Lost at School: A Glimpse into the Lives of Students in 1979

George Plemper’s Candid Photographs Resurface After 30 Years, Offering a Unique Perspective on Education

In 1979, George Plemper embarked on a teaching career at Riverside School in Thamesmead, London. Little did he know that his decision to document his students and their surroundings would create a time capsule of immense historical and cultural significance. Plemper’s photographs, initially processed in his bathroom, were titled “Lost at School,” reflecting his own disillusionment with the education system. However, these images took on a life of their own, capturing the attention of viewers who saw them as a raw portrayal of the students themselves. After being exhibited as a Half Moon touring show, the photographs disappeared from public view for three decades, only to resurface when Plemper uploaded them to Flickr.

1: A Glimpse into the Lives of Students

Plemper’s photographs offer a candid and unfiltered glimpse into the lives of students at Riverside School in 1979. From the worn-out uniforms to the tired expressions, each image tells a story of its own. Plemper’s decision to document his students was driven by a desire to shed light on the challenges they faced and the realities of their daily lives.

2: The Struggles of the Education System

Through his photographs, Plemper also shines a light on the struggles of the education system during that era. Dilapidated classrooms, overcrowded spaces, and limited resources were just a few of the obstacles faced by both students and teachers. Plemper’s images serve as a reminder of the systemic issues that have plagued education for decades.

3: The Impact of the “Lost at School” Exhibition

When Plemper’s photographs were first exhibited as a Half Moon touring show, they garnered significant attention and sparked important conversations about the state of education. Many viewers were moved by the raw emotions captured in the images and the stark contrast between the students’ lives and the idealized image of school often portrayed in mainstream media.

4: Rediscovery on Flickr

After the exhibition, Plemper’s photographs seemingly vanished, hidden away from public view for 30 years. However, in 2009, Plemper decided to share his images with the world once again. He uploaded the entire collection to Flickr, allowing a new generation to discover and engage with these powerful snapshots of a bygone era.

5: A Timeless Message

Despite the photographs being taken over four decades ago, the themes they explore remain relevant today. The challenges faced by students and the shortcomings of the education system continue to be pressing issues. Plemper’s images serve as a reminder that the struggles depicted in “Lost at School” are not confined to a specific time or place but are part of a larger, ongoing conversation.


George Plemper’s “Lost at School” photographs offer a unique and poignant perspective on the lives of students in 1979. Through his candid and evocative images, Plemper sheds light on the struggles faced by both students and the education system itself. The rediscovery of these photographs on Flickr has allowed a new generation to appreciate their significance and contemplate the timeless message they convey. As we reflect on the past, “Lost at School” serves as a powerful reminder of the work that still needs to be done to ensure that every student receives the education they deserve.






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