The loss of ‘Charles’ is a loss to city’s proud past

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So what’s in a name?

Well, quite a lot, actually, judging by the reaction to our story on the front page today.

After decades of being named after one of Portsmouth’s most famous sons, Charles Dickens Primary School will now be Ark Dickens.

It comes as the school gets set to be become an academy, meaning it will be publicly funded and operate outside of local authority control. The name of the company taking charge? Ark – hence the rebranding.

Predictably, the decision to drop the first name of one of the world’s most celebrated writers from the school which stands less than half a mile from his birthplace has not been well received.

As Professor Tony Pointon from the Dickens Fellowship in Portsmouth says: ‘To cast it away so lightly does seems a very sad thing.’

Ark can rightly argue that the name change will become insignificant if the education charity succeeds with its ultimate aim of improving standards and pupil performance at the school.

That, of course, means far more than the letters which are displayed on any board outside.

In the year that a statue of Charles Dickens was unveiled in Guildhall Square to mark what would have been his 202nd birthday, there is also plenty in the city to ensure his connections will never be forgotten.

But Charles Dickens is a name synonymous with Portsmouth, a world-famous author we should be proud to boast as our own at every given opportunity.

Ark say the switch will ‘provide new opportunities to work with other schools to strengthen standards’. We would argue it all seems rather needless, especially when another city school run by the charity – Charter Academy – has been spared the Ark brand.

It may indeed be just a name but the education operator could well do with a reminder about the importance of the past.

A fitting quote comes from political satirist PJ O’Rourke rather than the great Dickens himself: ‘Those who do not know history – are probably also not doing well in English or math.’

To read the full story click here.