Entrance Methods, Examinations & Fees
When the school opened in 1888 fees were set at 9d per week (for younger readers that’s less than 4p!!) or 6d if the pupil had been registered in a public elementary school on 1st November 1886. Remission was available for the poor!! There was no entrance exam initially (after all, the school opened just 9 days after the prospectus was published) although boys were all subject to the need to meet the exacting standards of Mr. Walker.
In June 1904 an entrance exam was held with the syllabus covering arithmetic: vulgar and decimal fractions, simple proportion, simple interest, mensuration of rectangles and rectangular solids, simple questions on the metric system, problems "to test the intelligence of candidates", Algebra: 4 simple rules, removal and insertion of brackets, simple equations, English composition and dictation. Not surprisingly, there were protests about the stiffness of the examination!!
In 1904 fees were doubled, age limits were set at 12-14 on 1st September and candidates from private schools were accepted.
In 1905 fees rose to £1 a term plus 2/6d (12.5p) for stationery and protests ensued that the a "class school" was being established. Remissions were available up to a maximum of 25% of the available places. After the age of 14 a maintenance allowance of £5 per annum was payable (up to a maximum of 40) and scholarships up to the same amount became available to intending pupil teachers.
By 1932 fees had risen to £9/9/- per annum. Alderman Foster warned parents at the first Speech Day at the Guildhall of the decision to increase fees (in the face of the economic crisis which caused a reduction in edeucation expenditure) but promised that no boy who deserved secondary education would suffer because of his parents' circumstances.There was, in any case, a 25% free place system.
By 1937 fees were £15/15/- per annum which was only £8 less than Portsmouth Grammar. A 100% Special Place system of payment according to income operated but even after the scheme had been revised to meet local protests a parent with two children and earning £5 5s 0d a week was, in September 1939, paying full fees. In 1942 the Committee revised its scale again, but even then, full fees were paid by a parent with two children and earning £5 5s 0d a week.
On 1 April 1945 fees were abolished.
Just after the Second World War the 11 plus examination was introduced which was taken by all children - the exam being based upon tests in English, Arithmetic and Intelligence. However, school records and parents’ wishes were also taken into account in deciding which school a boy would attend. This system remained in place until the government’s reforms in the 1970s which saw the demise of most grammar schools and the introduction of comprehensive schools.
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