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Holyhead High School ( ) was the first comprehensive school in England and Wales, opening in 1949 as Holyhead County School.


The school was formed in 1949 with the amalgamation of Holyhead Grammar and St Cybi Secondary school. Ysgol Syr Thomas Jones, Amlwchmarker claims the title of the first purpose built comprehensive. Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni is claimed by some to be Britain's first comprehensive.

There was a number of reasons for the school to be the first "comp". The headmaster Mr Hughes was retiring and he was to be replaced by an enthusiast for Comprehensive education, Trefor Lovett. The new head became known as the "the first apostle of thecomprehensive movement". The transition was also assisted by the close proximity of St Cybi Secondary school and Holyhead Grammar; the schools that would be replaced. Obviously the backing of Anglesey Education Committee was essential.

The changes that Mr Lovett brought about were not unexpected as he has previous taught locally at Vaynormarker and Penderyn schools. The new school was certain that a child's future should not be determined at age eleven with the eleven plus exam. Previously children in Britain had all sat an exam at the end of their Junior school education and this decided whether you would attend the Grammar School or a Secondary Modern School. Mr Lovett was convinced that this was unfair and that there should be a firm Catchment area so that all the students irrespective of their background or abilities would attend the one school.

After two years, the new head reported,

The school today

In 2006 there were approximately 850 pupils in the school which included about 100 in the sixth form. The school had falling rolls in the years before and is much reduced since there were questions in the early 1960s in the House of Commonsmarker to then Education Minister Chris Chataway enquiring how the school was to cope with a roll of 1400 pupils. Today there are a lot of spare places.

Twelve per cent of the students are able to speak Welsh fluently and four per cent have Welsh as their first language. The catchment area of the school is mainly the town of Holyhead and the area around the school has been highlighted as an area for development with nearly 30% of households having no wage earner. The inspection report highlights a number of areas where the school is below the Welsh National average.

Two years ago the school moved its sixth form out of the old red brick Cybi building and put that in the control of the local authority. Since then the building has become dilapidated and the education authority announced in 2008 they intend to demolish the building.

The falling rolls in the school are blamed partially on the reduced number of pupils coming from the local primary schools but also on "The Train Drain". Every school morning forty children arrive from outside the area to attend the school, but over 270 leave for nearby Bangormarker on the mainland.

Mr Martin Wise is the new head teacher in Holyhead High School now


of the comprehensive

of predecessor schools


  1. Holyhead County School,, accessed 12 August 2008
  2. 2006 Inspection of the school by Estyn, accessed 12 August 2008
  3. Hansard, 22 November 1962
  4. 'Train drain' of pupils from Holyhead to Gwynedd, 19 July 2008, Owen R Hughes, Daily Post, accessed 12 August 2008
  5. Albert Owen biography, Guardian, accessed 12 August 2008
  6. QPR honours Holyhead hero, BBC, 4 July 2003, accessed 12 August 2008
  7. ‘CLEDWYN OF PENRHOS’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 22 Aug 2008
  8. ‘WILLIAMS, David’, Who Was Who, A & C Black, 1920–2007; online edn, Oxford University Press, Dec 2007 accessed 22 Aug 2008

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