Portsmouth Royal Dockyard School At 1952

Raised Standards of Work

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The principles laid down by the founders have never varied in spite of changes in organization. Many thousands of apprentices have passed through the schools and have raised the technical level of the technical work in the dockyards. Great numbers responded to the opportunities offered and have become officers and draughtsmen in the dockyards, or civilians in technical trades where their dockyard training has stood them in good stead.

The dockyards have produced many men of outstanding capability; men who have passed on through the Royal Naval College at Manadon and Greenwich and who have become distinguished as naval constructors, naval architects, engineer officers and electrical engineers. Apprentices have found their way into every kind of post open to men with their qualifications. Some have occupied Chairs in the Universities or have become principals of technical colleges; others have become instructor officers or schoolmasters in the Royal Navy or members of the staffs of the dockyard schools. A case in point is Mr. W. G. Burrell, Head master of the Portsmouth school since 1947, and who was once an apprentice. He was a Whitworth Exhibitioner in 1911.

As with such schools attached to other dockyards, the Portsmouth school is divided into upper and lower sections. The full course in the upper school is four years, although each yearly course is complete in itself. The schools at the moment are in the middle of one of the periodic re-organizations which keep them well up in the forefront for technical education. Since 1854 apprentices have been entered into the Royal Dockyards by Civil Service examination based on a definite syllabus. This entry system has been modified in recent years to encourage the secondary modern schoolboy, by the introduction of entry by aptitude tests and interview, in addition to the entry by written examinations. There are also three entries per year instead of one.

The boys who enter by written examination are placed in the upper school and do 16 hours a week (two full days of six hours and two evenings of two hours each week at the school, and the boys entered by the aptitude test are placed in the lower school and do, whenever possible, ten hours each week (one full day of six hours and two evenings of two hours each, a week. A boy who works well can be transferred from the lower to the upper school. Another innovation, which will be introduce generally into the system as soon a circumstances permit, is that each boy will stay for at least three years in the school, upper or lower. This has been partly applied already.

The Head Master is assisted by a highly competent full-time staff. There is also a part-time evening staff, mainly for lower school instruction recruited from men in the technical departments of the Dockyard. The lecturers for technical subjects for the third and fourth year apprentices are specialist professional officers.

Source: Hampshire Telegraph and Post, Friday, June 6, 1952