David Porter – former Member of Parliament, English and drama teacher and head of performing arts in secondary education, political organiser, public speaker, performer, writier online and off, editor, trouble shooter and examiner/assessor.
“I started at Lowestoft Grammar School from Roman Hill Juniors in September 1959, three weeks later than my peers, because we had the first family holiday ever my father had been able to afford in France and Italy. It set me back months in terms of the school work. It was frowned on then; today it would be very unsatisfactory. I was put in class 1D and we had our tutor room/main teaching area in the Isolation Block, where the drama areas are now. Then, the Lowestoft-Yarmouth train line ran just outside the window, providing light relief every so often.
“My first shock was to find that boys were called by their surnames, girls by their first names. My second was being thrown over a hedge between Isolation and the main school. My third was that you could be put in Detention on a Saturday morning (I never was!).
“Only classes A-C were allowed to learn Latin, which only bothered me when it came to applying for university to read English. You had to have Latin in English Universities. I applied to Welsh ones but I got into the performing arts rather than pure English. Pretty average I was in most things, with the extremes of good at English, poor at Maths. I quite liked new subjects to me like French, woodwork (girls did home economics), history and art. Sport, I loathed and dreaded. Being made to run round the field twice because I was always last was cruel and unnecessary. There was no curriculum drama but I was involved in the drama society and in my final year took lead in Ibsen’s Pillars of the Community. Debating political and current issues was up my street and I was a regular at the school debating society.
“A common punishment was to be made to stand on the line facing the clock and the door to the Headmaster’s study, in the old hall. He would periodically appear and ‘deal’ with ‘the usual suspects’ lined up. The habit gradually died out and I always felt when the school main entrance was into the old hall rather odd to be accessing through the Head’s study. Uniform was strictly enforced in school and out. In my early days youngsters would be searched out and punished if a member of the public reported seeing one or more not wearing their school caps on the bus! Concessions in the 6th form were that we were allowed to wear a black blazer rather than the distinctive maroon one and dispense with the cap!
“Teachers who stick in my mind fondly were Norah Gooddy my form and English teacher who taught me to love words; Des Hallas, geography; Olive Craik who let me do German with 4th formers when I was in the 6th Form (I thought it might get me a girlfriend!). I recall larger-than-life eccentric characters like Fred Dowson, the demon chalk thrower and ‘KZ’ the woodwork teacher who bandaged my thumb when I sawed into it one lesson to save me going to the hospital. I didn’t do that well at my O levels, which came just a few weeks after my father’s death. Nor in my A levels, as I’d got bitten by the drama bug. A third year in the Sixth helped a bit, by when Ken Hayes had arrived as Head of English and he inspired me in the broader arts.
“I am proud to have been at the school and to have learned the hard lessons it taught, typical of those times. Much of what I have described that seems pointless, pedantic and hurtful was just how it was then. Sometimes, discipline is actually a good thing, even though young people have to push against it in different ways. And so they should. I am grateful to my broad, deep and wide education that prepared me to go on to drama college, to set up a children’s theatre company, to teach at the then new Benjamin Britten High, to go into politics, to become MP for my home area of Waveney, to return to teaching at Kirkley High and to do the A level/GCSE examining work and writing that I do now. I don’t think anybody who knew me as a boy then, either teacher or fellow student, would have dreamed I would become an MP and establish careers in a variety of different fields.
“I think the lesson is that if you have a dream, work hard, do your homework, listen and learn and go for it when you feel the moment is right.”
Ormiston Denes Academy students and staff visited the offices of Accenture in London recently and were given “a real insight” into what it would be like working at a leading management consulting firm during a special visit. With 31 Year 10 students from the Lowestoft high school greeted by employees from the global management consulting […]
Festive fever has spread across Lowestoft as residents got into the Christmas spirit at the town’s switch-on on Saturday afternoon. Not even the weather or a temporary tree light failure could put a damper on the festivities which culminated in the big Christmas lights switch-on. The lights in the town centre were switched on by […]
A clifftop ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the ending of the First World War attracted a fine turnout as a “very moving” community event was held. An estimated crowd of more than 500 people turned out on Pakefield Cliffs on Sunday, November 11. Those present saw the beacon lit as the bells tolled to […]
Interactive workshops have helped to inspire the “next generation of engineers and scientists.” A “hands-on science roadshow” has rolled into Lowestoft as a series of wind power and engineering workshops take centre stage. Using coding to make traffic lights turn green, assembling an arch bridge, looking at how energy is generated and hearing about what […]
A popular exhibition was hailed as a “roaring success” as record numbers descended on Lowestoft. The fifth annual Lowestoft model engineering and model making exhibition was held at Ormiston Denes Academy over the weekend, with a diverse range of exhibits inspiring people of all ages. The exhibition, organised by the Halesworth & District Model Engineering […]
An academy trust which educates thousands of children across the region has secured a £2m funding boost to develop social action projects. Ormiston Academies Trust (OAT) will receive the money through the #iwill Fund to ensure pupils engage in meaningful youth social action and develop social, emotional and life skills. The trust has numerous academies […]
An education charity which supports school governors is launching a new campaign in Suffolk to encourage more people to take up the role. The Governor Stories campaign is being launched at Quay Place in Ipswich on October 9 by charity Governors for Schools, with the aim of inspiring people to consider joining their local school’s […]
It was another day of celebration for young people who found out the results of the toughest exams of their school careers so far. Students across Lowestoft and Southwold were greeted with good news as schools continued their upward progress despite fears that exam grade changes would prove a setback. At Ormiston Denes Academy it […]
Ormiston Denes Academy was celebrating this week after being honoured with a national Quality in Careers award, recognising the outstanding careers advice it provides to its students. Credited by Prospects, the academy has achieved the highest, Gold-level accreditation, which is part of the Quality in Careers Standard award programme. The standard is awarded to schools […]
In May students in Year 10 visited the International Aviation Academy in Norwich. They climbed aboard a full-size Boeing 737-300 operational aeroplane and were later challenged to identify different parts of an aeroplane’s fuselage. They learnt that they can start training at 16 and progress to employment or the BSc (Hons) Professional Aviation Engineering Practice […]
Ormiston Denes Academy has hit the spotlight, with some of its students being given the unique chance of starring in a new film by renowned movie-makers Danny Boyle and Richard Curtis. The academy was selected to be one of the settings for the film, which is based around the Beatles. Fifty students at the academy […]
Ormiston Denes Academy has been praised for taking effective action after being told it requires improvement by Ofsted. The academy received a monitoring visit on June 20 after a full inspection in April last year when it was given the rating in all four key areas, including outcomes for pupils and quality of teaching. However […]