Calls for Portsmouth academy to reconsider its new school name

Charles Dickens Primary School in Portsmouth
Charles Dickens Primary School in Portsmouth
Forest School Leaders Dawn White and Sue Evans with their pupils outside the school

Picture: Habibur Rahman (180146-338)

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CALLS have been made for an academy to reconsider its controversial decision to change the name of Charles Dickens Primary School.

Councillor John Ferrett, Labour group leader, who attended as a youngster, has blasted the ‘ridiculous’ plan to rebrand the school Ark Dickens Primary Academy from next month.

He said academy sponsors Ark should either keep the original name or remove the association to Dickens altogether as it looks like a ‘clumsy’ marketing ploy.

As reported in The News yesterday, there’s been uproar over the change given that the Charles Dickens name is in reference to Portsmouth’s most famous citizen and the fact he was born in the area.

The school is in Turner Road, not far from his birthplace in Old Commercial Road. Descendants of Dickens say removing the name would be ‘childish’.

Cllr Ferrett said: ‘It’s a ridiculous decision.

‘It’s always been called Charles Dickens and obviously the name Charles Dickens is synonymous with that area.

‘The academy should reconsider this. You could come up with a completely new name reflecting a fresh start, but to play around with the name like this is just absurd.’

Headteacher Craig Duncan, said: ‘We are retaining the school’s proud association with Charles Dickens.

‘Many people requested that the Dickens element be retained.

‘This maintains the links to the local community and the heritage of the school, while signalling a fresh start as we join the wider ARK network.’

Ark Schools said that consultation about the name change was held with staff, parents and members of the public, and that all new Ark schools use the name in the title.

Charter Academy in Southsea,, which is also an Ark school, joined the network several years ago, which is why the Ark name isn’t reflected in it.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Ark Schools defended the decision.

‘We have found parents value the school being part of a network of good schools that shares ideas and best practice, so the name reflects this.

‘In terms of consultation, we held three meetings, one for staff, one for parents and one for members of the public.

‘We also issued a press notice and wrote to local councillors, parents and other stakeholders.’

Readers have their say on dropping the Charles

Not that I necessarily advocate so doing, but you may as well dispense with Dickens also as it has no relevance whatsoever in its own right.

There are thousands of Dickens worldwide but only one Charles Dickens, renowned Victorian writer and social critic.


I see on their website that Ark are allowing John Keats Academy, opening this new school year, to use his full name.

This is a preposterous change of name and it’s important that Ark listen.

Schools serve communities, and in this case the community is outraged and offended.

Stuart Crow