'Heartbreak' as governors make decision to close St John's College in Southsea after 114 years

THE head of a 114-year-old private college in Southsea has spoken of her ‘heartbreak’ as governors decided to close the school for good.

Monday, 16th May 2022, 5:53 pm

St John’s College, in Grove Road, will not re-open in September this year due to declining numbers of pupils.

The school, which was founded in 1908 and caters for boys and girls between the ages of four and 18, had 630 pupils in 2010 but today has just 256.

Head of college, Mary Maguire, said: ‘It is with great sadness that we have to announce the closure of St John’s.

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Mary Maguire, Head of St John's College

‘We are all completely devastated but our governors simply had no choice. We do not have enough pupils to make the school viable.”

Mrs Maguire, who has been a teacher at the school for 10 years and head of college since 2019, said pupils facing public exams would be able to take them as planned.

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She said: ;We have pupils sitting both GCSEs and A-levels and they will go ahead here so there will be no disruption.’

Zenna Hopson, chair of governors St John's College in Southsea

Mrs Maguire said she was also in talks with other local independent schools to try to help families find alternative places for pupils and opportunities for staff ready for the start of the next academic year in September.

She said: ‘It is heartbreaking. We all love this school, and this is the very last thing we would have wanted to happen.’

Chair of governors, Zenna Hopson, said: ‘If not for the pandemic and if not for years of chronic under-investment from our landlords we would not be in this situation.’

The school’s site and buildings are owned by the De La Salle Brothers although St John’s separated from them in 2015.

Dr Hopson added: ‘We have genuinely done everything we could to try to keep St John’s going but we have reached a point where it is no longer practical.

‘We did hope that the school would be bought, and investment provided for the site to be re-developed and then allowed to continue but this deal fell through.

‘We are desperately sorry, and we are doing all we can to support our pupils, their families and our staff.’