The school began as a day school within the Technical College established in Ultimo in 1909. Initially there were around 96 boys and 11 girls. Turner, responsible for the Technical College and technical education in New South Wales generally, applied for the day school to become a High School.
Sydney Technical High School was fully established in 1911, and a prospectus was printed outlining the aims and curriculum of the school, they included practical instruction in laboratories and workshops for boys and domestic science and dressmaking for girls. Entrance to the school required Class 1V Public School Standard, and the paying in advance of a guinea a term. Students even then came from all over Sydney and from the country. The day started at 9.30 am and concluded at 4pm.
The first Headmaster was J A Williams, BA and he led the school for its first 15 years. He was a man of vision and an educator of some note, writing in the treatise he was required to submit for promotion ‘Every individual has the right to realise himself: that is to fully develop the power and capacities, physical, mental moral and spiritual: with which nature endowed him’.
By the end of 1913 enrolment to the school required a very good pass in the Qualifying Certificate at age 14, and generally students remained at the school for three years. By the end of 1914 there were no female students at the school, and the number of boys had grown to around 400. Sport was a major passion for students at the school, and has remained so for over a century: then, like now, they played a range of team sports on Wednesday afternoons.
The first Sydney Technical High Journal was published in May 1916, and the iconic journal about our school life has been published most years since, and many examples of past journals are in the school archive.
Sharing premises with the Technical College continued until 1925 when the Education department found new premises for Tech students at Albion Street, Paddington. The premises were only marginally better than those at Ultimo, with the school subject to weekend vandalism, and on one occasion, the lead ridge capping was stolen from the school roof during the weekend. This is where the idea of ‘tech spirit’ further developed: school was not to be defined by bricks and mortar, but by the quality of the interactions and relationships of students and their peers and teachers. The first school dance was held the same year, and cemented another tradition that continues to be very popular with our students.
Rivalry with Sydney Boys High School began from the instant the school was established, and continued when Sydney Boys was given land supposedly set aside for Sydney Tech at Moore Park in 1928. As well, the first Headmaster at Albion Street jumped ship, taking a transfer to Sydney Boys High School.
Then, as now, there were many extra curricular activities like cadets; chess, drama performances, a model club and a science club for each year, along with State debating competitions. The school timetable was organised to include a ‘hobby’ period.
In 1956 Sydney Technical High School finally opened its gates on our current premises at Bexley after more than forty years of continuously requesting a purpose built building for the only selective Technical High School in the State from the government. ‘We are sorry to leave the old building with its many fine traditions, but we know that the generations of Tech High boys will ensure that those traditions never waver’, wrote a senior student Michael Cimino, of the move.
Our gifted students continue the fine tradition of academic excellence, sportsmanship and citizenship at the school and beyond, that was established at Ultimo in 1911, and through them, ‘Tech Spirit’ lives on.