Friday, 13 July 2018

Summer: Time to Escape Reality

We hope that, over the holiday, you enjoy the new 'Dreams and Reality' issue of Portsmouth Point magazine, published today.

The editors wish all of our readers a relaxing summer, dreaming in the sunshine and taking the opportunity to escape reality for a while.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Why Learning Through Play is an Important Aspect of Childhood

by Eleanor Barber

Play is a major part of childhood, every child plays. Play is an important part of our development and learning. It helps set milestones for children to achieve. Many children go to organised activities, like playgroups and nurseries, or do more physical organised activities like dance and swimming. These not only introduce formal play but prepare children for more formal school life.

Children are able to learn through experiencing the world around them as well as watching those around them. It is intrinsic to a child’s development and will affect them well into adulthood, due to the way the brain can change during the early years of life. When deprived of play children will suffer in the present as well as in the long term.

Play increases brain development and growth, as creates new neural connections and improves the ability to perceive other peoples emotional state. Play theorist Brian Sutton-Smith believes that children are born with huge neuronal over-capacity, which if not used will die. This could suggest that learning during early childhood is essential to allow further learning into the adult life. He suggests that play is teaching children how to relate to others, how to uses their muscles and how to think in abstract terms, amongst many other things. While play does not teach specific information, it teaches children how to solve future problems. of. lack of play that is were the real problem lies.

While there are many advantages to play, it is the disadvantages of lack of play that the real problem lies. This is because that without play has few opportunities to explore their surroundings, so will fail to make links between neutrons, making learning in the future harder for children without play than children with play.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

PGS Chamber Choir Meets the Tallis Scholars

by Dorothy Whyte-Venables

On Friday 22nd June, the Portsmouth Grammar School Chamber Choir were invited to sing in concert with the Tallis Scholars. This concert was part of the 2018 Portsmouth Festivities. The award winning choir were founded in 1973 by their director, Peter Phillips; they consist of 10 mixed voices and have established themselves as the leading exponents of Renaissance sacred music throughout the world. Their repertoire ranges from canticles by composers such as Gibbons, Britten and Pärt to Masses such as the Mass for Four voices by Byrd to glorious anthems such as Song for Athene by Tavener and Hymn to the Virgin by Britten.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Encouraging a Passion for Languages

by Lewis Wells

Students are dropping languages in their thousands. Here’s what needs to change.
I’ve always had a passion for languages, whether that stems from my participation in French classes in my junior academy and winning little prizes, or my interest in gaining an advantage over others and finding my niche in beginning German through secondary school, the overall concept of language-learning and cultural enrichment is what drives me academically. As mathematics, science and humanities does for pupils more adequately suited to their learning and driven by their results within. 

That does however not go to say that the absence of linguistic flair or “being a natural” makes you unable to learn, enjoy or solidify language learning. I’ve witnessed through 5 years of being within a state secondary school with albeit an enthusiastic and resourceful department, uninterested, bored and distraught pupils, relishing the day when they can finally throw that language away. I don’t think that the fault lies with teaching or pupils. Sure, the cogs all work in sync, but the general direction of such a trend originates from the examboards themselves. I don’t think the examboards have created exams in which more linguistically driven pupils excel or are rewarded; I think they are poorly crafted, monotonous exams that reward a variety of random skills that detract from the overall concept and reward of language learning — memory, pace of information absorption, excessive and untapped grammar, the list goes on.

“I don’t think that the fault lies with teaching or pupils”
 No, I don’t encourage the exam board to dispel all these skills, rather that they should programme a set of exams that is equally enjoyable as it is challenging. As a population we are moving away from facilitating subjects either towards a firm mathematical and science-based field, or the world of newly-originating subjects and their world-of-work revolving creation. The GCSEs freshly mobilised by the former Secretary for Education I have no experience with, save for the understanding that one is expected to write instantaneously in their exams for a passage, and answer in their target language more often. Ideas most sensical given the nature of what one would be expected to do within higher education for languages. But wait, no one really is progressing to these higher educational opportunities anymore, so why are we teasing pupils at younger ages, with the expectation that they will revolt the trend and suddenly discover fascination for the field once again? 

“They should programme a set of exams that is equally enjoyable as it is challenging”
No. We need to be in one way bribing our pupils at young ages with the endless possibilities to language learn. One example, that we learn as we do with our own. There is no shred of content within our current primary courses that places focus on listening to the Radio, watching television, reading the news or simply discovering art and culture of the target language nations. Why don’t we ask our pupils to make posters, draw something, find out something our teachers may not know of, to highlight the scope of language learning and the cultural enrichment such a feat unlocks (that all counts towards something as well)? We need to remove the chains, per se, in enabling our pupils to tackle their challenging tasks without the structural limitations, word counts, time limits, that make language learning robotic and quite frankly, stressful. I want to see classes with every pupil working differently, uniquely, independently, with the confidence that their individual interest within languages is welcomed and applicable in at least a few purposeful tasks in their overall GCSE. 

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading this Summer: III

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Dr Richmond, Ms Hart and Mr Oliver reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Dr Richmond

This summer I will be re-reading Germaine Greer’s book The Female Eunuch. This was an international bestseller in 1970 and 1971 and it nearly sold out on its second printing run in 1971. The book is an important text in the feminist movement which argues that the traditional consumerist and nuclear family represses women sexually rendering them eunuchs. She goes on to say society has been shaped by masculine domination and women need to rise up and fight against the male species by starting a sexual revolution. For Greer, women should not burn their bras because “if you make bralessness a rule, you’re subjecting yourself to yet another repression”. I used to despise feminism and could not see a real problem and only read the book to join the criticism of it: but I have revised my view in light of the #metoo campaign (I am aware that Greer hates this movement as it brandishes women as victims yet again). Therefore, on my second reading of her book this summer I will read it with fresh insight and as a woman desiring equality and fairness.

Ms Hart

I am excited about summer reading this year.  My daughter, Lily (7), has discovered the joys of curling up with a book and has been taken under Dr Webb’s wing with her reading list. My son, Ivan (4), also delights in visits to our local library and loves to grab a book and perch himself in the library’s large model train. So, for me, summer looks to be one full of reading out loud, sharing delightful picture books and sitting in the sun to read my own selection whilst the kids play in their new summer house.

I have already raided the Sixth Form collection but also have chosen to read a number of young adult novels, most notably this year’s Carnegie Medal winner Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean. Dr Webb has already got me hooked on it after sharing a dramatic extract! 

After Sophie Whitehead recommended Room by Emma Donoghue to me about three years ago, I have finally got round to taking it out and I am really excited about reading it.  I remember Sophie being completely animated when talking about it so I am hoping it will be a real page-turner. 

Monday, 9 July 2018

Overcoming Prejudice

by Claudia Bishop

What makes us human? We are all simply a combination of hair colour, eye shapes, family history, body shapes and billions of different variables put together to make us unique. Why then are we all judged separately? Surely we have limited control over how we look. I read a book earlier this year called Everyday By David Levithan. It is about a soul names A who Everyday takes on the form of someone new, always their age, never the same person twice. In the book A meets a girl called Rhiannon and falls in love.Not only does it follow a teen love story, it also tackles many issues around how we look and how therefore we are judged.

It is interesting as ‘A’ gives an insight of how human judgement changes with appearance. One day A is an attractive girl with a beyonce style body and attracts the attention of people around her. On another day A is an obese teen attracting looks of disgust from those around him. It is fascinating to speculate society from this angle and to obtain insights of judgement from a spirit who experiences all of them.

 It made me question many things. For one, Are we just the way we look? Does society focus too much on our appearance and does that change how we see the people under the skin?. Also, it left me with the question:

Should we really judge a book by it’s cover?

Judging people solely by appearance is extremely restrictive, reduces one's opportunities and produces limiting beliefs that can form the basis of prejudice. Many of us subscribe to the movie streaming website netflix, whilst scrolling through i realised that i was not choosing certain films due to how they were presented and not due to their overview. There are thousands of movies and TV programmes on netflix yet we are deterred from watching anything that doesn't have a high impact photo. This mirrors society, as appearances are of paramount importance. Think about how many people and films we miss because of our judgement.

Big Baby Trump: A Step Too Far?

by Alex Gibson

Perhaps somewhat ironically, Donald Trump arrives in Britain on Friday 13th and, naturally, there will be demonstrations and protests against his policies and dare I say, very existence. This is fine. This is what democracy and free speech (a topic hotly discussed on not only this blog but in society as a whole) should be about - scrutinising an official and letting it know that you disagree with them. However, my question here though is, are we overstepping the mark?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has permitted for a balloon depicting the US President as a baby to fly over Westminster on the opening day of his visit, with a statement on behalf of the mayor saying that he ‘supports the right to peaceful protest and understands that this can take many different forms.’ According to those leading this ‘movement’, over 10,000 people supported this concept, with, at the time of writing, just under £28,000 had been raised via ‘crowdfunding’ to help pay for the inflatable, this seems to be a popular idea.

Through social media and other channels, many have come out in favour of this form of protesting, saying that it is not only comical, but necessary to protest against Trump. Personally, I feel as though this is absolutely right as I am all for free speech and peaceful protest, how can one not be with the controversy of such a president? However, I can’t help but feel apprehensive about this for two reasons. Firstly, one must hope that this does not damage the UK’s global reputation or even relationship with the US - our major ally. This is especially due to the climate post-Brexit where trade deals with those such as the US are vital and I would hate to see this seemingly harmless protest backfire with financial repercussions - you can’t rule anything out with Donald Trump! In addition to this, I cannot help but imagine if the shoe was on the other foot. For example, say the Queen visited America and was publicly ridiculed and mocked, would we, as Britons, not feel offended by such an act, however innocent it may seem? Now you may not value a ‘connection’ with another nation such as the USA, but for me, I would not want to risk that.

'Sing for Uganda': Fighting Malaria

by Thomas Locke

It was a night of entertainment and song, a celebration of international links between PGS and Kikaaya College School, Uganda. To raise money for Kikaaya, our Partners in Learning, Miss Nicholson put on the Sing for Uganda event at St George’s Church in Portsmouth. 

Both students of PGS and members of The Portsmouth Gospel Choir sang, creating a warm and joyous atmosphere. The event was a great success, raising over £700 for Kikaaya College School. I had the opportunity to speak with Miss Nicholson and Ingrid, a Gospel singer, about the evening and about where the money will be spent. This interview was shared on ‘Five Minutes’, a podcast series I manage as part of my work with Fight Malaria.

The interview can be accessed here: - or read below the break:

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading this Summer: II

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Mrs Bell, Mrs Burkinshaw and Mrs Kirby reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Mrs Bell

I really enjoyed reading Reservoir 13 in the Library bookclub, so I have ordered some more books by Jon McGregor: If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things and So Many Ways to Begin: he is a really remarkable writer. 
For light relief, I shall be reading some of my late dad’s Dorothy L. Sayers: exquisitely written and humorous detective thrillers starring Lord Peter Wimsey. 
Non-fiction reading will include Mary Beard’s Women and Power and an interesting text called Mothers: An Essay on Love and Cruelty. Plenty to chew on there!

Mrs Burkinshaw

I love Caitlin Moran's writing, which is always engaging, lively and humorous. I am looking forward to reading her new novel, How to Be Famous. Set in the 1990s, at the height of 'Britpop', it is about a young woman trying to make her way in a pre-#MeToo, male-dominated world. 

I am also going to be reading This is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Junior Doctor by Adam Kay. The author is a former doctor, now turned comedian. I am fascinated by the world of medicine and, like many people, concerned about the stress that so many NHS staff are being placed under in this, the seventieth year of the NHS. Kay's book has been described as harrowing, hilarious and humane. 

What PGS Teachers Will Be Reading This Summer

The summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on some reading. 

Here, Dr Purves, Mr Richardson and Mr Lemieux reveal what books they are looking forward to this July and August. 

Dr Purves

I am planning on finishing reading The Explorer, and The Girl Savage, both by Katherine Rundell and both of which I have been reading to my daughter.  

I am also hoping to start/finish reading a number of the books I have had the very best intentions of reading during previous holidays, as well as one new purchase: Arnhem by Anthony Beevor.

Mr Richardson

As far as plans go, it’s more an interest in Muriel Spark: I plan to read as may as I can before September. Mandlebaum Gate and The Abbess of Crewe for sure, Memento Mori and Ballad of Peckham Rye probably, but definitely Complete Short Stories, if I can find, or Bang,Bang You’re Dead, which was a collection of short stories from the 1980s.

Possibly some Ian Rankin too: I found several on my shelves that I have no recollection of reading or indeed of ever seeing before.

And something else will crop up. Will browse through the library at school and see what catches my eye. 

Mr Lemieux

Sunday, 8 July 2018

A Brief Introduction to Nanotechnology

by Katie O'Flaherty

Until a year ago, I had never heard of the field of nanotechnology, but since stumbling across it in the form of nanoputians, the more I research, the more fascinating the field becomes. With over $5 billion invested in the field worldwide in 2012, and growing interest since then, many nations regard nanotechnology as one of the emerging fields which holds massive potential, whether it be in the field of electronics, medicine, energy storage, or a plethora of other fields.

Nanoputians are organic molecules whose structural formulae resemble human forms. First synthesised by James Tour et al. at Rice University (a research-centric university in the USA at the forefront of a lot of scientific research), most of these compounds consist of two benzene rings (a ring of 6 carbon atoms attached by alternating single and double bonds) connected with a few carbon atoms to make up the body, with numerous other functional groups to make up the rest of the body. These are used as a purely educational tool, primarily for attracting and educating children in the field of nanotechnology, as well as chemistry, physics, biology, and materials science.

NanoKid has been the star of numerous educational videos, including those on the periodic table, DNA, and covalent bonding (bonding in which one or more pairs of electrons are shared between atoms). NanoKid has also been used to synthesise the NanoProfessionals, using an acetal exchange reaction and microwave oven irradiation, to substitute the head of the NanoKid for many others to create NanoAthlete, NanoPilgrim, and NanoTexan, to name but a few of the growing family.

Nanomedicine is a rapidly growing facet to the field of nanotechnology, and although it faces a lot of cynicism, particularly due to fears of toxicity and its impact in the environment, its potential is immense. Already it is used in a number of applications, with nanomedicine sales reaching $16 billion in 2015, and thus far has not proved to encounter any of the suspected potential problems. One of the large fields being looked into for nanomedicine is targeted drug delivery, with a possibility of delivering specific drugs to specific cells, thus the overall drug consumption and side-effects may be lowered significantly if not entirely.

Poem for Sunday: An Ode to You and I

by Grace Acklam

"Be helpful when you see someone without a smile, give them yours"- Zig Ziglar

So much depends upon Me
My mental capacity
The lack of information that I can take
How little pressure I can survive
My mental ability
The lack of jokes that I make
How poorly I advise
My mental fragility
The number of times that I turn inwards and opaque
How easily tears rise.

So much depends upon You
Your personal tenacity
 The courageousness you undertake
How you refuse your demise
Your personal sagacity
The words you speak that are never fake
How little that you agonise
Your personal gentility
The way your resolution will never break
How every day you reach new highs.
So much depends upon
The insight that you bring,
Into my tedious daily life
To give my step a spring.
For if you were not known to me,
My life would be quite numb,
And, my dear, I would have no idea
On the person I now want to become.


Leonardo Poetry Competition 2018: Year 12 Finalists

On Wednesday, 11th July, the Leonardo Poetry Competition will take place in the Memorial Library at PGS. Here are the poems by the Year 12 finalists. 


Golden lapels weigh down the shoulders 
Unknowingly to the lion-like king, 

Metal badges bringing down his chest, 
Trying to keep them up. 

A wild face with tamed blue eyes, 
Hair desperately parted into control. 

The gold reflection of the pale moonlit skin looks yellow. 

Red-royal blood, taking the form of blue veins, 
Pulses sedately under the eye. 

An ebony shadow marches to attack 
A lone lost daughter making her way back.  

Joe Cummings, Y12   

King Lear 

Madness diluted into a silent eye 
A cathartic strain on a king’s heart’s mind 
What cold loss has hubris brought? 
A daughter? 
A kingdom? 
A soul? 

A King 

Broken against his own pride 
No longer of knowledge but of empty contrition 
A face dried by justice and hollowed by love. 
A daughter. 
A kingdom. 
A soul. 

A Father 

What untamed torment has removed his heart 
Hope a stilled pulse in the dead of earth 
To waxen heart and face, opalescent in its loss. 
A daughter 
A kingdom 
A soul 

A Man. 

Poppy Goad, Y12   

Leonardo Poetry Competition 2018: Year 10 Finalists

On Wednesday, 11th July, the Leonardo Poetry Competition will take place in the Memorial Library at PGS. Here are the poems by the Year 10 finalists. 

Clifftop Road 

The rain crashes down
As the luminous cars scream by
Beacons in the mist
Tyres scrabbling for purchase
As the water shimmers down the windscreen.
High above, a bird, invisible against the cliff face,
Clasps the rock on crooked feet.
Suddenly a great roar cries out
As a car skids on its over-ambition
Raking the flimsy metal barrier.
Both shriek as metal grinds on metal
And suddenly the struggle is over
The car is silent, falling.
The rain splinters down.

Leo Flint, 10W   

I Come From 

I come from a family with no siblings,
of seafaring captains and wild windy glens.
I come from a house that rings with the barking of a mischievous dog, 
from a neighbourhood that is never silent.
I come from cricket fields with bats and balls scattered to the boundaries.
I come from a father cooking moules and grinding spices,
and a radio that plays continuously.
I come from a bedroom bright with coloured cupboards, 
a garden of scurrying squirrels and falling leaves,
a trampoline that throws me up in the air like a rag doll,
the tree-house where I hide away with my friends.
I come from double bass and trombone practice in the hall,
homework scattered on the pine wood kitchen table,
a school where manners are appreciated.
I come from Christmas lunches sitting on boulders by waterfalls in faraway countries,
holidays off-piste skiing.
I come from rugby boots in the hall,
and cricket bags overflowing with pads.

Alexander Barker, 10W   

Leonardo Poetry Competition 2018: Year 9 Finalists

On Wednesday, 11th July, the Leonardo Poetry Competition will take place in the Memorial Library at PGS. Here are the poems by the Year 9 finalists. 

With Eyes That Scream 

With eyes that scream that dynamic shade of blue
And lips with that red-pink, and a distant smile
That tints every story with a giggle
And a secret little whisper
I want so desperately to be mine,
How do I not?

How do I not stumble after this
Paralysing theft of my breath?
How do I dampen this bubbling fury 
Of heat hastening through my blood
And the dizzying appeal that
Clouds and drowns my brain?
And how do I wrestle back
To that plot I traced out
So easily in juvenile oblivion
Before her?
And should I start asking why?
Why bother going so far off the script?
But, then again,
Why bother limping, gawking,
Back to it?

And I know that one day I’ll
Surrender to that face
And all the others,
And surrender to the world
That will shake its head
And throw its diatribes.

But not now.
Because now I’m busy
As I salvage my breath.

Lucy Albuery, 9T

New World, Completely My Own

I open a book and in I go,
No one can find me,
I don’t want to be found.

I’m in a new house, room and chair,
I’m in a new world,
Completely my own.

I’m immersed in the pages
Sharing feelings of shock, horror and delight,
I’ve found new people
New friends, new family.

I follow them along the road,
Over the bumps, around the bends,
Shared their laughter, their tears,
Comforted them but they can’t hear me.

In times of need
I refer back to the pages,
They take me home,
To place I know.

But all good things must come to an end,
So I close my book and come back out
To the same old house, room and chair,
Nothing has changed,
But I wish I was back there.

Ishbel Duncan, 9U  

Leonardo Poetry Competition 2018: Year 8 Finalists

On Wednesday, 11th July, the Leonardo Poetry Competition will take place in the Memorial Library at PGS. Here are the poems by the Year 8 finalists. 

I’m Fine…Right? 

She looks calm and happy, 
She looks wise and set for life. 
Her white, wavy, glossy hair, stained over time. 
Her eyes look bright and alert. 
She’s fine, right? 

Look closer… 
She looks calm and happy. 
I’m not…. 

I’m scared and alone, 
I jump at the desperate cries of the wind, 
I shiver at the menacing touch of the breeze, 
And I cry with the rain’s constant tears. 

She looks wise and set for life. I’m fine… 

Wisdom is… is knowledge, experience, 
Cruelty as well as the joys of the world. 
We don’t learn from history, we repeat it 
My life is behind me, 
Now I’m just waiting. 

Her white, wavy, glossy hair, stained by time. 
Time is ruthless, cruel, 
It’s slipping through my wrinkled fingers, 
Fading from my frayed mind. 
It takes a merciless grip. 

Time was stronger. 
Is stronger. 

Her eyes look bright and alert. 
I’m not… 

Eyes are tired and heavy, 
Eye-lids are drooping. 
I want to close my eyes, 
Just for a second… 

A lot can happen in a second. 
Darkness and uncertainly. 
All the noises, screams of the world,  
They’re closing in, but never close enough, 
Never close to see. 

I’m fine, right…? 

Demi Armstrong, 8


The shadows of a figure moving along the wall.
The quiet sound of tapping as the walking stick hits the floor.
The face of experience, old and crippled.
Scarred skin, wrinkled and afraid.
Years of seeing death and pain showed in his teary eyes.
The agony shown in the back of his pupils,
Like looking into water and seeing 
The reflection of the horrible life that had passed.
The sharp stare cutting deep into me like a dagger.
The soulless life walking towards me.
The shadow of a figure moving along the wall.
The quiet sound of tapping as the walking stick hits the floor.

Toby Foord, 8U 

His Eyes Are the Keys to Wisdom 

The wrinkles on his face were grand canyons
They ravelled his skin like dry earth after a drought.
The deep lines ran round his old face.
They were the lines on a map.

His eyes were dark and sincere,
The keys to wisdom and knowledge,
The piercing black holes in his face shot looks
Of discreet kindness as they focused on those around him.

His dry, cracked lips lacked moisture and life,
But curled up into a small smile when someone waved,
Then shrank back into a neutral, plain look. The skin on his neck moved like a wave
Every time he shook his head.

The old man’s face lacked emotion,
Plain and hidden amongst  the crowd.
When someone waved, his emotionless face lit up
Like a thousand candles.

Atalanta Nelson-Smith, 8V 

Leonardo Poetry Competition 2018: Year 7 Finalists

On Wednesday, 11th July, the Leonardo Poetry Competition will take place in the Memorial Library at PGS. Here are the poems by the Year 7 finalists. 

How Could I Be? 

How could I be so lost?
In a place I know won’t cost.
My life has disappeared,
I now live in a life that feared.
The sadness seeps in,
I have not anything to win.
When tears are streaming down,
I have nothing but a filthy town.

How could I be so weak?
Someone will come and seek.
Help me from this disaster,
And get me to go faster.
My child has left my hand,
I have not yet planned.
Starvation has come across me,
I decide that I must flee.

Ashnah Elenchcheliyan, 7U   


Fear is creeping in my bones and head,
Foodless in this part of the world, people drop dead.
We need a hero, a miracle to provide us with food.
The wind rips out the harvest; everyone is in a bad mood.

My children need hope, but all hope is lost;
There is some food but at a great cost.
Money is something that seems it’s like for kings.
I gain it by selling to buy food and a few belongings

We need something to hold on to but there isn’t enough.
The world is crumbling and living is tough.
Houses I’ve sold, deeds I’ve done, all to feed my family.
The rich use this period and they do it sneakily.

My mind is blank, out of ideas.
I am thinking of what is next: what is the future?
Surely there is something, someone to save us all?
Surely they cannot leave us, leave us to starve?

I am weak now, but life shall go on.
I shall not lose hope. I need to do more.

Andrei Toader, 7U   


You’re unique.
Just like everyone else.
Pick a personality from the shelf.
Go on, IDENTIFY yourself.

But you can also be Anonymous, be a lie, be a mystery.
Be synonymous with no name and no history,
Disappear from your life, disappear from the map,
DELETE yourself and enter this trap.

ERASE your doings and watch people who have done
ERASE your FACE and watch people who have one,
On huge databases of many FACES, organised in order,
Available to track and hack to collect and be a hoarder.

Knowledge is free.
Knowledge is OURS.
WE are many, as numerous as the stars.
WE do not forgive,
WE do not forget.
So, remember that 

Samuel  Lewis, 7Y   

Formula 1: The Hidden Secret of Speed

by Jamie Bradshaw

The Headmaster’s Tie

by John Sadden

As anticipation mounts with the arrival of the new Head next term, widespread speculation based on her clothes, in the style of tabloid newspapers, has reached fever pitch. In the spirit of equality, a retrospective analysis of the current Head’s neck ties, based on archive photographs, reveals that a wide range of colour and designs have appeared over the past decade or so.

The preferred knot style has been, invariably, the most common and simplest to achieve, the “schoolboy knot”. The Head has eschewed the far more prestigious Windsor knot, even when meeting and greeting royalty. Whether this is due to a lack of time or dexterity, or is a subtle democratic statement, is not known. 

Phone Addiction- What is the Solution?

by Alex Porter

In recent times the invention of the touch screen mobile phone has changed how the world communicates. The most famous and most widely used of all mobiles is the iPhone which was created by Apple in 2007. Although, the product today has its benefits, it also has its disadvantages. The main negative being that users can become addicted to it. This is mainly through notifications and prompts that appear on it throughout the day; this means the more that people use it, the more often they rely on it. For example, having to check every minute to see if they have received a text, or a response to their latest post on Instagram or how many views there have been on their last snapchat post. Now Apple themselves, have found a way to tackle this problem, which is becoming a world-wide problem.

In its annual developers conference last month, Apple announced new ‘do no disturb’ controls for its phones and tablets. This means users are able to prevent the phone from sending notifications. This is especially helpful in solving the concerns about it damaging mental health. These controls mean that during specific periods, like bedtime, the user can set to block arriving messages/notifications from appearing on the lock screen. Including this, the company will also group notifications by topics, so they are not so much of an eye-saw. This will then give the user a weekly breakdown of their usage, and allow  them to be able to set limits on time they and/or their children spend on certain apps media and games.

Final Interview with Mr Priory

As our Headmaster, Mr Priory, prepares to leave The Portsmouth Grammar School to take up his new role at Tonbridge School, archivist John Sadden asks him about his life and times at PGS.

Mr Priory as PGS Founder, Dr William Smith - with pupils from Reception (Autumn 2017)

Did you enjoy your own schooldays at the time, or rather more so on reflection?
I have learned that memory can be highly selective, possibly for evolutionary reasons!  You may want to take this with a pinch of Southsea salt, therefore, but I feel fortunate to be able to look back very positively on my own time at school and am sure that this was one of the reasons why it felt natural to become a teacher.  I remember Junior School as a time when I had great fun learning to write and perform in plays, Senior School as a time when I became more heavily involved in music and sport, and Sixth Form as a time when I was challenged to get involved in debating and public speaking.   I think I learned to love the rhythm of term time and seasonal holidays too!

Mr Priory, when he was Head of English, 2002
How was Oxford?  What did you put in and what did you get out of it?
Looking back, I realise that I was very lucky to be able to study there.  Lincoln College was one of the smaller colleges but with a big reputation for hospitality and a wonderful library and chapel, all of which suited me well!  I loved being involved in the Chapel Choir with various tours and recordings.  I was introduced to Romantic poetry by Wordsworth scholar Professor Stephen Gill, who would recite great passages from the Prelude from memory. I joined a writing group led by Martian poet Craig Raine in which we wrote poems anonymously and then critiqued each other’s work.  I even launched a rather short-lived literary society in honour of Lincoln College’s Edward Thomas. It was a happy time which now feels like a blur of bicycles and books.  Returning to Oxford years later I did feel somewhat of an outsider peering into the college, like Alice in Wonderland trying to get back into the Christ Church garden.  Places feel like they belong to other people very quickly in my experience!

What influenced your decision to go into teaching rather than the church?
I was thinking seriously about the Church having seen my father change from being an accountant to become a priest.  The college Chaplain advised me to take some time over my decision and encouraged me to find a teaching job.  My brother had done the same and was loving teaching, so I moved to Bradford Grammar School where a friend from Oxford was teaching Music and the rest, as they say, is History, or should that be English as that was what I was meant to be teaching?

How has your faith influenced your approaches to teaching and of being Head?
I like to think at the heart of what I do is a compassionate approach.  I also recognise that learning means we have to accept making mistakes and getting things wrong sometimes; and I know this because I do it enough myself.  It’s interesting that the challenges of wellbeing and mental health mean that the spiritual development of young people has probably become even more important in recent years, even when it is expressed in non-traditional ways.

Mr Priory, upon his appointment
as Headmaster of PGS, January 2008
When you became Head in 2008 you said that your favourite book was Tess of the D’Urbervilles.  Does it remain so and, if not, what is it today?
I still love Thomas Hardy and am conscious of my family having its roots in Dorset chalk and clay.  I have discovered another West Country writer John Cowper Powys and was bowled over by his novel Owain Glendower set in a fictionalised fourteenth century mid Wales, an area where we have often retreated in half term holidays.  I am finally starting to read some of the great European and Russian novels- in translation, admittedly- so suspect there might be a few more rivals for Tess very soon!

Is there a particular period of history in which you think you would have felt more comfortable?
Tim Hands used to refer to me as Blondel because of Richard the Lionheart’s Pompey connections and my penchant for writing light-hearted songs on the guitar.  If not a medieval troubadour, then my wife thinks I would have been very happy as a bespectacled eighteenth century parson collecting flora and fauna and occasionally popping up in a pulpit somewhere. Sounds like Gilbert White, doesn’t it? I’m sure William Smith would have approved.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Can Altruism Bias Overpower the Bandwagon Effect?

Philippa Noble conducts an experiment into the relative strengths of altruism bias and the bandwagon effect with a donation framing.

After taking on a behavioural economics project, Amy Mitchell and I chose to test the relative strengths of the bandwagon effect and altruism bias within PGS in a donation scenario. The bandwagon effect, sometimes known as herd behaviour, is where our behaviour copies what the majority has done before. For example, buying a new product as it is popular with consumers. Altruism bias, however, is where our behaviour gravitates towards the fairer or more just option.

Our main hypothesis was that the bandwagon effect would override the altruism bias and be the main dictator of test subjects’ behaviour. The bandwagon effect is a powerful cognitive bias, which drives much of our behaviour based on strong egos or social norms - effectively our entire understanding of what is appropriate behaviour. However, with donation framing, altruism bias could be emphasised to the extent that it would override this bias.

Before school on a Thursday morning, we followed a scientific method, using both a control and test group to check that our results would be valid. Taking a control group of 12 (from different year groups and genders), we offered each subject a choice of two jars, one labeled “John” and the other labeled “Jeremy”. We framed each trial with the following scenario:

We have been raising money for the homeless in Portsmouth and would like your help to decide who we should give it to. John and Jeremy are both from Portsmouth and are equally in need. Please cast your vote.

The subjects then took a counter to place their vote in either jar, removing it afterwards to reset each trial. We repeated this method with a test group of 10 (from different year groups and genders), now with the jar labeled “John” ⅓ full with extra counters. We asked each test subject to cast their vote. When subjects were in groups, we gave the briefing together, but kept each vote anonymous by asking those not immediately taking part to turn around. Through this, we ensured each vote was genuine, independent, and not affected by peer-pressure or additional bandwagon effect.

Our results were as follows:

Control Group
Test Group

These results show that altruism bias is much stronger than the bandwagon effect in this scenario, likely due to the heavy altruistic framing. 100% of test subjects chose the jar with no counters in it, showing a negative nudge from the ⅓ full jar. This was caused by a greater perceived unfairness compared to when both jars were equal, as each vote represented greater wellbeing from the same initial welfare.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Village Tales: The Heatwave Heptathlon

by Nina Watson

It was a hot and sticky Friday in June, the kind of day where moving seems illogical and a warm breeze is a welcome reprieve from the muggy weather. It was also the kind of Friday that saw many of the Mapplebottom residents enjoying a juice cleanse, squeezing in a gruelling Pilates session with their personal trainer or trying to pour themselves into a particularly tight pair of spandex shorts. Tomorrow morning was the annual ‘Hep Pep Heptathlon’, and this year the competitive spirit running up to the event had become slightly out of control. Perhaps it was something in the water, but the members of the Mapplebottom community had always been known for their dedication to a village competition, and their sabotage tactics this year had been incomparable. Pam and Andrew Turner had stolen the screws from Wendy and Michael Shelting’s tandem bicycle, Madge Greene had slowly been replacing Susan Hornslade’s protein powder for ground up Yak’s horn and Fiona Port had even begun to secretly sew wheels into the bottom of her trainers, just so she could whizz by Jane Appleby in the 100 metre race! Of course this was no ordinary Heptathlon with ordinary events, Mapplebottom had added their own flair to the mornings events. The Heptathlon was to proceed as follows; a 100 metre running race, five rounds of Morris dancing, a leisurely cycle twice round Farmer Yarnslow’s field, a speed stitch of six pairs of socks, a fierce three minute game of Pooh Sticks, the legendary wheelbarrow race to the village hall and finally the harshly judged dance routine that all entrants were asked to prepare prior to the event. Perhaps the most anticipated day on Mapplebottom’s social calendar, this years Hep Pep Heptathlon promised to be an incredible watch.


The competitors were approaching the halfway mark of the race, and many of the entrants had turned a perfect shade of puce, while others were beginning to lag further and further behind. It was 35°C and sweltering, and the judges were starting to regret allowing the racers to compete in the Heptathlon, in the desert formerly known as Mapplebottom. 

Monday, 2 July 2018

Summer Birds at PGS

by Tony Hicks

Herring Gull on the PGS Lion's Head:

Adult and young goldfinches:

RIP Doctor Who (1963-2017)

by Joe Brennan

Since its debut in 1963, Doctor Who has been a staple of British (and recently global) entertainment and, despite a few rough patches, it has maintained a solid and passionate fanbase for over 50 years.

The character of the Doctor, while ever changing, has always stuck to a consistent set of core characteristics and principles. However, in the Christmas special of 2017, these characteristics, and by extension the entire character of The Doctor, was betrayed. Steven Moffat, in his final episode of Doctor Who, was unable to put politics aside and let this decision ruin an episode that would have otherwise been a great sendoff to Peter Capaldi. In a decision that tainted and destroyed the legacy of past Doctors, Steven Moffat sacrificed character integrity and consistency of storytelling for an excuse to push his gender politics and a very blatant agenda.

They made the First Doctor sexist. They brought back the original incarnation for a full multi-doctor special just to make him the butt of a few sexist jokes. In an attempt to mock and ridicule an era of the show that Moffat has gone on record to say he doesn’t like, David Bradley’s character was injected with misogynistic and inappropriate views. Moffat’s reasoning is that “he’s from the 1960s” so has ideas that would be considered acceptable at the time but frowned upon today (hence Capaldi’s shocked and embarrassed reactions throughout the episode). This justification is so baffling that I have come up with a very shocking explanation- Steven Moffat has never seen Doctor Who. I know it sounds ludicrous but I’m 100% sure that the man has either never watched the show, or has somehow forgotten all of it. It seems unlikely that a man who has been attached to Doctor Who for 19 years and was running the whole show for 8 of them has never actually watched a single episode but it is the conclusion I find the most probable. If Moffat had watched just two episodes before the Christmas special (an episode he actually wrote), he would’ve heard The Doctor tell his companion that he is from “the most civilised civilisation in the universe” and that they were “billions of years beyond your petty obsession with gender and its associated stereotypes”. It’s a pretty good line, reminding the audience that The Master used to be a man (something rather important to a reveal later on in the episode) while also setting up quite an important change in The Doctor’s near future. So it would definitely appear strange two episodes later, if they had this same Time Lord from that same future civilisation say “aren’t all women made of glass... in a way?”.

Despite David Bradley giving an excellent performance as The Doctor (he had previously played the role of Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time for the 50th Anniversary), his return was tainted by Moffat’s growing incompetence and clear lack of understanding. Unfortunately, the majority of those watching the episode will not have seen any First Doctor episodes and will assume that he was a sexist old man. The First Doctor’s character really acts as William Hartnell’s legacy, immortalising him in entertainment history in a role that lives on to this day. Steven Moffat has said Doctor Who really only “becomes watchable” once it gets to Peter Davison so it shouldn’t really come as any surprise that he went on to butcher and mock the era he hates. As someone who has sat through every episode from his run and listened to the audio of all missing episodes, I can say very confidently that he does not treat women differently. True, he does talk down to Barbara and treats her like a child but the people using that as an example are neglecting to point out that he also treats Ian Chesterton with the same patronising attitude. An important part of Hartnell’s Doctor’s character arc is the transition he makes from grumpy old man to a warmer and more open figure. By the time Twice Upon a Time takes place, he should be at his most softened but he seems to have been written in the style of his very first episode.

Herstory: Where are the Women in History?

by Eleanor Williams-Brown

Where are the women in History? If it was not clear already from school’s History courses and most people’s general knowledge of History, women rarely feature in our established historical narrative. With the majority of History being written by men, and the patriarchal societies they lived in, this is not surprising. While there may be small sections on female monarchs such as Elizabeth I and ‘Bloody Mary’, the rest of the focus of women is confined to their roles as wives or mothers in the development of ‘Great Men’. This begs the question: What must women do to not be written out of History and is it worse to be completely erased or sexualised and have your achievements diminished or forgotten - like Cleopatra? With around 51% of the population being women, it is unrealistic to think so few have played a part in History, and acknowledging their roles can perhaps dispel some misogynistic viewpoints influenced by seeing only the men who shaped society and address the problems of our past.

The Egyptian pharaoh Hatshepsut was almost completely erased from the historical narrative, twenty years after her death. Statues of her were torn down and her name was chiselled off memorials. There is little question of her competency as pharaoh - her mortuary temple Djeser-Djeseru remains admired and was an architectural phenomenon at the time, and she claimed to be the daughter of the god Amun, demonstrating her close religious ties. Reigning for twenty-two years, her policy of economic expansion saw merchant colonies established in distant places, even in Lebanon. Her ships traded with India and Persia, building a great economic prosperity which remained mostly peaceful. It is presumed her erasure is largely thanks to her being a woman on the throne, even if she was just regent for her step-son. While it was entirely legal for a woman to be a monarch, it disturbed foundational Egyptian beliefs of maat (truth and justice) as well as the idea that the monarch was the living embodiment of the male god Horus. Despite aiming to conform to these ideas by taking the masculine name Hatshepsu (denoted with the male -su ending) and demanding to be depicted with the traditional false beard, someone, presumably her step-son Thutmose III, still aimed to destroy Hatshepsut’s legacy. Happening twenty years after her death, it was clearly not a personal grudge, as then he would have done so far sooner, but most likely a way to ensure balance was brought to appease the gods by erasing the image of a woman having ever able to have been on the throne. This suggests that that even if a woman attempts to conform to the roles her society forces onto her, and is an intensely successful monarch, she can still be erased as if her rule never happened.

Cleopatra is one of the most recognisable Egyptian historical figures. However, she is usually remembered as someone sexualised whose affairs brought the end of the Roman Republic. But, much like Hatshepsut, her reign brought twenty years of peace and prosperity to Egypt. She spoke many languages, commanded armies at 21, and was educated in the Library of Alexandria. Yet, she is demonised for her affairs with Mark Antony and Julius Caesar, with claims that she kept the latter away from Rome when he was needed in Rome. While it could be suggested she bears fault for this, it was Caesar's choice to stay, which he did as he was enchanted with Egypt culture, leading him to want to make plans for a public library and reform the calendar to the one most are familiar with today. Cleopatra’s image in pop culture ignores her achievements of managing a vast bureaucracy and keeping the economy stable - even in a drought, she opened the granaries to the public and passed a tax amnesty, keeping the people contented and ensuring her kingdom was stable. Unsurprisingly, there were no revolts in her reign, after this point. But, her popularity and skill at stabilising the economy are ignored due to the belief, enforced and created by Roman propaganda and later depictions of her - such as in Shakespeare’s ‘Cleopatra and Mark Antony’. This could perhaps be attributed to how she was seen to be meddling in Roman affairs after Caesar's death. However, it was actually the Roman factions who approached Egypt demanding aid, with her son with Caesar, it’s highly unlikely she had any choice as to whether she could support them or not. Moreover, it is unfair to demonise her for having a sexual relationship with two Roman generals, and focus solely on this, when both had countless affairs which are not treated with the same hyperfixation. Why is Cleopatra defined by her sexuality, when her male contemporaries are not? There is almost a cognitive dissonance in this disparity. It may be better for her to be remembered than her name erased like Hatshepsut, but, is it not equivocal to erasing her from history by obscuring her real personality and achievements with misogynistic ideals preoccupied with her sexuality? Is that not tantamount to not knowing of her at all?