Teenage pupil fights to save Mayfield School building in Portsmouth from being demolished

A TEENAGER is fighting to save the school building he has attended for the last five years from being demolished.

Friday, 12th July 2019, 9:38 am
Updated Thursday, 13th February 2020, 12:58 pm

While most 16-year-olds are enjoying a break after their GCSEs, Mayfield School’s head boy Ryan Taylor has launched a campaign to preserve the school’s classic main building which has stood since 1932.

Under current plans the former grammar school would be demolished with a new purpose-built school built.

Ryan said: ‘While I do have an emotional attachment, it’s very much about the building. It’s an iconic building of high architectural quality and I passionately believe it should be kept.’

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ryan Taylor has set up a campaign to try and stop the demolition of Mayfield School. Picture: Sarah Standing (110719-894)

After hearing the proposed plan two years ago, Ryan arranged to meet headteacher David Jeapes to voice his concerns. Whilst accepting Mr Jeapes’ explanation of the need for a new school building, Ryan believes it does not have to be at the expense of the demolition of the current school.

‘I accept the need for a new school with modern facilities but I believe there is a compromise with maintaining the front facade and constructing around it,’ he said.

Ryan has gained the support of national campaign group, Save Britain’s Heritage (SBH). Representative Thomas Bender has confirmed SBH intend to formally object to the proposal before the July 27 deadline.

Portsmouth City Council cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton, sympathises with Ryan’s stance but said the new build was necessary to improve educational provision.

The iconic Mayfield School building facade which Ryan feels should be preserved. Picture: Sarah Standing (110719-921)

Suzy said: ‘It’s great this young person wants to engage in the democratic process and campaign for something he’s passionate about. However, getting funding from central government to build a new school is really difficult and so when the opportunity comes along you have to grab it. This will be a brand new purpose-built school with state-of-the-art facilities to cater for both STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) subjects as well as the arts.’

Speaking at the unveiling of the plans, Mr Jeapes said: ‘The community deserves a purpose-built, state-of-the-art, educational environment.’

Ryan has been delivering letters to local residents urging them to object to the demolition.

Resident Anna McCarthy said: ‘There’s obviously a lot of history at the school and efforts should be made to preserve it.’

Ryan Taylor hands over a letter to resident, Anna McCarthy
An artist's impression of how the new Mayfield School could look. Picture: Novian Architects