Members of the community in Portchester have been celebrating as the local secondary school marked its 75th year. Education reporter Ruth Scammell finds out more about the history of Portchester Community School.
It was 75 years ago, as Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, that Portchester Community School first opened.
Since then it has seen generations of children walk through its doors.
To mark the milestone, the school has invited the wider community to join in the celebrations by bringing in old photographs and sharing memories of their time at the school.
Headteacher Richard Carlyle says: ‘It’s very positive.
‘What it does is it just emphasises the fact that Portchester has got a strong community feel around its school.
‘It’s conjured up hundreds of photographs and memories from past pupils.
‘Generations of Portchester residents have been successful at the school.
‘It’s been nice to reflect on some of the things that do and don’t change.
‘The relationship with the primary schools is as strong as ever.
‘It’s quite interesting to see what the school used to be like.’
During the war, many of the male teachers at the school went off to complete national service and fight for their country and there was a shortage of teachers.
So supply teachers were brought in to make up the numbers.
‘It affected the teaching staff,’ Mr Carlyle says.
‘Many of the male staff were away and supply teachers were brought to the school.
‘Children suffered at the hands of constant air raids.’
On June 20, 1940, the air raids lasted for a total of four hours.
‘Many of the children were very tired,’ Mr Carlyle adds.
‘A total of 130 students were absent on the day following the air raid.’
The school also used to be a health hub, with a dentist and an optician carrying out tests on site for the children who attended.
And although this doesn’t happen anymore, the school has developed and moved on with modern education.
‘The use of technology has been instrumental in bringing the school forward to the 20th century,’ Mr Carlyle adds.
‘There was a pre-occupation with health and attendance which is important but there’s very little reference to standards as you would talk about in the modern Ofsted climate.
‘There was a lot of emphasis about moving on to work but not a lot about further and higher education which states what the class system was like in the 30s and 40s.
‘Secondary education was about securing basic skills to go out and get a job whereas now it’s about lifelong learning and furthering education into a career.’
People across the community have been paying a visit to the school recently to admire the exhibition which was set up in the reception in order to mark the 75th anniversary.
Now, the school will celebrate with a community lunch and tea party and former pupils and former staff will be invited in to share their tales with current pupils.
The event will be split up into three different sections of the school’s history and people will enjoy food from that era.
The school will set up memorial books so people can share their memories.
Amongst all the old photographs were old inspection reports dating back to March 1947.
Inspectors spoke about the need for congregational singing practice to improve the standard of singing and the importance of having a male science teacher.
Inspectors also placed a real importance on the lack of flowers and flowering shrubs.
Nowadays, the focus is on expectations of staff and students and exam results.
‘Members of the community have been meeting the children to share their experiences,’ Mr Carlyle says.
‘It’s important for children to know what people have gone on to do with their lives.
‘Lots of people have moved away and then moved back to Portchester.
‘It fits very well with children understanding their own community.
‘The children are excited but the adults are more excited.
‘It’s given them the opportunity to re-establish some lost connections with friends and family.
‘It’s re-connecting the community.’
The school has close connections with the local community, running Castle Street Day Care for the elderly and working with the Portchester Community Centre.
Laura Barnes, 16, is in Year 11.
She says: ‘It just shows how much the school has changed over the years.
‘It’s interesting to look back at how different it was.
‘We are learning about the war in history and our school opened at that time.
‘It’s a good school. It’s a different school because it’s more of a family environment because of the community side of it.
Holly Roberts, 15, is also in Year 11.
She says she is thrilled the school has such a long history.
‘It’s amazing. It’s come so far.
‘We have been looking at pictures.
‘It’s incredible how much it’s changed.
‘It’s a great place to be. I love coming to school every morning.
‘Everyone is so friendly. The teachers help you so much and offer support to us.’
And Holly says she is looking forward to welcoming former pupils back to the school.
‘We are going to share stories and make a memory book and get to know them and what life was like at the school in their time,’ she says.
MEMBERS of the community have been reflecting on the significant role the school has played.
Paul Woodman is a member of the Portchester Civic Society. He helped to put up the exhibition and provided photographs of the school over the last 75 years.
He says: ‘It’s a very good school.
‘It started off in September 1939. There weren’t many pupils at first because a lot of them had been moved off to the countryside and evacuated.
‘It’s gone on through the years and has changed to keep up with the growing nature of education.
‘The school affects everybody. It’s just part of the life of Portchester.’
Councillor Roger Price has been serving the community of Portchester for more than 40 years.
He adds: ‘Portchester Community School is right at the heart of educating all the young people of Portchester.
‘Over the years it’s provided some very talented youngsters that have gone on to many different and very responsible jobs.
‘We now have a which is very keen on the education and discipline and the youngsters know where the benchmarks are. That’s good for the community.
‘What is interesting is if you look at the photographs you can see families who have lived in Portchester for many years.
‘There are generations of families where the grandparents and parents and then their children have gone to the school.’