she attends high school. “I went to Collyhurst Tin School but that was never a success. I was never very happy there” (p5). Her memories are only that of negativity and a time of sadness for Annie whilst she attended Collyhurst Tin School. Annie recollects one of the main reasons for this was due to one particular incident “which has always remained with me” (p5)

Annie remembers her teacher “passed over” her with “Beechams’ book of tables and little rulers” (p5). This was because Annie did not attend the school’s Christmas party, leading the teacher to not include Annie. An incident as small as this, however can cause detrimental effects to a young child in a group of other children. Moving towards the perception of other working class schools, it is shown in Annie’s memoir about her schooling and education, her school was not all bad and handing out samples to further an education was not seen in other working class schools.

Although represents a hateful attitude towards her schooling at Collyhurst Tin, events start to brighten as after two years attending she “persuaded my parents to let me go to Smedley Road School. My Father was quite pleased about this as it was his school” (p6) Annie’s father attended this school it was called Smedley Board School where there was a “charge of either 1 or 2 pennies per week”. Smedley had good values and concentrated solely on furthering the education of the students. The school is described as having “good discipline. The teachers were respected, you did as you were bidden” (p6)

Education plays one of the key themes throughout this memoir. The experience of learning and schooling shapes Annie’s identity as an adult. Education is viewed as highly important in Annie’s thoughts. Parts of learning involved “The three ‘Rs’ taught” (p6) she also explains how “History was my favourite” (p6)

Although Annie recognises she is not the most intelligent and she “dreaded gaving to read out aloud” (p6). Annie’s spelling mistake “gaving” places into perspective her unconfident use of grammar and partial illiteracy. The prominent theme of education and schooling is used in the memoir as it allows Annie to question “Where has the system gone wrong?” (p6)

The concept of being unable to read is brought up in topic as she discusses “why there are so many people who cannot read today” (p6). Many working class children and adults were unable to read through not learning this sufficiently in schooling or unable to have the opportunity to a rightful education. Jonathan Rose informs “reading culture of the working classes, from the eighteenth century onwards, was widespread, sometimes indiscriminate, and occasionally lacking in an internal logic”. The ability of the working classes to read was present however some were not taught or taught poorly.


Rose, Jonathan. The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001

‘Mrs Annie Ford (Born 1920)’, unpublished memoir, 2:291, Burnett Collection of Working Class Autobiography, Special Collections Library, Brunel University. 2:291 FORD, Annie, Untitled, TS, pp.7 (c.2,000 words). Brunel University Library.

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