Itchen College as seen from Middle Road.
|Type||Sixth Form College|
|DfE URN||130704 Tables|
|Ages||16–19 and Adult|
Itchen Sixth Form College (aka Itchen College) is an educational facility on the eastern side of Southampton, which has been operating since 1906. Originally a co-educational secondary school, it later became Itchen Grammar School under the reforms of the Butler Education Act. Following further reform in the 1980s, it is now a community sixth form college for students aged 16–19, with approximately 1,450 students.
Itchen Pupil Teacher's Centre
Itchen College opened on 6 October 1906 as a Pupil Teacher’s Centre in Raymond Lodge, Bridge Road, Woolston. It later moved to the first floor of Porchester Road Elementary School (which later became Woolston Secondary School for Boys), Woolston, in 1916.
Pupils started at the centre at age 13 and took the Cambridge Junior Local Examination after completing a two-year course. If they passed the exam, they could go on to become pupil teachers before moving on to teacher training college.
The first permanent Principal of the centre was Edith North, who held the position until 1916. She was succeeded by Miss G.V. Cook, who remained Headmistress until 1918, when she was promoted to a larger school in East London. A temporary Headmistress, Mrs Macrae-Gibson, took over until it was decided that a Headmaster should be appointed. The person appointed was Mr F.J. Hemmings, in 1919.
Expansion and move to Middle Road
In 1908, the local Board of Education called for improved secondary education facilities. A report titled 'Woolston New Secondary School' was drafted up by the Director of Education, recommending a school to accommodate 170 children.
Plans for a new building on a larger site were then drawn up, but financial difficulties meant that the land at Middle Road (the college's current site) was not bought until 1912. The land was rough and covered with gorse, bracken, and blackberry bushes, and World War I broke out before work could start to clear it.
The plans for a new school were shelved during the war and it wasn't until 1919 that they were reconsidered. Work at erecting temporary structures to house the new influx of post-war students was slow, however, and the centre couldn't relocate until 1921.
Itchen Secondary School
The temporary buildings consisted of: a science laboratory; a workshop for woodwork and metalwork; a housecraft room; an assembly room that doubled as art and physics rooms; two staff rooms; and a Headmaster's room. The school had to keep using four rooms at the Porchester Road School, as the temporary buildings at Middle Road couldn't accommodate the large number of pupils. If pupils or staff needed to travel from one end of the school to another, it was a journey of one and a half miles.
In 1919, Mr Hemmings started an annual 'prize distribution' and 'speech day'. This took place every July, and is still a tradition that the current Itchen College does today with their annual 'Celebration Event'.
December 1930 Fire
Building work to complete the permanent buildings had all but stopped and in 1929 the Board of Education considered the move to complete them and improve the inadequate temporary facilities. However, before the completion plans had been drawn up, fire broke out on 8 December 1930. The Assembly Hall and Art room were completely destroyed, but the temporary huts escaped relatively unscathed. A temporary hall was put up quickly by the Board, but support for new facilities at Itchen languished and was given to two other secondary schools who were deemed to have a greater need for them - King Edward VI School, and the Girls' Grammar School.
Improvements to facilities
In 1934, Itchen Secondary School was given four new permanent classrooms and the temporary huts were finally replaced with a permanent structure. Principal Cotemann was still fighting for plans to be approved, demanding a gymnasium in 1935. The Board agreed in 1936 and, in 1937, work not only started on the gymnasium, but also on an entire new West Wing. This included an: assembly hall (including stage); gymnasium; dining room; and kitchen. An additional art room, craft room, Prefect's room, library, and senior mistresses' room were added shortly after.
World War II
When World War II broke out in 1939, the government’s plans to evacuate children from danger areas to safer parts of the country were put into effect. Because of Southampton's location on the south coast and its status as a large port city, it was an important target for the Luftwaffe (see Southampton Blitz). Because of this risk, the city's children were some of those covered by the government’s plans.
On 1 September 1939, half of Itchen Secondary School’s 520 pupils evacuated, the school combining with Andover Grammar School. Upon arrival, staff and senior boys dug air raid shelters before settling into life outside of Southampton.
Andover Grammar School had their lessons in the mornings while Itchen carried out theirs in the afternoon and evenings, generally between 13:30 and 17:30, and allowed alternate Saturday mornings off. This schedule posed difficulties for the students, as classrooms were full of stale air and they had to conduct lessons using gas lamps with blackout curtains up at the windows.
Finding accommodation was also difficult. Andover was also housing refugees from London so the town rapidly filled up. School staff had to undertake fire-watching duties.
Itchen’s new buildings were put to use during the war, being turned into an A.R.P. Post and Casualty Station with medical services. In 1940, French troops who had escaped Dunkirk, were given tea and sandwiches by the WRVS through the window of the Domestic Science room. A British restaurant was later established in the school’s dining hall.
Post World War II
Upon returning to the Southampton site, Itchen Secondary School had more problems to face. Many staff members had left or retired during the war and some of the school buildings were still occupied. The A.R.P. Post and Casualty Station with medical services remained in the gymnasium until 1948, and the British Restaurant remained until sometime after that.
The exterior of the school had suffered damage. The metal railings surrounding the grounds had been removed for scrap-iron during the war effort and the field and cricket pitch had been damaged. All attempts to repair the field and cricket pitch kept failing, as without fencing, people repeatedly trampled and ruined the new turf that had been laid. Eventually the field and cricket pitch were repaired to their pre-war condition.
There was an influx of students post-war, with pupil numbers doubling, mostly due to the Butler Education Act in 1944, which abolished grammar school fees in order to provide secondary school education for all.
Itchen Grammar School
Itchen Secondary School became a Grammar School in 1946 in order to accommodate the rising pupil numbers.
There were attempts to make the always coeducational school single-sex (girls only) during the 1950s but both the school and the Old Issonians Association were opposed to the idea. In 1956, Charles Thompson (Headmaster of Itchen Grammar School 1950-1971) wrote: “The school’s greatest source of strength is to be found in the fact that it is coeducational. From the earliest days of the secondary school, when coeducation was far less common than it is now, social activities involving both boys and girls were a readily accepted feature of the school.”
Itchen Grammar School thrived under Charles Thompson’s twenty-one years of leadership and some of the reforms he implemented at the school were: banning the use of the cane; abolishing single-sex staff rooms; building the school swimming pool and observatory; and replacing the ‘temporary’ huts. The swimming pool was built using money raised during the 1956 Jubilee Celebrations and was the first school swimming pool in Southampton. With the huts demolished, long-awaited science laboratories were built in 1964, improving teaching as well as student satisfaction. These reforms and extensions brought Itchen Grammar School up to then-current standards.
The largest extension – designed by architects Messr Richard Sheppard, Robson and Partners of London - saw all classrooms moved to the first and second floors, with the open-plan student areas on the ground floor, opening up to the playing fields. New facilities within the extension included: science laboratories; needlework and housecraft rooms; and geography classrooms with a terrace that linked them to the observatory on the roof.
Itchen Sixth Form College
In 1966 there was debate in the Southampton Education Committee about turning to a comprehensive education system. The Committee favoured the introduction of Sixth Form Colleges and three were selected as initial options for Southampton: Richard Taunton’s Grammar School; the Girl’s Grammar School; and Itchen Grammar School, the latter being the only coeducational Sixth Form College in Southampton.
Charles Thompson retired in 1971 and Philip Vennis took over as Principal of the new Itchen Sixth Form College until his retirement in 1988. He was a strong advocate for not necessarily needing entry requirements, stating: “the position is that pupils can transfer from neighbourhood comprehensives without any formal requirements, the only condition being that the student himself wishes to pursue full time education beyond sixteen and is prepared to apply himself; what matters is the degree of motivation on the part of the students; this is of the greatest importance for future success, and more so than any measure of intelligence or academic attainment, whether eleven plus or sixteen plus.”
This ideology forms part of the present-day mission at Itchen Sixth Form College, providing inclusive further education for all.
The college remains Itchen Sixth Form College.
Old Issonians Association
In 1920, Itchen Pupil Teacher's Centre headmaster Mr Hemmings started up the 'Old Students Association'. It was formed for alumni to keep in touch with the centre and was ideally supposed to allow them to continue to participate with the centre.
It wasn't until after World War II that the 'Old Students Association' became active. Renamed the 'Old Issonians Association' by Principal Cotemann after the evacuation ended, the name was taken from the school's then current initials ('I.S.S. - Itchen Secondary School).
The Association became active with sporting (in particular football and hockey), dramatic, and social activities for past pupils. In 1939 the association had had over a hundred members and this reached over 300 post-1945. The number continued to soar and in 1956, during the Jubilee celebrations, membership reached 600.
As of 2005, the Old Issonians Association website only lists 5 members and states that the Association "is likely to be winding up due to lack of interest." With the website not having been updated since 2005, it is assumed that the Old Issonians Association is no longer running.
Current life and studies
Students who attend Itchen Sixth Form College are mainly from areas of Southampton, east of the River Itchen and along the M27 corridor towards Fareham. The college’s extensive bus service, and close proximity to Sholing Railway Station (with links to Southampton Central and Portsmouth & Southsea Railway Stations), means that students have access to the college from all over Hampshire.
Itchen Sixth Form College has a growing intake of International students, with these students making up 10% of the total student body. These students come from all over the world, in particular from Asia and Europe.
Full-time students study a wide range of courses including vocational, GCSEs, BTECs, and A Levels. A large number of subjects are supported by the college’s Academy of Sport, High Performance Academy (for gifted and talented students), and the recently launched Creative Arts Academy, which offers specialised training and extra opportunities for students to further their skills through extra-curricular classes and trips. The college also offers a range of Adult Education courses.
In 2015 students at Itchen Sixth Form College achieved a 100% pass rate in 26 subjects at Level 3.
Academy of Sport
The sports courses that Itchen College offers are supported by the college's Academy of Sport. The Academy provides students with the opportunity to pursue sports alongside their studies by offering specialist coaching. It allows students to study further qualifications in sport, such as Fitness Instructor awards, and helps students secure higher education places in top sporting institutions around the world, particularly in the United States.
The Academy currently offers expert coaching in:
- Football (including a football development programme run by the Chelsea Football Club Foundation).
In September 2016, the college will launch its brand new Athletics Academy.
Creative Arts Academy
Newly launched in 2015, the Creative Arts Academy provides students on creative courses with extra support and opportunities to enhance their skills. Unlike the Academy of Sport, which is open to all students, this Academy is exclusive to those students on creative courses.
Students who are part of this Academy have access to work placements in the Creative Industries, frequent trips to both national and international destinations (for example, New York City), and help putting together a creative portfolio ready for when they enter the workplace.
Students also have access to the college's new £1.5 million Performing Arts building which contains state-of-the-art industry-standard creative facilities.
Courses included within the Creative Arts Academy are:
High Performance Academy
The High Performance Academy is for students who have been identified as gifted and talented by their previous school. It provides tailored support for students wanting to achieve the highest grades in their A Levels.
To be eligible, students need to have an average GCSE score of 6.5. They can also be referred to the Academy by their teachers when they reach Itchen College.
The five elements to the High Performance Academy are:
- A taught programme
- Learning mentors
- Higher Education+ programme
- Extra-curricular activities
- Extended project qualification (EPQ)
Students in the High Performance Academy have gone on to secure places at universities all over the world, including Oxbridge.
Itchen Sixth Form College attracts students from all over the globe. 10% of the college's student body is made up of international students.
Countries students come to Itchen College from are:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- and many other countries from across Europe.
There are a range of courses for international students to study, including English as a Foreign Language, and these students stay with local Southampton families, known as Homestays, while living in the U.K.
Despite being primarily for 16-19-year-old school leavers, Itchen Sixth Form College offers adult education classes for students over 19. These include: Access to Higher Education; teacher training courses; English, Maths, and Science courses; Accountancy qualifications; and Childcare, Health and Social Care courses.
The radio station is run by a team of 15 students, with the group changing every academic year, on media and journalism courses and has been broadcasting for ten years. Its unofficial mascot is a black horse.
On air at least three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday), regular shows include: Half Time Oranges (sports news); international music; interviews with members of staff, politicians, and local celebrities (e.g. Matt Le Tissier); and discussions about current affairs.
Clubs and Societies
Current clubs include:
Published every academic term, the Itchen College News (ICoN) magazine features articles about the achievements and successes of Itchen College's students, as well as news about what is coming up for Itchen over the following months.
Itchen and the local community
The college facilities are available for the community to hire for their own use and this includes: the sports centre; nursery; concert hall; conference suite; and the sports field.
Some of the courses provided at Itchen Sixth Form College work in partnership with local businesses and organisations in order to provide students with valuable work experience. This is particularly evident in the Uniformed Public Services course, where students work regularly with the local Emergency and Military services.
Zany Zebras 2016
Itchen College took part in the 2016 Zany Zebras competition run by Marwell Zoo. It saw life-size Grévy's zebras painted by artists appear around Southampton before they were auctioned off to raise money for Grévy's zebra and wildlife conservation projects. Itchen College's Essential Skills students painted their zebra, which was featured in the Marlands Shopping Centre as part of the art trail in the city between July-September 2016. Itchen's zebra, Abracazebra, has since returned to the college.
Notable former students
Itchen Secondary School
- Melita Norwood, Communist spy
Itchen Grammar School
Itchen Sixth Form College
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