Trisha Shetty (Editor)

St John's College, Portsmouth

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Established  1908
Headteacher  Mr Tim Bayley BSc, MA
Phone  +44 23 9281 5118
Number of students  620
Religion  Christianity
Chairman of Governors  Mr Tim Forer BA (Hons)
Founded  1908
Gender  Mixed-sex education
St John's College, Portsmouth
Type  Independent day and boarding
Location  Grove Road South Southsea, Portsmouth Hampshire PO5 3QW England
Address  Grove Rd S, Portsmouth, Southsea PO5 3QW, UK
Motto  Per Laborem Ad Honorem; (Through work to honour)
Affiliations  Society of Heads, Independent Association of Prep Schools, Lasallian educational institutions
Similar  The Portsmouth Grammar, Mayville High School, Portsmouth High School (G, Highbury College, South Downs College

St John's College, sometimes referred to simply as St John's or SJC, is an independent day and boarding school located in Southsea, Hampshire, England. It was founded by the De La Salle Brothers in 1908 and it continues to retain their Christian values. St John's is a through-school for pupils between the ages of 2 and 18. The Headmaster of St John's College is Mr Tim Bayley.


The College has several notable alumni, known as Old Johannians or OJs.


St John's College was founded in Southsea, Portsmouth in 1908 by the De La Salle Brothers as an independent boys' school. The founding headmaster was Brother Firme of Quiévy, France. The Catholic De La Salle Brothers supported the ethos and ideals of Saint John Baptist De La Salle, the patron saint of teachers, and the Founder of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

St. John's moved to its current site in 1912. On 28 May 1912 Edmond Brunher, Superior General of the Order, countersigned the conveyance of Grove House (known today as the Castle) and Warleigh House. The College subsequently purchased other properties in its vicinity, settling the entire urban campus. There has been a School Chapel on the site since 1913. St John's Gazette was founded in 1915.

During World War One 119 pupils and staff joined the Armed Forces to defend their country. Twelve did not return. Between 1928 and 1929 the WW1 memorial and St John Baptist De La Salle statue were both unveiled in the College grounds.

An application to the College of Arms for the school crest was granted in the early 1930s. The five pointed star represents the Lasallian Order, the position of St John's by the sea is affirmed by the six waves.

Portsmouth was subjected to many enemy air-raids in World War Two and the College suffered extensive damage. During the war years the College established a sister school in Hassocks, Sussex, where boarders were evacuated away from the bombing in Southsea. Some 53 Johannians lost their lives in the service of their country, including 1940-41 School Captain and Captain of Cricket, Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald. The Roll of Honour of 1914-1918 had a much lengthier list added to it, and a further memorial board to the Old Johannians who lost their lives is now maintained by the school. Every Remembrance Day the names on the memorial are read out by the staff and pupils.

Shortly after the war the College began to rebuild itself, and in 1945 St John's College Sixth Form was founded. The school became a Catholic direct grant grammar school under the Education Act 1944 for many years while maintaining its independent status as a member of the Association of Governing Bodies of Public Schools. The site continued to advance from 1958 to 1968 with the opening of the Jubilee block on the College's 50th anniversary. A parent-teacher association was formed in 1962.

Following a trend set by many independent boys' schools, girls were admitted into the sixth form in 1971. The College did not became fully coeducational until 1996. In 2008 St John's celebrated its Centenary.

On 1 September 2015 the College attained full Independent Charitable Status and decoupled itself from the De la Salle Trust.


St John's is split into four sections: a Junior School (with Little St John's Nursery) for children aged between 2 and 11; a Senior School for pupils aged 11 to 16; a Sixth Form College for students studying for their A-Levels; and a Boarding School for students aged 9 to 18 from the UK and overseas.

St John's structures its years into a House system. In the Senior School there are four houses: Leo, Edwin, Alan and Damian all named after notable Brothers who have served as Headmaster over the years. In the Junior School they have different names for the houses including: Castle, Woodleigh, St Anne's and School. The College organises inter-house activities such as house 5-a-side matches, house music and house drama. Points are tallied and at the end of each academic year a trophy is awarded to the house with the highest score. A similar system exists on the academic side with the Warren Trophy. Conduct card points can also be gained for good behaviour, uniform and manners. An annual speech night and prize giving ceremony takes place each summer. A Founders Day service is held each November at St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth.

St John's College and its head-teachers are members of the Independent Schools Council, the Boarding Schools' Association, the Independent Association of Preparatory Schools and the The Society of Heads. Following its November 2014 inspection by the Independent Schools Inspectorate, Little St John's provision in Early Years was judged to be Outstanding in all areas.

Co-curricular activities

Both the Junior and Senior Schools offer extra-curricular activities and after-school clubs. These include: a string ensemble and wind band; Girls' Choir; Drama Club; Science Club; Design and Tech Club; Archive Club; and Art Club; together with Scrabble and Chess Clubs. Some of these clubs can date their history at the College back to the 1920s and 1930s.

Foreign exchange trips take place with schools in Paris and Spain, and each year the College organises a ski-trip for students.

St. John's is also an active participant in the inter-schools Rock Challenge, for which in 2015 it won 6 awards. The College also has a Duke of Edinburgh Award programme, organising an annual expedition for participating students.

The Politics Society

The Politics Society at St. John's was founded in 1977. The founder, Mr Bernard Black (1934–2013), was Head of Political Studies from 1977 to 1999. Speakers have included Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson (former prime minister and previous President of the Society), Tony Benn, Enoch Powell, Rowan Williams – former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Douglas Hurd (current President of the Society), Nigel Farage MEP, former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, former Green Party leader – Caroline Lucas MP, Theresa May MP – Home Secretary and subsequently the UK's second woman prime minister; Lord Judge former Lord Chief Justice; the former Director of Liberty, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti CBE; and the United States Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Matthew Barzun. Meetings are coordinated by Dr Graham Goodlad, Head of Government and Politics at St John’s College.

The Chapel Choir

The St John's College choir can date its roots back to the 1940s when the choir was said to be 50 strong and performed in local churches and Hampshire music festivals, under first the musical direction of Mr John Deegan until 1948 and then Mrs Helen Dyer, who remained choir mistress for the next 25 years. By the 1950s it had attracted national recognition and had performed both at the Weslyan Central Hall and also the BBC's Lime Grove studios.

St John's traditional robed Chapel Choir was reformed in September 2009. Provision is made for 24 choristers for boys aged between 8 and 14 years old. The Choristers are led by a Head and Deputy Head Chorister and six Senior Choristers. In addition there are 18 Choral Scholars aged 15–18 who sing the alto, tenor and bass parts. The choir has been on a number of international tours, including to France, Italy (singing in front of the Pope), Austria, Holland, and Belgium. They have sung on the BBC's Songs of Praise, in Westminster Abbey, at the Queen's Chapel and the Royal Albert Hall. Since 2010 they have released 5 CD's and entered the national Choir of the Year competition.


Sporting endeavour has been a feature of life at St John's since its foundation. There has been an annual sports day at St John's College since 1918. For a comparatively small school it has produced a number of notable alumni (see Notable former pupils, below).

Over its history the College has promoted a wide range of sporting opportunities for its students. The diversity of its success has included: 1913 Portsmouth Times Rifle Cup and Holbrook Rifle Cup champions; Hampshire Six-a-Side football finalists 1926, 1974, champions 1938, 1947, 1951, 1954, 1964; senior doubles tennis champions, Wimbledon Park Tournament 1951; Southsea Regatta Schools Invitational Rowing Champions 1951, 1952, 1956, 1959; Inter-Schools Cup rowing champions - 14 consecutive years 1953-1967; Box Clement Shield for Swimming 1955, 1956; Portsmouth City Championship for swimming 1956; Serpentine Rowing Champions 1961; Hampshire Rugby Sevens Champions 1965; Public Schools Football Plate winners 1967; British Orienteering Championships winners 1972; under 14 and under 15 Portsmouth Football League Champions, 1976. In more modern times, the school had a clean-sweep as champions of the under 13, under 14, under 15 and under 16 age-groups of the South East Hampshire Netball League in 2014. This was the fourth consecutive season SJC had won the under 15 league. Later that year, girls netball saw further success against the national Malta schools team while on tour. 2014 was also the year that the under 18's lifted the Hampshire Rugby plate. More recent sporting success is set out in the table below.

St John's College has a long-standing rivalry on the sports pitch with Portsmouth Grammar School.

Sporting success

St John's College has enjoyed some notable sporting successes in recent years, including:

Sports facilities

Within the College grounds there is a multi-purpose hall for badminton, basketball, volleyball and cricket nets, together with a squash court, fitness suite and a climbing wall. Outside there is an all-weather astro-turf pitch.

The school also owns some 40 acres of sports grounds at Farlington (known as "Fields"), which include netball and tennis courts, cricket, football and rugby pitches, as well as a pavilion. The school sometimes uses the HMS Temeraire grounds, and sports facilities offered by the University of Portsmouth. Each school term focuses on a different sport. The boys compete in rugby union, rugby sevens, field hockey and cricket, whilst the girls play field hockey, netball and rounders.

Co-curricular sports clubs include badminton, basketball, climbing, dance, squash, swimming, sailing and skiing.

SJC operates an Athlete Development Group for advanced pupils.


St John's ex-students formed the Old Johannians in 1919, first as an Old Boys' Club, then in 1925 as the Old Johannian Association.

In 1927 St. John's Gazette published St John's first school song, which later provided a resonance at Old Johannian Annual Dinners:

The School! The School! The School! And all who love its story! The School! The School! The School! Its name – its fame – its glory! O'er land and sea, Right royally, We'll bear its golden rule – And now with me give – THREE TIMES THREE! The School! The School! The School!

After World War 2, on 12 January 1946, the Association held a Victory Reunion Dinner, attended by some 100 Old Johannians, the majority still in uniform.

Sir Alec Rose accepted honorary membership of the Old Johannian Association before his single-handed circumnavigation of the globe in 1967-8 and attended the OJ golden jubilee dinner and dance upon his return.

The Association continues to run several gatherings each year, notably the AGM and Dinner held on the first Saturday after Easter, and a golf tournament.

St John's Online

The College operates a Facebook page for parents and visitors and a page for alumni. For current parents there is also a Twitter feed and a Sports Twitter account, as well as an Archive-specific Twitter feed.

Arts and media

  • BBC newsreader George Alagiah
  • Alastair Appleton, TV presenter
  • Tomasz Schafernaker, BBC weather presenter
  • Alfie Allen, actor, including Game of Thrones; brother of Lily Allen; son of Keith Allen and Alison Owen
  • Guy Mankowski, author
  • Anthony Minghella, CBE, film director (1954-2008). Oscar winner: The English Patient, Oscar nominee: The Talented Mr Ripley, The Reader (2008 film)
  • Duncan Kennedy, BBC News reporter and presenter
  • Sean Coughlan, award-winning BBC News education correspondent, twice winner of top prize at the Education Journalism Awards.
  • Guillaume Gallienne, actor, screenwriter and film director. Winner of two Molière Awards and two César Awards (2014). Chevalier of the Ordre National du Mérite (2008)
  • Garrick Palmer English painter and wood engraver
  • Christopher Logue, CBE, English poet [d.2011]
  • Mike Hugg founding member of the 1960s group Manfred Mann
  • Colin Purbrook, internationally renowned jazz pianist, 'the Grand Vizier of parties', OJ 1948 - 1954 [d.1999]
  • Barry Perowne novelist, best known for continuing the A. J. Raffles series, OJ 1916, (d. 1990)
  • Professions

  • The Rt Hon Sir Ian Burnett (Lord Justice Burnett), School Captain 1975-6, called to the Bar in 1980, appointed to the High Court in 2008 and promoted to the Court of Appeal in 2014
  • His Honour Judge Charles Gratwicke, honorary recorder of Chelmsford 2013
  • Kevin Fitzgerald CMG, MA (Oxon) Head Boy 1978, honoured for ‘services to British economic interests’ in the Queen’s Birthday 2013 Honours List. Chief Executive of the Copyright Licensing Agency
  • Hedley Greentree, British Architect. OJ 1949-1955. Designer of iconic Portsmouth landmarks, including the Spinnaker Tower, Gunwharf Quays re-development and the Sails of the South (d.2017)
  • David Basson QPM, awarded Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service 2000. Former Hampshire Chief Superintendent
  • Michael Hosking British educated entrepreneur and Far East concert promoter
  • Gerald Gregory-Jones, former CEO at British Universities Sports Association, OJ 1954 – 1963, Rowing (School Colours), Rugby (House Colours), Chairman Debating Society
  • Eric Taplin, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth 1975, OJ 1914-1920, Freeman of the City of London
  • A. Hugh Olson Sheriff of the City of London 1974
  • Sean Hughes (politician) former MP, a British history teacher and Labour politician (d. 1990)
  • Norman Cole (politician), RN, MP, entered Parliament in 1951 as Liberal and Conservative member for the South Division of Bedfordshire (d.1979)
  • Dr Desmond Mulvany KStG; KM, FRCS, British physician, Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory; Knight of Malta.
  • Dr James "Tommy" Oliver, research scientist, ichthyologist, Hydrologist to the Royal Zoological Society, Chairman, Old Johannians, 1927, Founder of the JH Oliver Prize for Science (d. 1962)
  • Tom McDonald OBE, First Johannian to be admitted to the Order of the British Empire (OJ 1911), former Diplomatic Corps career: British Embassy, Nanking, China.
  • Sport

  • Jarod Leat, England Under-18 rugby player, 5 Nations international 2016, London Wasps and u/18 flanker
  • Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, football player for Arsenal F.C. and England. Third youngest player to represent England in a major tournament. Brother of:
  • Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain, midfield footballer for Portsmouth F.C.
  • Lawrence Prittipaul, former Hampshire county cricketer and holder of the highest SJC 20-over batting total
  • Darryl Powell former Premier League footballer, played international football for Jamaica, World Cup France 98, MD sports management company
  • Tom Lovesey, Mirror (dinghy) Junior World Champion 2005, youngest helm to represent Team GBR in Mirror World Championships 2006 (with James Lovesey, OJ)
  • Steve Foster, football player for Portsmouth F.C., Aston Villa F.C., and England.
  • Ron Newman (footballer) former association football player and coach. Member of the US National Soccer Hall of Fame
  • David Pyle, Observer Single-handed Trans-Atlantic Race 1968; yachtsman who sailed a Drascombe on the longest journey undertaken in a small open sailing boat; author Australia the Hard Way
  • Ian and Bill Tremlett, World Champions, 1968 Tornado World Championships (William Tremlett, School Captain 1962-3)
  • Keith Paul, 505 (dinghy) World Champion, 1962
  • Mike Tremlett, America's Cup yachtsman, 1958
  • John Rickard, Captain of English School Boys Cricket XI, Captain of Hampshire Schools Cricket XI; School Captain 1955
  • Richard Utley OBE, former Hampshire cricketer who made his first-class debut in 1927
  • Academia

  • Professor Timothy C. Lethbridge, Professor of Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Ottawa.
  • Professor William Swadling, MA (Oxon), LLM (Lond), Senior Law Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford University and Reader in the Law of Property.
  • Dr. Andy Herries, Associate Professor of Palaeoanthropology La Trobe University, Australian Research Council Future Fellow in the Geochronology of Human Origins in Africa
  • Dr Dominic Fontana, senior lecturer in human geography at the University of Portsmouth
  • Dr.Philip Crispin BA (Oxon); MA (Sussex); DEA (Nouvelle Sorbonne); PhD (London), Lecturer, University of Hull School of Drama, Music and Screen
  • Rev. Dr. Paul Haffner, OJ 1962-73, MA (Oxon), Adjunct Professor Duquesne University and Seton Hall University, Invited Professor Pontifical Gregorian University
  • Professor Brian Burley B.Sc. (London), M.Sc. (British Columbia), Ph.D. (McGill) former Professor of Mineralogy McMaster University Ontario
  • Forces

  • Former Black Rod, Lieutenant General Sir Michael Willcocks. Chief of Staff for the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps, Chief of Staff for the Land Component of the Peace Implementation Force. UK military representative to NATO and the European Union from 2000 - 2001.
  • Brigadier Anthony Cleland Welch, OBE, UK-based former soldier, UN official, politician and academic, Deputy Chief of Staff of the 3rd (UK) Armoured Division, Deputy Chief of Staff (Land) during the first Gulf War
  • Brigadier Sir Louis Hargroves CBE, DL, first Commanding Officer and Colonel of The Staffordshire Regiment, commander of the British garrison in Aden 1964-66, Deputy Lieutenant of Staffordshire, political fundraiser for Margaret Thatcher's government. (d.2008).
  • Col. Sir Ronald Gardner-Thorpe, GBE TD JP (1917 –1991), Lord Mayor of London 1980, Aide-de-Camp to King Frederick of Denmark, was a British company director, Liberal Party politician. Chairman, Old Johannians, 1961, Founder of the Gardner-Thorpe Prize for French
  • Commander Rodney Flynn, RN, former sub treasurer of the Inner Temple, 1978
  • Lt Commander Monty Carss, DSC, RN
  • Group Captain Hugh 'Peggy' O'Neill, DFC (with a rare Second Award Bar), Atlantic Star Medal, Africa Star Medal, RAF. Brother of:
  • Group Captain Tony O'Neill, DFC, RAF, first British air attaché to the state of Israel (d.2008)
  • Lt Colonel Dr Harry Mulvany RAMC, medical officer in charge of RMS Queen Mary during her service as a troopship in the North Atlantic.
  • Colonel Jean E. François Demozay, DSO, Commandeur de la legion d'honneur, compagnon de la liberation (1915-1945), OJ -1931
  • Colonel Raymond Powell, OBE, MC, Old Johannian vice-chairman, d.2000
  • Lieutenant (A) J Pratt, MBE, RN, La Croix de Guerre
  • Colonel Steve Wood, Director of Military Intelligence, India 1947
  • Brigadier Denis O'Flaherty CBE, DSO, Bronze Cross (USA), High Commission Canada (OJ 1933-1939) d.1980
  • Captain Francis Downer DSC, RD, RN, HMS Monserrat
  • Lieutenant-Colonel Paddy Doyle MC
  • Commander J Golby, OBE, RN
  • Squadron-Leader T E Cooke, DFC, Air Force Cross, DFM
  • Squadron-Leader D H Beckett, OBE, RAF
  • Lt Colonel Donald Campling, RA, Member of the British Military Mission, Paris
  • Lt Colonel J Colquhoun, MBE
  • Major-General William Ritchie, CB, CBE, Legion of Merit (US), Chairman, Old Johannians, 1922 and 1930
  • For more information on St John's College Alumni, please see: [1]

    Notable SJC associates

  • Neil Hamilton (politician) between 1973 and 1976 a teacher at St John's College. Alleged 'cash for questions' MP, barrister, member of the Welsh Assembly and Deputy Chairman of the UK Independence Party (UKIP)
  • Dr Val Fontana, OJ, RAF, teacher of biology and Head of Science at SJC 1958-1985. Founder of the DNA Double Helix Prize for Science
  • Brother Laurence Hughes FSC, former teacher at St John's College. Provincial of the Lasallian District of Ireland, Great Britain and Malta (2015).
  • Sir Denis Daly, former Governor of SJC, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth 1939-43, 1950, Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour; and Lady Margaret Daly, lord mayor and lady mayoress of Portsmouth during the Second World War. Parents of Denis Daly, OJ and Patrick Daly, OJ
  • Fred Currey, OJ, RAF, Chairman Old Johannian Association 1960, Alderman of the City of Portsmouth, pioneer of civil flying in Portsmouth
  • Clare W Jolliffe, OJ, accountant, Chairman Old Johannian Association 1934, 1952, 1964, former Governor of St. Johns
  • Lieutenant Douglas Fairbanks Jr visited and funded a balloon service hospital set up in SJC's Woodlands boarding house during WWII
  • Major Eddie C Dyas, OJ, A.S.A.A, Chairman Old Johannian Association 1939, 1954. Founder of the EC Dyas Memorial Prize for History, the EC Dyas Prize for History, the EC Dyas Middle School Award for History
  • Michael Magan, OJ, Chairman Old Johannian Association 1919, 1925, 1933, 1958. Author, 'Cradled in History: St. John's College, Southsea 1908-1976'
  • Colonel Sir Arthur Holbrook, KBE, MP for Basingstoke, Head of Holbrook and Son Ltd, printers of St. John's Gazette for over 50 years and owner of Warleigh House before its sale to SJC in 1911
  • In film

  • The Swallows and Amazons (2016 film) re-adaptation, starring Rafe Spall, with leading roles played by Dane Hughes OJ as John Walker and Seren Hawkes OJ as Nancy Blackett.
  • The award-winning French coming of age film Me, Myself and Mum by OJ Guillaume Gallienne featured in its publicity a variant of the College crest and uniform.
  • Headmasters of St John's College

    Notable headmasters and former Brother-Directors of St John's College include:

  • Mr Graham Best BA, reforming headmaster and College Principal, 2010-2016
  • Brother Damian FSC, BA, 1969-1976
  • Brother Edwin, 1957-1963
  • Brother Alan Maurice, 1951-1957
  • Brother Leo Barrington MBE, 1944-1947
  • Brother Simon 1918-1935, longest serving headmaster
  • Brother Christantian 1914-1918, Headmaster during the Great War
  • Brother Firme of Quievy, 1908-1914, Founding headmaster
  • References

    St John's College, Portsmouth Wikipedia