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The school was opened on Monday 12 th November 1888 under the title of the Portsmouth Higher Grade School. It was the first municipal secondary school in the city and school fees were set at 9d per week (6d if the pupil had been registered in any public elementary school as at 1 st November 1886.

The school commenced with just 2 classes and a total of 50 boys. The prospectus had been issued just 9 days before opening and offered 17 subjects (reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, geography, singing, algebra, Euclid, practical plane and solitary geometry, drawing, mathematics, heat, physiology, theoretical and applied mechanics and book-keeping.

The classes were taught by Ernest Walker (Headmaster) and T ("Ginger" {due to his ginger beard}) Outlaw; what joy for the boys to have a member of staff with that name and hirsute attribute!!

A court judgement at the turn of the century found that Higher Grade Schools were illegal; this was based upon the premise that rates could not be used to educate children in such establishments!! It should be borne in mind that there had been very strong resistance in some quarters regarding the establishment of the schools in the first place so action of this type was not entirely surprising. As a result and as an interim measure "Higher Elementary Schools" were set up but the eventual outcome was that the school was re-titled the Portsmouth Council Secondary School with effect from 1 st August 1904.

By the early 1920s the municipal Secondary Schools had justified their establishment and had achieved a good reputation. But Portsmouth still had only one such school for boys (and one for girls). As a result of the increase in population and the greatly expanded area of Portsmouth coupled with the Fisher Education Act 1918, which made further significant improvements to secondary education, further provision for secondary education in the city became essential. In 1920 the Chairman of the Education Committee asked Dr Parks (Headmaster of the PCSS) to inspect premises in Kingston with a view to establishing a new Secondary School. As a result, the Northern Secondary School was formed in January 1921. As a result on 22 nd September 1921 the old school became known as the Southern Secondary School for Boys. It did, however, retain its badge with the designation Portsmouth Secondary School for more than another 25 years.

The Butler Education Act of 1944 embodied the recommendations of the Spens Report in 1938 and raised the school leaving age to 15. Inter alia, it inaugurated the tripartite division of secondary education into grammar, technical and modern. Thus, in February 1946 the Southern Secondary School for Boys became the Southern Grammar School for Boys. Unlike the previous name change, the school quickly altered its badge – designed by Mr W. Jeffries the art master. Fittingly, the badge incorporated a phoenix –the school building having been destroyed by fire through enemy action during the Second World War – and the school motto Validus, Corpore, Animoque [strong in body and in mind].

The school remained under that title until 1975 when government education reforms saw the demise of many grammar schools including the Southern Grammar. In that year the premises were handed over to Great Salterns Comprehensive School - a very different type of establishment. When that school closed the premises became home to the Portsmouth College who remain the incumbents to this day.

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