Bournemouth School

Bournemouth School is a boys' grammar school and co-educational sixth form in Charminster, Bournemouth, Dorset, England, for children aged 11 to 18.

Bournemouth School
East Way

, ,

Coordinates50°44′55″N 1°51′30″W
TypeGrammar school;
MottoPulchritūdō et Salūbritas (Latin)
Beauty and Health (English)
FounderDr E Fenwick
Department for Education URN137452 Tables
HeadmasterDr Dorian Lewis
Staff72 full-time teachers, 32 auxiliary staff
Age11 to 18
Enrolment1,088 (lower school), 388 (Sixth form, though this is set to increase)
HousesDarwin (Yellow), Elgar (Light Blue), Newton (Dark Blue), Scott (Red), Moore (Purple) and Turner (Green)
Colour(s)Blue, Grey, White, Brown
Chairman of GovernorsDavid Sidwick
Official ethosHard Work, Smart Appearance, Discipline, Respect


The school was founded by Dr. E. Fenwick and opened on 22 January 1901, admitting 54 boys. The 1906 syllabus included natural science, drawing, vocal music, drill and gymnastics alongside history, geography, shorthand and book keeping. During the First World War, at least 651 young men who had been or were attached to the school served, and 98 of those died, while 95 were wounded.[1]

The school moved to the present East Way site in 1939, formerly occupying buildings in Porchester Road and Lowther Road.

From 1939 to 1945 the school housed over 600 members from Taunton's School, Southampton (then a grammar, now a sixth form college), due to evacuation from large cities.[2] Among the Taunton staff was English master Dr. Horace King, later Lord Maybray-King, Speaker of the House of Commons.

On 2 June 1940, about 800 French soldiers evacuated form Dunkirk were temporarily billeted in the school. Additional gas cookers were installed in the kitchen (now Languages Office) and staff were involved in preparing food and drink for the soldiers who occupied corridors and form rooms. One form room was used a temporary hospital for the more seriously wounded. Two days later, a further 300 arrived and remained in the school for about a week. An absence of occupation was not to last long. On 19 June, after the French had been moved elsewhere, 400 or so British soldiers arrived, having been rescued from Cherbourg by the Royal Navy. It was agreed they would occupy the ground floor, leaving the senior school to carry out their summer examinations in the rooms above. Normal education resumed on 26 June.


  • 1901 Dr. E. Fenwick, M.A., LL.D., B.Sc.
  • 1932 Mr. J. E. Parry, M.A., B.Litt. (Oxon) M.A. (Wales)
  • 1957 Mr. E. G. Bennett, M.A. (Cantab.)
  • 1971 Mr. H. P. Harper, M.A. (Oxon)
  • 1982 Mr. J. A. B. Kelsall, M.A.
  • 1987 Mr. A. F. P. Petrie, M.A.
  • 1996 Mr. J. Granger, B.Sc.
  • 2009 Dr. D. P. Lewis, C.Chem. (Soton) MRSC


The original Victorian school buildings occupied a plot in Porchester Road. Adjacent to the main school was the purpose-built boarding house (pictured), in which the headmaster and a select number of boarders lived (at an annual fee of 12 guineas). As the number of students increased (200 in 1904, 306 in 1914, 479 in 1925), so too did the accommodation; the school encompassed a former Royal Victoria Hospital in 1925 for lower school classes, which was situated in the nearby Lowther Road. The two sites were known within the school as "Porchester" and "Lowther".

In 1935, planning for new school buildings on the northern fringe of Charminster began. Various proposals were considered and the Council decided to allocate 10 acres for the new school in East Way. Building operations were begun early in 1937 and the Foundation Stones were laid on 25 May. They were erected from the designs and under the supervision of Mr. W. L. Clowes, M.Inst.M. and Cy. E., Borough Engineer and Architect and a well-known Bournemouth Rotarian from 1936 onwards.

They opened in 1939 and were first occupied by the boys from Porchester and Lowther in conjunction with evacuees from Taunton's School in Southampton. Soon after, HORSA huts were erected to the north of the main buildings to house more classrooms. Further extensions to the buildings were made in subsequent years, with the canteen (previously above the Old Gym) built in 1957, a new physics laboratory built in 1958, Rooms 40 and 41 (now 9 and 10) in 1959, a new chemistry laboratory in 1961, a steel-framed structure above the single-storey north-eastern section (at the time of building, notorious for rocking in the wind) in the early 1990s and office space for Housemasters and admin staff later in 1992 (at the time the present House system was introduced). Larger scale building works include the Sixth Form Block in 1968,[3] the Art, Technology and Maths Blocks in the 1990s and 2000s (replacing the HORSA huts) and the Sir David English Centre in 1999 (replacing the increasingly neglected, vandalised and subsequently demolished pavilions). The Sixth Form Block made no provision for social space, and so the Sixth Form Memorial Hall (now Drama Studio) was opened in 1974 to provide a common room for use by the students. What was formerly a bike shed beneath the Junior Playground, and then a woodwork room, now forms the Sixth Form common room.

In 1973, the school hall burnt down.[1] Evidence of the fire can be seen in the wooden flooring tiles in the doorway of Room 21. The new hall was opened in 1975. Its floorpan encompassed what had previously been two corridors running along either side of the old hall, thereby making much better use of space. Furthermore, the old hall had no electricity supply or dressing-rooms, meaning that despite the short-term disruption, Bournemouth School now enjoys a larger and much better-equipped facility for assemblies, productions and other events.

The old sites in Porchester Road and Lowther Road were used by Portchester School from 1940 until 1989, when it moved to Harewood Avenue. The boarding house was demolished to make way for the Wessex Way in the early 1960s, "Lowther" was demolished in the 1980s, the site being redeveloped into the new Malmesbury Park Primary School, and "Porchester" was redeveloped in 1990 into Fenwick Court, a housing estate. Nothing, therefore, of the pre-East Way buildings remains.

Grammar school status

From the mid-1950s, 'grammar streams' were introduced into all Bournemouth secondary modern schools, and they effectively became bilateral schools. This idea was pioneered by the Chief Education Officer of the County Borough of Bournemouth from 1956–72, Walter Smedley (who died aged 98 in June 2006) who was a former technical college lecturer, and allowed easier movement between the 'grammar streams' in these schools and the grammar schools. The system was nationally recognised, as it allowed greater flexibility, as is possible in comprehensive schools, but allowed academic standards to be maintained - people's ability was still recognised. Movement was down as well as up.[4] The system was well supported by parents.[5] The rate of pupils staying on at school in the sixth form was 50% higher than the national average in the 1960s. Selection to the grammar schools from 1965 was not assessed by a single exam, but continuously. In the late 1960s, Bournemouth's schools were producing GCE results 250% better than comprehensives in London's ILEA.

However, in 1969, Edward Short, Baron Glenamara, the Labour education secretary, condemned Bournemouth's education system. Once Smedley left in 1972, the bilateral schools later became comprehensives. The last school of this type was Oakmead College of Technology. Entrance exams for the grammar schools were also reintroduced. Bournemouth LEA still gets very good exam results, especially at A level. Dorset County Council took over from 1974-97.

In 2011, Bournemouth School ceased to hold its "selective grammar school" status, as it became an academy. The school kept its original name as well as its uniform and entrance examination through the change, however the school is now directly funded and overseen by the government rather than a local education authority.


The school shares playing fields with Bournemouth School for Girls and co-operates with them in theatre productions. Sixth form students often visit local primary schools to aid with teaching.

All students use the Sir David English Sports Centre for physical education lessons.

The annual sports day, acting as the climax of the House Competition, takes place at the King's Park athletics stadium.


Until September 1993, there were six houses, named Avon, Forest, Hambledon, Portchester, Romsey and Twynham. There were previous forms of the house system before the school moved to East Way, at one stage being named Trojans, Spartans, Romans and Corinthians.

However, the current houses were introduced in 1993 when the Headmaster, Col. Allan Petrie, restructured the house system by creating five new ones and appointing five new house masters (and building the current house offices). The first house masters named their respective house after an influential figure in their teaching subject: Dr. Waite (Chemistry) chose Darwin; Mrs. Bentley (Geography) chose Scott; Mr. Clench (Art) chose Turner and Mr. Sanders (Mathematics) chose Newton. The exception to the rule is Elgar, named by Mr. Beardshaw (R. S.).

All forms are delineated by house affiliation and as such pupils from year 7 to year 11 remain in the same form, in the sixth form the pupils from each house are distributed between three forms to encourage a better relationship between lower and upper sixth. Although their 'form tutor' and 'form room' usually change every year, their house remains the same for the entirety of the school. It has become convention for siblings to be placed in the same house. The houses compete in school competitions ranging from sports to educational competitions.

As of September 2019, there has been a sixth house - Moore house, named after world cup winner, England football captain, Bobby Moore.


Students can first apply to be a prefect at the end of Year 10. House masters normally choose six of the applicants from each form to become house prefects (awarding them prefect badges). Students can also apply at the beginning of lower sixth. Typically the number of prefects doubles during this process. Students remain house prefects until they can apply to become a school prefect (being awarded a prefect tie clip) or a senior prefect (being awarded a tie with the school crest woven into the fabric) during Year 12. The senior prefect team has an application process consisting of an interview with the headmaster, a "Dragon's Den task", a pupil vote and a teacher vote. It consists of the school captain, four deputy-school captains and the captains of the five houses. Privileges of the senior prefect team include invitations to the annual Old Bournemouthians' dinner.

Language specialism

From the late 1990s until the school became an academy in September 2012, Bournemouth School was designated a specialist Language College (such accreditation is not available to schools with Foundation status). Languages offered to both pupils, and communities at large, included French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. In 2012 all but three of these were cut for financial reasons as the status was renounced.

To allow pupils to extend their language skills there is a student exchange programme. The language college has two computer suites, interactive whiteboards and extra staff. The school also provides services for primary schools in the area, teaching languages to their pupils.

Student Voice

Students can voice their own opinion on how their school is run through the medium of a Student Voice (formerly School Council). The committee is run and chaired by one of the deputy school captains with one council member from each form of the school. All students are free to stand for student voice elections and, once the particular person has been chosen, they will then attend various meetings, discussions and conferences where they will represent their particular group of the pupils at the school. During the annual selection of the senior prefect team, the senior leadership staff interview candidates concerning various areas of the school which could be subject to change and improvement.

Combined Cadet Force

The school also has an active Combined Cadet Force (CCF), a rarity for a state-funded school. The CCF has over 200 members (split into the three sections of Royal Navy, Army and RAF), the largest it has been for many years, from both Bournemouth School for Girls and Bournemouth School. The CCF is open to pupils in year 9 (age 13) upwards with an annual recruitment usually in late November.

There is also a Band section that rehearses every week, also run by sixth form cadets, with each member choosing which uniform they wish to wear according to the section they want to be affiliated with.

Activities that cadets are able to take part in include gliding, flying, shooting, Ten Tors walk, national exchanges and camps including a Central Camp in the summer term. The RAF section also enter the Ground Training Competition every year; this year they were ranked as the third best section in the south-west and best mixed-sex section in the south-west.

Cadets can also go on many camps and courses provided by the Royal Navy for little expense. These are well received with a large number of cadets taking the opportunity to get away for a week and gain useful qualifications

The school also has an armoury, containing between 20 and 30 rifles for the cadets to use. Most are SA80 L98A2 rifles (Cadet GP Variant), but a handful are Lee–Enfield rifles. All are bolt-action, and are used to train cadets how to load, cock and clean a rifle. These are fired on the school's on-site firing range, located in a bunker in the copse behind the main building. Ex-cadets are invited to join the COMPO mailing list.

Sixth form

Bournemouth School has a sixth form with both pupils who attended the lower years and a number of pupils from surrounding schools. The sixth form year groups are larger in size than the lower years. The sixth form currently numbers 377 students, though this is set to increase.

Girls in the sixth form

Bournemouth School accepted 15 female applicants to the sixth form for the first time in September 2012, and this number has risen since and in September 2013 37 female students joined the school.[6]

Notable former pupils


  1. Parker, Ross (22 January 2001). "The first centenary: 100 years of Bournemouth School | The Old Bournemouthians' Association". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  2. "School move for war effort (From Bournemouth Echo)". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  3. "100 today, Bournemouth School looks to the future". Dorset Echo. Newsquest. 22 January 2001. Archived from the original on 25 June 2007. Retrieved 30 July 2007. In 1966 the biggest transformation took place with the building of the sixth form block -known colloquially as "The John Gibbons Politics Block" by past alumni - including a lecture theatre and a rather limited library
  4. Peter Preston. "Politicians don't get results in education. Schools do | Education". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  5. "Girls allowed at Bournemouth boys' grammar school for first time". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  6. "Mark Austin" (PDF). University of Bournemouth. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
  7. "Christian Bale Biography". The Biography Channel website. Retrieved 25 March 2013.
  8. Awford, Jenny (28 January 2014). "12 famous people who have lived in Bournemouth". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  9. "Dennis Curry". London: Telegraph. 17 April 2001. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  10. Archived 24 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  11. Lancaster, TERENCE (12 June 1998). "Obituary: Sir David English". The Independent. London. Retrieved 19 January 2013.
  12. "Youth sport - rugby: Ex-Bournemouth junior Charlie Ewels stars in England's world triumph (From Bournemouth Echo)". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  13. Debrett's People of Today 2005 (18th ed.). Debrett's. p. 561. ISBN 1-870520-10-6.
  14. "Bournemouth's own Bond villain". Dorset Echo. 6 February 2001. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  15. "Jasper Dodds on film". oldbournemouthians. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  16. Sir Raymond Streat (1987). Lancashire and Whitehall: The Diary of Sir Raymond Streat. Manchester University Press. p. 307. ISBN 978-0-7190-2390-3. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  17. David Hilliam (26 December 2010). Little Book of Dorset. History Press Limited. p. 136. ISBN 978-0-7524-6265-3. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  18. "Blur bassist back in Bournemouth for honorary degree (From Bournemouth Echo)". 6 November 2010. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  19. "Miles Reid". University of Warwick. Retrieved 4 October 2017.
  20. Samuel Hines, entry on Michael Roberts in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition October 2009.
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