Warstones School, Wolverhampton

3. An interest in the past
The volcano near my school

My junior school was Warstones School, in Penn, Wolverhampton ...

It was the school where boys in short grey trousers filled their pockets with grasshoppers, which we caught in the long grass that grew on the school air-raid shelters (relics from World War II). These jumping, flying insects were taken into school and let loose in our classroom. My teacher was not amused.

It was the school where custard and salad cream were accidentally mixed up one lunchtime, leading to a riot and 'six of the best' from the headteacher for the ringleaders (not me!).

And it was the school where we played a game I knew simply as 'BB'. This was the traditional playground game of British Bulldog – a rough-and-tumble game which many schools eventually banned.

But, more than this, Warstones School was where I became interested in facts. I enjoyed discovering facts about things that interested me, especially ones about history.

The Wrekin, Shropshire

I remember the day I told my classteacher, Miss Forrest, that the Wrekin (say: ree-kin), a cone-shaped hill in Shropshire, a few miles from school, had been made millions of years ago by volcanic activity.

I'd walked to the top of the Wrekin with mum and dad – all 407 metres (1,334 feet) – and had squeezed myself through a cleft in the rock known as the Needle's Eye.

Miss Forrest said England didn't have volcanoes. I was nine-years-old, and I was certain I knew something my teacher didn't. It was only when I showed her the book where I'd found the information that she finally believed me. It was a fact book – a non-fiction book.

In my school report for my second year, when I was aged nine (Year 4 today), Miss Forrest gave me a good mark for literacy. She wrote this in my report: 'John likes to write compositions in which he can put information – usually historical – which he has learned from reading.'

John aged about 10 The Silver Sword

I wasn't so good at numeracy, and Miss Forrest wrote this in my report: 'Tries but tends to make careless mistakes.'

I'm still not very good with numbers.

I've kept a book from my junior school days. It's The Silver Sword, by Ian Serraillier, which I read when I was aged 10, in class Lower 3A (this would be Year 5 today).

It's a story set during World War II about a family in Poland and a group of children searching for their parents. It was the book I could not put down.*

I'd discovered how much I liked history, and if you want to know where that took me to, click over to page 4.

* If you want to know more about The Silver Sword, click here: The Silver Sword children's summary
If you are a teacher looking for resources you'll find plenty at the TES site here: The Silver Sword teachers' resources