An Introduction to the School

Much of the information for the period 1888 until 1954 is drawn from the excellent book written by Arthur Hitchins MA AKC and who taught at the school for many years. Perhaps the best way to describe the school's development was by a rather extraordinary process of osmosis.

The introduction to Arthur's book records that "The Portsmouth council schoolboy has determined the real character of the school. Of humble beginnings for the most part, somewhat independent in outlook and often diffident, he has a useful capacity for rising to an occasion. With the opportunities afforded to him by social and educational progress he has shown that no distinction is beyond his reach". That was written in 1954 - and has certainly remained the case ever since then.

For much of its life the school did not enjoy good material conditions. For over 40 years it had no playing fields and often had to utilise facilities. Yet, perversely, those experiences were highly valuable. A talent for improvisation had to be developed and demanded strenuous efforts of body and mind to compensate for the conditions that pertained; a school motto of Validus Corpore Animoque could never have been more apposite. None of that can have done any harm to the development and outlook for boys and staff alike.

During its lifetime the school had 4 different names; it had 4 different permanent premises as well as evacuation to Brockenhurst during the Second World War and a short spell in a local primary school upon return from evacuation. But none of that should be confused with the "same broom" that has had 4 different heads and 4 different handles!!! During its 87 year history the school had just 6 permanent headmasters all hugely committed to the well being of the school as can be seen from other parts of this website; that, perhaps, goes some way to explain why the changes of names and premises were incidental - the character, staff and outlook of the pupils remained unchanged.

What is also very clear is that the school provided an excellent start in life and opportunity to improve the lot of those who attended. It is easy to forget in this day and age that education was a very different kettle of fish 100 years ago compared with today's system. The opportunities afforded by the school were more than academic. Pastoral care, team spirit, a willingness to accept a challenge, broadening of the mind, opportunities to develop a wide range of interests - especially in the music, drama and sport - and encouragement and to do the best to one's capability were all equally important.

Understanding of what the school provided is well demonstrated by the continuing comradeship that exists between so many boys and staff and the continued running of the Old Secundrians dinners more than 30 years after the closure of the school. The hope is that the following pages will be of interest. They provide not only the history of the school but also a range of documents and images dating back over 100 years.

 

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 SOUTHERN GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR BOYS PORTSMOUTH 1888-1975

This page last modified on Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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