Portsmouth Grammar School

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The Portsmouth Grammar School
Portsmouth Grammar School (crest).tiff
Motto Praemia Virtutis Honores
Established 1732
Type Independent school
Religion Non-denominational with
Church of England alignment
Headmaster Mr. James Priory
Chairman of the Governors Mr. Brian Larkman
Founder Dr. William Smith MA
Location High Street
England Coordinates: 50°47′30″N 1°05′59″W / 50.791784°N 1.0998°W / 50.791784; -1.0998
Staff ~172
Gender Mixed
Ages 2–18
Houses 4
Colours      Red
Publication The Portmuthian
School hymn All My Hope on God is Founded
Former pupils Old Portmuthians
School blog Portsmouth Point
Website www.pgs.org.uk
Frontispiece, The Portsmouth Grammar School

The Portsmouth Grammar School is a co-educational independent school in Portsmouth, England, located in the historic part of the city. Founded in 1732 as a boys' school, it has become one of the top independent schools in the UK[1] consistently ranking highly in national reviews of teaching quality and examination results. It is widely regarded as the best school in the area and is known for its consistent 100% GCSE pass rate.[2][3]


In 1732, William Smith, a former Mayor of Portsmouth and previously the garrison physician, died and left his estate to Christ Church, Oxford. His will contained instructions to build a new school in Portsmouth and thus, The Portsmouth Grammar School (PGS) was founded. The will of the founder is reflected to this day in that two Governors continue to be nominated by Christ Church. The school also retains its naval links, with The Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command nominating one further Governor.

Since then it has undergone a series of changes - including slight alterations to its location, some of which were due to bombing in World War II, its conversion to co-education, and the abolition of boarding.

As of 2010 the Upper Junior School (Years 5-6) is situated in a Victorian building (which once contained the whole Grammar School) close to part of the University of Portsmouth. The Nursery, Lower Junior School (Reception to Year 4), Middle School and Upper School are located across the road on the High Street. The majority of that area used to be the Cambridge Barracks: a building used by the army which was ravaged by fire after bombing by the Luftwaffe.

The school colours are red, black and gold, and the school motto is Praemia Virtutis Honores (English: Honours are the rewards of virtue). The current Headmaster is Mr J Priory. The school recently spent £6 million[4] on a new Science building.

Academic performance[edit]

The school is academically strong,[5] with an average AS/A level point score of 939.1 in 2009, which is almost 50% over the national average.[6]

Over 90% of pupils achieve a place at their first choice university and most go on to study at Russell Group universities; up to 20% go on to Oxbridge.[7]

Internal structure[edit]

Portsmouth Grammar School consists of three sections: Nursery (ages 2-4), Junior School (Reception to Year 6) and Senior School (Year 7 to Sixth Form).


The Main Arch, The Portsmouth Grammar School

In each section of PGS there are four houses, each represented by a colour and named after a former schoolmaster. Although these colours remain the same, the names change in each section of the School:

Junior School Middle School Upper School
Hudson Barton Grant
Jerrard Eastwood Latter
Nicol Hawkey Smith
Privett Summers Whitcombe

Houses form the basis of the school pastoral system and provide a continued 'home' throughout a pupil's time at the school. In the Upper School, each house has its own common room. Sixth Formers have their own common area and cafe, known as the Sixth Form Centre. Sixth Formers also have their own library.


The ISI inspection report of 2004 commented that "discipline is maintained with a soft touch due to the good relations between pupils and teachers."

It is PGS's policy to deal with serious breaches of its code of conduct and school rules severely:

  • On the lowest end of the scale, lunchtime and breaktime detentions can be administered,
  • For more serious breaches, after school detentions on Thursdays can be administered,
  • Above that Headmaster's detentions are carried out on Saturday mornings.
  • For the most serious of breaches of conduct (for example theft) the Headmaster has the power to suspend and expel students. Traditionally, however, pupils are not 'expelled', but in a meeting convened between the Headmaster and the pupil's parents, it is made clear to the parents that it would be for the best if they were to withdraw their child from the school. Expulsion is thus known at PGS as 'being asked to leave'.


Prefects also perform a minor role in school discipline, performing duties such as monitoring classroom and the tuck shop during breaks and ushering pupils at large school events. They are expected to set an example to younger pupils and are given the authority to issue lunchtime detentions. Chosen in Year 12 by a combination of discussions between teachers and the Headmaster and a student vote, around forty-five pupils are awarded with diagonally-striped red and gold ties. A few pupils have golden buttons; these are the Deputy Senior Prefects. A Senior Prefect is also chosen to preside over shared responsibilities, however since 2012-13, two Senior Prefects have been selected to jointly lead the team.

Co-curricular activities[edit]

Pupils take part in trips each term to visit various countries. Pupils have visited France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, The United States, Russia, Norway and a number of other countries. Exchanges take place as a part of the Modern Languages programme each year, with pupils spending time in France or Germany and receiving a visit from their counterpart. Additionally, sports teams travel each year to various locations, which have included South Africa and Australia.

Aside from trips abroad, extracurricular activities include the Combined Cadet Force (see below), a Debating Club, Wildlife Club, "Stock Market Club", "Model Rockets", and "Middle School Textiles Club".


GCSE and AS/A-level assessment performances take place on weekday evenings to an audience of parents and friends of the pupils involved. In terms of extracurricular drama, the scene is varied; a great deal of change has occurred within the Drama Department recently, with the building of a new theatre and several new ventures being undertaken. Annual drama events include:

  • "Sixth Form Shakespeare" - a pupil-organised production of one of the bard's comedies, performed outdoors at the school's playing fields at Hilsea during the Summer Term.
  • Musical - a classic West End musical, organised with the help of a director-in-residence, performed at the King's Theatre, Southsea, in early December.
  • House Drama Competition - an inter-house contest in which small groups perform an extract from a play or musical for judgement and ranking.
  • The Middle School Play - with younger members of the upper school (years 7 and 8); plays have varied from Shakespeare to The Government Inspector and are performed in the Summer Term.
  • The Year Six Play - undertaken by Junior School members in year six.


Within the school grounds are a sports centre containing a multi-purpose hall, gymnasium, squash courts, weight lifting room and dance rooms.

The school also has extensive sports grounds at Hilsea, which include tennis courts, cricket and rugby pitches, and an all-weather astro-turf pitch as well as a pavilion. The school sometimes uses the HMS Temeraire grounds, and Governors Green in Portsmouth.

Sports offered rugby, cricket, hockey, tennis, netball, squash, shooting, fencing, rowing and croquet.


The School has a Combined Cadet Force open to pupils in Year 9 and above. This comprises the Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy sections. Cadets learn skills of navigation, leadership, drill, outdoor survival, adventure training, flying, sailing and shooting as part of the CCF. Each section has its own residential camps based around the country throughout the year, with opportunities to shoot on ranges, sail, fly in planes and adventure training.


In an article in the September 2006 BBC Music Magazine, the following was written about the music at PGS:

There are several ensembles that perform regularly, many conducted by the school's associate conductor, Nicolae Moldoveanu. The PGS Chamber Choir sang at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in 2005 and went on tour to Salzburg at Christmas 2006. The Choir also sings regularly with the London Mozart Players and upholds an annual tradition of singing Evensong at Christ Church, Oxford.

Weekly lunchtime recitals are held in the Music Department for soloists.


PGS runs its own Model United Nations which meets weekly. The school also hosts an MUN Conference annually and are joined by local school delegation teams.[8] The school has run mock elections for notable elections that have occurred at the time. In recent years, the History & Politics Department have organised school elections for the 2010 UK election, where the school narrowly elected the Conservative Party,[9] whilst in the 2012 US election the school voted in favour of the Democrats[10]

Old Portmuthians[edit]

Alumni are known as Old Portmuthians and may join The Old Portmuthian Club, founded in 1885. Notable OPs include


External links[edit]