Doing PE in underwear in Britain?

I’ve read some Britons online claim they had to do PE in their underwear as a child because they forgot their PE kits. And yes some of the classes where this occurred were coed.

It’s not 100% clear to me how common this practice is/was or how old the children who have to strip are. (I hope this practice ends before children reach age 10 although I’m not sure if it does.) It’s also not clear to me if this practice still exists.

This could never happen in a million years here in America. Could some people in Britain tell me if this practice went on at their school? I honestly was stunned when I learned about this practice.

Boys in Chicago high schools were forced to swim naked until about 1960 or so.

Why were you stunned? We’re talking pre-sexual, pre-development children here, and it’s not like they’re going to be wearing lace lingerie and jock thongs. Have you seen children’s underwear? I can see some taunting because one’s UnderRoos showed Aquaman instead of Batman or somesuch, but even in most of America this wouldn’t be that big a deal. This seems like a reasonable way to prevent kids from having all of their clothes soaked with sweat for the day.

I can verify from first-hand experience that was, on occasion forced to do PE in my undies, in late-80s Britain

Was that just in elementary school, or did that also occur in older grades?

yes, happened to quite a few of my classmates in the late 70’s early 80’s. Boys and girls together.

There seemed to be a line crossed when we went to secondary school at age 11. At that point, in a nod to emerging modesty as much as anything, the PE teachers had some lovely sets of unflattering shorts and shirts for the errant child to wear. To my mind it was far more humiliating than doing it in my pants but…it did concentrate the mind somewhat and PE kit was rarely forgotten.

Beat me to it. I wasn’t around back then, but naked high school swimming was certainly a thing in some parts of the US. This blog post says it stopped some time in the 70s. The practice was no co-ed, though.

Pretty much the same for my primary school, albeit from the early to late seventies. If you forgot your kit, it was your underwear, at least for the youngest kids. I’m pretty sure that the girls had standard navy knickers as part of the school uniform (girls had to wear skirts), but us boys had the full range of horrific purple-with-yellow-piping 1970s y-fronts at our disposal.

PE was mixed, up until about primary 5 or 6 I think. The girls would be playing hockey and netball by then, the boys football and rugby, and if you didn’t have your own kit, the school had plenty for people to wear.

An abiding memory for me is of my mate…6 feet tall at age 12, skinny as a rake wearing a pair of MASSIVE flappy shorts held up with his blue and yellow tie as a belt. Very smart.

60s UK: in the youngest classes it was the norm to strip down to underwear (knickers and vests)for PE. At some point, before the age of 10, we started bringing and wearing shorts. For a while some of us were in underwear and some in shorts. I didn’t get the memo that the time of shorts was over, forgot mine once and realised I was the only girl in knickers. Mortifying, but no one said anything. Never forgot my shorts again.

My school was in a fairly poor area and it wasn’t that long since we had had clothes rationing. I think that was why shorts were not required for younger kids.

Did my fellow Brits get to play the excellent game called Shipwreck at primary school, using the wall bars, ropes and benches? Basically a giant game of tig in three dimensions, heh.

Seeing as I’m reminiscing, part of PE in Scottish schools used to be (actually probably still is) country dancing, even in secondary school. I’ve rarely needed the skills learned there, but it’s useful occasionally to know the basics of a Strip-the-Willow, or a Canadian Barn Dance…

We had country dancing (in Hampshire) at primary school and I also went to private ballroom dancing lessons. I think your Shipwreck is the same as our Pirates. Sadly I lost my enthusiasm for this game after cracking heads with someone and seeing stars.

Lucky bugger. All we got were extremely short shorts. You know jumping jacks, short shorts, and male genitalia don’t mix well.

I was wondering whether Shipwreck/Pirates has made it to the modern age, to be honest. I remember leaping from the bars, hoping to catch hold of one of the ropes, missing by a fair distance and ending up on the deck, winded.

I’m not one to rail against health and safety but eh, that game maybe isn’t played so much in schools any more. :smiley:

well back in my day…!!!
I had short shorts as well and just as Alan Partridge famously said, they had an underpant lining but it perished. Many a ballsack was flashed in the late 70’s and early 80’s

Playing tig in three dimensions requires careful planning because you can never climb down.

My recollection is also that it was the norm, not just when forgetting PE kit. This was mid 60s.

Does this by any chance explain your username?

Depends on the size of the space and the ratio off tiggers to tiggees I suspect. Two tiggers vs. the rest of the class was how my school used to do it, with the last two surviving tiggees taking over the tigger roles for the next game.

(I fear I am being whooshed here)

Christ’s chin, what makes you suspect that?