25 July, 2019
Ormiston Venture Academy welcomed the Gorleston-on-Sea Heritage Group and former students of the Great Yarmouth Technical High School, to the unveiling of a new plaque commemorating the 1954 opening of the first Technical High in the country. Mayor Michael Jeal unveiled the plaque in the presence of former students and teachers from the school, the Ormiston Venture Academy Chair of Governors Lesley King, Principal Simon Gilbert-Barnham and Venture’s current students.
The 1944 Education Act, known widely as the Butler Act, enabled and encouraged local education authorities to organise secondary education on a tripartite system of grammar, technical high and secondary modern schools. This was significant in giving equality of recognition to technical education and the established strand of the more classical grammar school education; a very significant step for Britain’s post-war regeneration.
Great Yarmouth County Borough’s education department was at the forefront of this development, and indeed many education authorities never established technical high schools.
A senior technical high was established in the former Edward Worlledge Senior School in September 1945 and the age of admission was lowered from 13 to 11 in 1946 to align it with the eleven-plus examination. In 1947 the school became the first co-ed school in the borough and appointed a female member of staff as Senior Mistress. Planning for a new purposed-built Technical High School commenced in 1950, but a national shortage of steel delayed progress during 1952–53. On 2 December 1954, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh officially opened the new school – the first purpose built technical high school in England.
The new school admitted boys and girls and promoted a very vocational skills-orientated syllabus including carpentry, metal working, building skills and business and commercial studies.
Principal Simon Gilbert-Barnham said:
“It is with great pride that we look back on this historic moment for the area and all those who had a part in it. It truly exemplifies the way our student and community respect tradition while embracing innovation of the future.”