A sound thrashing – but only from headmasters

Wellington Place School class 1968
Wellington Place School class 1968
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The latest publication in the ever-popular Portsmouth Papers takes a look at how schools and education have developed between 1750 and 1975.

Few people are better qualified to research and write it than Dr Peter Galliver, a history teacher at the city’s oldest school, the Portsmouth Grammar School.

Peter’s twin passions of education and Dockyard history come together as he explores the impact of the royal dockyard on the development of educational provision.

But the story begins with the garrison physician, Dr William Smith, whose bequest enabled the building and running of the grammar school from the middle of the 18th century. The original school was built in Penny Street but was replaced by the Victorian school from 1879.

Meanwhile, in the newly-established Board Schools, the curriculum centred on basic literacy and numeracy and Bible study, parts of which were to be memorised.

Corporal punishment was strictly regulated, with only head teachers allowed to administer thrashings. As far as other teachers were concerned, ‘no boxing of ears or any rough usage will be excused under and circumstances’.

Peter highlights the city’s proud record in being one of the few local authorities to take seriously its responsibilities to children with special needs.

The opening of Cliffdale Primary School in 1955 and Cliffdale Secondary Modern School the following year highlighted this commitment.

Under pioneering headteacher, M.A. Jerrold, pupils were encouraged to make the most of their abilities and close links were established between the world of school and work.

Cliffdale’s Industrial Training Unit was the first of its kind in the country, and was used widely as a model.

Portsmouth’s Schools, 1750-1975 is available from the City Museum, the Central Library or Blackwell’s bookshop, Cambridge Road for £4.