In 1548 money from the Guild of the Holy Ghost Chapel was employed ‘to fynde a scole master to teche children grammar which hath been so continually kept thes 10 yeres last past unto this daye’. This seems to be the earliest record of organised education in Basingstoke. A Blue Coat school was founded by Richard Aldworth in 1646 and as the town grew, education was offered to girls as well as boys by small independent concerns. A National School commenced in 1811 and the British Schools in 1838. With the formation of a School Board in 1885, five schools were closed and amalgamated into two new buildings, Fairfields Schools in 1888.
Secondary education in the early 20th century catered for boys at the Queen Mary Grammar School and the Girls’ High School for those selected at the 11+ examination. Those not selected stayed at four all-age schools – Fairfields, Brookvale, Worting and St Johns.
To comply with the 1944 Education Act two secondary modern schools were constructed, Charles Chute School for Boys in the north, The Shrubbery Girls’ School in the south. The first stage of council house development since the war to accommodate employees at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment near Reading saw the opening of Oakridge primary school.
By 1961 the population of Basingstoke was 26,000. Between 1962-1977 a fifteen year Town Development Act was undertaken with the primary objective to relieve congestion and over-population in the County of London. It was anticipated that the population would increase to 75,000. This resulted in 38 schools being constructed providing 9,113 primary and 8,521 secondary places.
Provision was made for bi-lateral comprehensive secondary education and a Sixth Form College as well as improvements to the Technical College and construction of Roman Catholic schools. Some of the secondary schools served as community centres. As the population increased, places for 372 children with behavioural or learning difficulties were made available.
Plans for more secondary schools in the 1991-2001 Local Plan were cancelled due to demographic changes reducing the school rolls. Some school sites were reduced and surplus land sold for housing. For example, John Hunt of Everest school was demolished and built on a new site as a Community School, opened in 2007.
During the 2000 decade secondary schools became specialist technology, science, drama and enterprise academies. In 2003 Chute House became an annexe of the University of Winchester but this facility closed in 2011.
Research is on going for schools established after 1902, but draft histories of the schools built and operating from 1524 to 1902 can be found on this site.
Content derived during research for the new VCH Hampshire volume, Basingstoke and its surroundings.