11 old-school things you no longer find in schoolbags

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It’s back to school time... which also means new school uniform, a shiny new pencil case and all the essentials to put in it.

But for modern parents, pens and pencils are just the start of it – there are also smartphones, tablets and all sorts of tech and gadgets to consider.

And these things cost a fair deal more than a multi-pack of erasers and rulers.

In fact, according to a survey by price comparison site uSwitch.com, the amount of technology pupils are expected to lug around in their school bags adds up to an average worth of £270 per child – more than double the estimated figure for last year.

The survey also revealed that more than a fifth of pupils will be armed with more than £400-worth of gadgets, as lots of school-age youngsters these days have their own iPods and laptops too.

It’s eye-watering stuff for families on a budget (which is most of us, right?) and a reminder of how times have changed.

Yep, those days of multi-coloured pens being the most exciting thing in your back-to-school kit are long gone.

Here are some of our other nostalgic schoolbag favourites that aren’t getting a look-in today...

1) Marbles

When you’ve got Minecraft and Candy Crush on your mobile, who needs an actual bag of shiny coloured balls to have fun, eh?

2) 10p for the pay phone

In an emergency, you had to have some change to call your mum, didn’t you? Or you had to reverse the charges if you were in real dire straits. Well, not any more, with that £100-plus smartphone in your bag.

3) A copy of Smash Hits magazine

Smash Hits, along with other superb tween/teen titles like Sugar and Mizz, were true school bag treasures for many youngsters of the Eighties, Nineties and early-Noughties.

These mags have sadly folded, but with an endless stream of goss/vlogs/Buzzfeed quizzes now available online, the appeal and magic of the humble magazine just isn’t the same any more.

4) Floppy discs

The essential Nineties bit of kit for storing coursework and transporting it to school to print out – what did we ever do without them? Thanks to email, file transfer sites like WeTransfer and Dropbox and USB sticks... RIP floppies!

5) Pots of ink or fountain pen cartridges

God forbid one of these burst in your bag... Remember the transition from pencil to fountain pens at primary school, once you’d learned joined-up writing? Yep, not needed now, everything’s typed on tablets or just scrawled in Biro.

6) French dictionary

Those little ones, well-thumbed with ink splots obscuring some entries... Who needs to read an actual book when it’s all on the internet?

7) Text books

And speaking of actual books – text books are pretty much a thing of the past in some schools, which have replaced them with online versions.

8) Corned beef sandwiches

Enough said...

9) Sony Walkman

This one is very obvious, but with it comes a complete lack of mix tapes – and the joy of flipping them over in your walkman to change sides, unless you had a very posh one that did it automatically.

10) Trading cards

We’re talking Panini football stickers and Garbage Pail Kids and PG Tips cards (I can’t have been the only one to have swapped those) – do kids really do that any more?

11) Tamagotchi

The virtual Japanese pets were a huge thing, but you can get apps that do exactly the same thing now, so why buy a separate one?

Donkey Kong

And a host of other video games that came on devices other than smartphones and have long since lost out to the aforementioned, all-pervasive Minecraft.


The flat cardboard discs you would stack and then flip with a ‘slammer’ ate up an awful lot of pocket money. Where are they now?


For those crucial moments when you couldn’t use a fountain pen eraser.


Everyone had one and you were hailed a hero if you could pull off the hardest tricks. Under threat from new tech in the same way as conkers, though, we think.

Slap bracelets

Long strips of metallic stuff that were taut until impact with the wrist, which they’d then wrap around. We weren’t entirely sure what the point of them was, but they were very colourful.