Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Girls 1946-1974

The sixth form building, later renamed the "quadrangle building"

As is well known, the war produced a surge of  social optimism and legislation intended to build a better Britain.  The Butler Education Act of 1944, as well as raising the school-leaving age to 15 in that year, led to the setting up of a tripartite system of schools.  The grammar schools were intended to provide an academic education for pupils selected by the 11-plus examination; secondary modern schools were intended to provide a more practical education; and technical schools were also created in much smaller numbers.  Accordingly, in 1946,  the girls’ school became the Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Girls, with admission based on the eleven-plus examination, and the related secondary modern schools included the boys’ and girls’ schools in Francis Avenue, later to be merged with PSGSG.  The schools shared the site with Francis Avenue Junior Mixed School, which occupied a smaller building, the whole site constituting what is now Fernhurst Junior School.  A technical school, now the City of Portsmouth Boys’ School, was established at Hilsea.

In 1954, the boys’ school displaced by the bombing (which had become the Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Boys) moved to the new building on the Eastern Road, now Portsmouth College.  The Southsea Boys’ Secondary Modern School then moved to the St Ronan’s Road site from Francis Avenue.

In common with other schools, Portsmouth Southern Grammar School for Girls experienced a revolution in the examination system in 1951 with the replacement of the School Certificate at its two levels by the General Certificate of Education at ordinary level for 16 year old pupils and advanced level for 18 year olds. The distinctive feature of these examinations is that they were awarded on the basis of success in individual subjects rather than grouped subjects as before.  Subsequently, increasing awareness of the need for some sort of examination for the majority of pupils led to the introduction, in 1963, of the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE).  Although intended to serve the secondary modern schools, the CSE examinations were soon taken up by PSGSG and other grammar schools, either for pupils who did not aspire to O levels or, with much administrative inconvenience and complication, for dual entries so that many pupils acquired a mixture of O level and CSE results.

In 1947, to accommodate additional numbers, a HORSA hut block of concrete sections with metal window frames was built in the north playground.  This consisted of four classrooms about half way along the northern perimeter near the position of the present brick garden sheds.  Although intended as temporary accommodation, the four classrooms were used until 1992 when their demolition was undertaken not only for aesthetic reasons and in line with Hampshire County Council policy, but because they were suffering from what is known as “concrete fatigue”.  The shortage of space was further alleviated after the war by the use of the hall of the Methodist church on the corner of Rugby Road, now Priory Court flats.

The remains of the bombed-out boys’ school were removed in the late 1950s and a two-storey gymnasium block was built on the site and made available for use in 1963.  A large wooden hut was later attached to the west end of the block and this served as classrooms separated by a PE office until 1992.

St Andrew’s House Training Institute for Deaconesses was progressively abandoned by the church authorities after the war and it was acquired in 1951 by the Portsmouth Education Committee.  In that year, the bombed-out section of St Andrew’s House was also demolished and the laboratory block built upon the site, to be used for the first time in 1955.

Other building developments in the early 1960s included a lecture theatre (becoming the Information Resource Centre in 1994) and, to cope with increasing demand for sixth form places for girls, a sixth form building on the other side of the quadrangle from the main building, approximately on the site of the bombed-out 1934 annexe. The sixth form building, later renamed the “quadrangle building”, contained the sixth form library (now Room 41) an additional laboratory (Room 36), the sixth form common room (now Room 32) and a series of full-sized and small teaching rooms on the two floors.

At a time when the aesthetics of buildings were perhaps less well appreciated than they are now, the northern facade of the main building was disfigured in 1963 by a kitchen extension which had the effect of disrupting access to the north playground and reducing the space available in it.  This accretion was removed in 1992, when the building was restored to its original form, as befitted a building that had been listed (Grade II).

Roy Corke’s builders’ yard, which had been destroyed in the war, though partly restored to use, was purchased after the war by Portsmouth LEA and converted to a small school field.  Because of its limited usefulness in wet weather and the shortage of playing areas on the site, this was covered in tarmac in the late 1970s to provide an all-weather hard-playing area, later becoming the site of the sports hall.  In 1974, local government reorganisation (to be reversed in 1997) transferred Portsmouth and Southampton to Hampshire County Council.

In 1972, the school-leaving age was raised to 16.  The change had more impact on the secondary modern schools but teachers in all types of secondary schools became involved in the “ROSLA” exercise, which generated much in-service education and the extensive building of appropriate accommodation.