First comprehensive school, Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amwlch

Link to Welsh translation

This was the first comprehensive school in Wales and probably the first school in Britain built as a comprehensive, which became the standard format for state secondary education. Please don’t enter the school grounds without permission.

Aerial photo of Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones in 1951Previously secondary education was divided into three streams: grammar schools for children who had passed the “11 Plus” intelligence test as they finished primary school; technical schools teaching vocational subjects; and secondary modern schools for other children. By the 1930s there were concerns that it was unfair to categorise children on the basis of their attainment in primary school, and Anglesey council was one of the earliest to explore the concept of secondary schools where all children would be taught together.

After the war, county architect Norman Squire Johnson designed a showcase school for Amlwch. Such was its significance to the post-war Labour government in Westminster that David Hardman, Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry for Education, was sent to lay the foundation stone (of polished Moelfre limestone) in September 1948. The school was described then as a “multi-lateral” one.

The first pupils were admitted in 1950 but construction, by Pochin Ltd, continued until 1953. The aerial photo, courtesy of the Welsh Government, shows the site in 1951.

The school was formally opened by Florence Horsbrugh, the Conservative government’s Minister for Education, in June 1953. By then the term “comprehensive school” had been coined. A decision had also been made to name the new school after Sir Thomas Jones, a county councillor and doctor who sought better educational facilities for Amlwch before his death in 1945.

The school was designed with plenty of space and separate boys’ and girls’ gyms. It cost £250,000 to build (over £5.7m today). It even had telephone connections between classrooms and its own radio system! The original building, designed to accommodate 750 pupils, is at the lower end of the site and was listed in 2001.

Postcode: LL68 9BE    View Location Map

Website of Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones