THE school bell signalled the start of classes with a difference as pupils took lessons from the days of their ancestors.
New Seaham Primary is marking its 100th birthday with a three-day celebration of its place in the town’s history.
The celebrations were kicked off with lessons that would have filled the school day a century ago.
The Edwardian-themed day saw staff and children wearing traditional clothes and focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic.
Answers were written out in chalk and traditional games from Beamish Museum were played in the playground.
Pupils dined on a menu of mutton stew and leek dumplings, vegetables or cheese and potato pie with spotted Dick and custard or bread and butter pudding for dessert.
They were also given a taste of the strict discipline of the time, with girls and boys segregated as they entered the school.
They were also ordered to stand up when headteacher Bernadette Dolan entered the room and had their nails checked for dirt. Those who misbehaved were ordered to wear a dunce’s hat.
A mock classroom was set up to resemble one from 100 years ago.
Youngsters also buried a time capsule, topped with a granite stone, commemorating the anniversary.
The container was packed with items including a school uniform, a school timetable, a photograph of the pupils and the school, a copy of the Bible presented to the children by Stanley Street Church, an Olympic medal made by a class and memorabilia from this year’s London Games.
Former pupils were also welcomed back for afternoon tea and a talk with youngsters about memories of their days in the school. A clippie mat demonstration was also held.
The week was rounded off with a special assembly, where a plaque – first unveiled when the school was opened by a Mr Richardson on September 4, 1912, and since restored – was put on show alongside a new display commemorating the birthday.
A street party was then held for the whole school.
An exhibition of photographs of former classes has also gone on show.
Mrs Dolan said: “It’s very exciting because this is 100 years of providing education for the community of Seaham and it’s a wonderful time to celebrate.
“I’m very privileged to be in a long line of esteemed headteachers.”
She thanked the centenary committee, school clerk Ann Elliott, classroom assistants Sue Boardman and Carole Roberts and Raymond Thompson, a grandfather of children at the school, for their year-long efforts to put on the events.
The school is now moving towards the next phase in its history as it has applied to become an academy.