With the introduction of the national curriculum, secondary heads became concerned that its third key stage was split between the middle and the secondary schools in Portsmouth and in some other parts of Hampshire. As the result of intensive campaigning by the Hampshire Secondary Heads’ Conference, the LEA decided to transfer pupils to secondary school at the age of eleven with effect from September 1994. As part of the same process the middle schools were converted to junior schools and the first schools to infant schools.
Although the change was generally welcomed by secondary schools, its impact on admissions caused problems for the local authority and the schools themselves, since there was insufficient room on Portsea Island for all the pupils requiring secondary places.
The pressure for places was particularly strong in the case of Priory, which was increasingly developing a high reputation in the local community. The period was marked by intakes well-above the standard admission number, swollen by agreement between the school and the LEA and also by the results of independent appeals.
The admission of the extra pupils, which took the number on roll at Priory up to approximately 1,300, required the provision of additional teaching spaces. This was achieved by the erection of two temporary classrooms in the west playground, the rationalisation of the first floor of the technology building to provide more but smaller rooms (involving the splitting up of a large open-plan home economics area), and similar conversions in the top floor of the main building. The lecture theatre and an adjoining classroom were converted to house the Information Resource Centre, which formerly occupied Rooms 8 and 9. An extra science laboratory was constructed in the quadrangle block by the conversion of two small rooms and a corridor area.
In February 1995, the school underwent its first full inspection by the Office for Standards in Education, another innovation of the 1988 Education Act. Staff and governors were delighted to receive a very good report, in which Priory was described as ” a good school that does well by its pupils”.
At the time of writing, as Priory moves into the last few years of the old millennium and towards its centenary, two major changes are imminent, both of which will be influential on the future development of the school.
In April 1997, local government reorganisation will return the control of Portsmouth maintained schools, apart from the few that have become grant-maintained, to the City Council, albeit within the greatly changed scenario of largely delegated budgets.
In September 1997, a new headteacher is due to take up post, following the retirement of the writer.
Others may, in the future, wish to produce a new, updated edition of these notes. Perhaps the centenary of the laying of the foundation stone on 17 July 2006 would be an appropriate occasion ……