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Portsmouth Grammar School

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The Portsmouth Grammar School
Portsmouth Grammar School (crest).tiff
High Street

, ,

Coordinates50°47′30″N 1°05′59″W / 50.791784°N 1.0998°W / 50.791784; -1.0998Coordinates: 50°47′30″N 1°05′59″W / 50.791784°N 1.0998°W / 50.791784; -1.0998
TypeIndependent school
MottoPraemia Virtutis Honores
FounderWilliam Smith
Chairman of the GovernorsWalther Cha
HeadmasterAnne Cotton[1]
Age2 to 18
Colour(s)     Red
PublicationThe Portmuthian
School hymnAll My Hope on God is Founded
Former pupilsOld Portmuthians
School blogPortsmouth Point
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[2] 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.[3][4][needs update]


The old Grammar School building now houses the Upper Junior School

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 nominating one further Governor. In 1926 the school moved from its original Victorian premises to Cambridge Barracks.[5] The school was hit by bombs during the Second World War.[6]

In 1976, with the removal of the Direct Grant, it stopped being a grammar school under the Tripartite System, though kept the term as part of its name, and at the same time, it started to accept girl pupils.[7] The Upper Junior School (Years 5-6) is situated in the original Victorian building which once contained the whole Grammar School. The Nursery, Lower Junior School (Reception to Year 4), Middle School and Upper School are located across the road on the High Street. 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 Anne Cotton. The school spent £6 million on a new Science building in 2011.[8]

Academic performance[edit]

In 2004 the school came 67 out of 100 in a Guardian list of Top independent school's UCAS scores,[9] There was an average AS/A level point score of 939.1 in 2009.[10]

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.


It is PGS's policy to deal with serious breaches of its code of conduct and school rules severely. 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, Syria, Russia, Norway, Hungary, Uganda 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, Spain 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".

The school was involved in the establishment of the education charity United World Schools and since 2010 has funded a Partner School in Cambodia through co-curricular activities.[11]


Within the school grounds is a sports centre containing a multi-purpose hall, gymnasium, squash courts, weight lifting room and dance rooms. The school has sports grounds at Hilsea, which include various pitches as well as a pavilion. The school sometimes uses the HMS Temeraire grounds, and Governors Green in Portsmouth.


The School has a Combined Cadet Force open to pupils in Year 9 and above, which has Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy sections.


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.[citation needed]


The school has run mock elections for notable elections that have occurred at the time. In 2010, the History & Politics Department organised school elections for the 2010 UK election, where the school narrowly elected the Conservative Party,[12] whilst in the 2012 US election the school voted in favour of the Democrats[13]

Old Portmuthians[edit]

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About the Head". The Portsmouth Grammar School. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  2. ^ A-Level Exam Results 2009 in The Daily Mail
  3. ^ 2008 A-Level Results and GCSE Results in The Times, 2008
  4. ^ League tables: GCSE and A-Level results for Portsmouth in The Guardian, 15 January 2009
  5. ^ Historic England. "Portsmouth Grammar School and attached railings (1333199)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 17 September 2017.
  6. ^ Groombridge, Garth (2017). "Portsmouth in 50 Buildings". Amberley Publishing. ISBN 978-1445664064.
  7. ^ "1970-1979". Portsmouth Grammar School. Retrieved 2 October 2019.
  8. ^ "New Science Centre". Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  9. ^ Top 100 Independent Schools 2004 in The Guardian, 27 August 2004
  10. ^ "Performance results for The Portsmouth Grammar School". BBC News. 13 January 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  11. ^ Nassif, Aline (23 May 2012). "Dancers raise thousands". Portsmouth News. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  12. ^ Prospective Mini MPs Canvas for Votes in Mock Election from the PGS Website, cached by ZoomInfo
  13. ^ "Obama Re-elected by US and PGS". Portsmouth Point. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.

External links[edit]