Plans could see Portsmouth lose its only all boys school

Mike Smith, principal of City of Portsmouth Boys School.
Mike Smith, principal of City of Portsmouth Boys School.

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PORTSMOUTH could lose its sole boys-only school.

Parents are being asked for their views on plans for City of Portsmouth Boys becoming co-educational.

Mike Smith, headteacher at the school in Hilsea, said the plans are being considered because there is not enough demand in the city for a boys-only school.

‘An all-boys option has been shown to be less popular with parents,’ he said.

‘What we have tried to do is provide parents with a choice.

‘It’s not that parents don’t think it’s a good school, it’s that they don’t choose to send their son to an all-boys school.’

The school has room for more than 900 pupils but at present fewer than 500 attend.

Mr Smith added: ‘Parents have a view that an all-boys education is about discipline and sport and about being physical and boisterous. That’s not what it’s like at all.

‘This is based around the pressure on secondary school places over the next five years.

‘With the Tipner development likely to bring more houses to the area, we are the closest secondary school.’

Mr Smith added any boys at the school now will continue to have a single-sex education.

‘The response from our own parents will be against it because they chose single-sex education for their son and that’s what they wanted,’ he said.

‘I’m disappointed for our parents. They chose it for good reasons and the right reasons.

‘But this is a good school whether it’s for boys or girls.’

The Portsmouth Academy for Girls has confirmed there are no plans for it to become a co-educational school.

Alison Harfield has two boys – Samuel, 13, who is in Year nine at the school, and Joshua, 10, who is in Year five but was planning to join the school in September 2015.

The 42-year-old from Kensington Road in Copnor, said: ‘I support the school wholeheartedly. My son has progressed very well there.

‘But I feel this is wrong. Not all boys want girls in the classroom. They need to develop their own characteristics.

‘You’re offering a choice to a girl that you’re not offering to a boy. That’s wrong.’

A public meeting will take place at the school on Tuesday. The public consultation runs until Friday, April 4.

THE announcement comes weeks after an Ofsted inspection at the school.

Inspectors graded the school in the third category of ‘requires improvement’, down from good in 2011.

The report said that standards were low in 2013 and that too few students made good progress from their starting points.

It also added that teaching is not consistently good or better. But the report also said that students feel safe and relationships are good.

Mr Smith said last year’s poor GCSE results of 33 per cent gold standard - five grade A* to C grades including English and maths – contributed to the overall Ofsted grading.

‘We moved from good to requires improvement which is good bearing in mind our GCSE results were shocking,’ he said.

‘We don’t expect to be in that position again. Ofsted came in on the back of that and they were clearly expecting to see a school in disarray and chaos. But they found the opposite.

‘We know that the results don’t in any way reflect the quality of education that the boys get.

‘The boys that are here enjoy coming to this school because they get a good education.

‘It seems odd to say we were pleased with a report that’s lower than last time. But it was a tremendous achievement.’

Inspectors said that the school needs to improve the quality of teaching and strengthen the leadership and management.

And Mr Smith said the school has been working with the Bitterne Park Teaching School Alliance in Southampton to improve standards.

‘We have been working in partnership with Bitterne Park to drive up standards of teaching,’ he said.

‘I’m confident that the next set of results will be where it needs to be and the next inspection will go back to good.’