Bid to convert school to technical academy

Mike Smith headteacher at City of Portsmouth Boys School
Mike Smith headteacher at City of Portsmouth Boys School
Jonathan Melling from the Elliott Group, inside the current Arundel Court Primary School hall

School could see complete facelift within two years

Have your say

A MULTI-MILLION pound bid to convert the city’s only state school for boys into a technical academy is being drawn up, The News can reveal.

City of Portsmouth Boys School will be proposed as the site for a University Technical Academy to give youngsters vital work skills in engineering, science and IT.

The University of Portsmouth is working on a business plan, with the backing of Portsmouth City Council and City Boys to pitch to the Department for Education as soon as possible.

Headteacher Mike Smith says the school, which would focus on science, technology, engineering, and maths GCSEs and vocational courses for 11 to 19-year-olds, could be open to girls and boys.

But he insists nothing will go ahead if the bid for capital funding to expand the current site and update facilities is not granted by the government.

Speaking on behalf of his governing body, he said: ‘We are interested in the possibility of becoming a UTA but we are waiting to see if the bid is successful before we give it full consideration.

‘We are seeking significant sums of money in the millions to refurbish and extend the school.

‘If the bid is successful, it is up to the governors to decide what is in the best interest of the school. If we do go down the UTA route it is possible we will open up to girls as well.’

He added: ‘We have many hi-tech businesses in the area looking for skilled graduates to employ.

‘The beauty of this proposal is the connection with our university which will be able to offer a pathway to employment in the engineering, science and IT sectors.’

The news comes ahead of an education scrutiny panel meeting next Thursday to discuss turning City Boys into a mixed school.

The panel’s chairman Steve Wemyss says this would solve the problem of Springfield School in Drayton being oversubscribed.

He said: ‘This year there were 31 kids in the catchment area who didn’t get into Springfield.

‘Five of them won places on appeal but the majority face travelling more than the three -mile maximum distance set by the government to get to school.

‘Our options are to build a new school which we can’t afford, to expand Springfield which we don’t have the money for, or to make City Boys, which is significantly under-subscribed, co-ed.’

But Mr Smith is adamant governors are not interested in a mixed-sex school without first becoming a UTA.

He warned: ‘We’ve just scored a “good” Ofsted. If anyone tries to do anything to us that we don’t like we can become an academy without a sponsor and nobody will be able to touch us.’

Cllr Rob Wood, education boss, says he is looking at ways to resolve the Springfield problem and fully supports the idea of City Boys becoming a UTA.

A university spokeswoman confirmed a bid was being worked on.