Headteacher’s Welcome

Welcome to The Harbour School

The Harbour School is a Special School and Alternative Provision (AP). The school was founded in 2007 under the Power to Innovate initiative and has built its ethos on ensuring that every learner is supported to develop the skills and opportunities to succeed in their time at the school and for their life beyond school.

We endeavour to help our learners to feel they matter and belong, enabling them to improve their social, emotional and academic skills to be the best that they can be. We take a personalised approach for each child and young person and place importance on:

  • building confidence and independence
  • behaviour change through positive relationships with staff
  • teaching social and emotional skills
  • teaching academic skills
  • teaching vocational skills
  • working collaboratively with parents/carers and other key agencies

The school provides education for Portsmouth pupils who are unable to attend mainstream school for either Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) Needs or medical reasons. There are 95 places for learners with Education and Health Care Plans (EHCPs), 105 Alternative Provision (AP) places and 38 places funded from the ‘medical block’.

We deliver a range of services:

  • Special School and Alternative Provision for learners in Yr5 to Yr9 with SEMH Needs which cannot be met in mainstream school (The Harbour School @ Tipner).
  • Special School and Alternative Provision for learners in KS4 with SEMH Needs which cannot be met in mainstream school (The Harbour Vocational Centre).
  • Special and Alternative Provision for learners in KS3 and 4 with Medical Needs which cannot be met in mainstream school, Medical Tuition for learners who are too ill to attend school and Hospital Education (The Harbour School Medical Provision).
  • Special School Provision for learners with complex SEMH Needs as an alternative to out of city placement (The Harbour School @ Stamshaw and The Bridge).
  • Outreach Services to support learners in other schools across Portsmouth. The Multi-Agency Behaviour Support Service (MABS) and The Young Parents Support Service (YPSS).

The school makes provision for learners who require a short period of Alternative Provision away from mainstream school and for learners with long term and complex SEMH Needs. We operate under an SLA with Portsmouth City Council and are in the process of converting to academy status.

Four sites across Portsmouth are currently used to deliver the range of provision.

Assessments & Awards

In March 2012 and again in June 2015 Ofsted assessed the school to be good in all areas. Three Challenge Partners Reviews at The Harbour School have also assessed Teaching and Learning, School Improvement Strategies and Outcomes for Pupils to be good (2014, 2016 and 2018).

The most recent Challenge Partners Review (March 2019) assessed the:

  • Quality of Teaching, Learning and Assessment: Outstanding
  • Outcomes for Pupils: Outstanding
  • School Improvement Strategies: Outstanding
  • Overall: Outstanding

Challenge Partners recognised the following areas of excellent practice at The Harbour School:

  • Assessment and measurement of progress for Emotional Literacy (2014).
  • Identification and teaching of new Emotional Literacy skills (2014).
  • The provision for pupils who are not able to attend school for medical reasons (2016).
  • The PACE+ Approach to support social, emotional and mental health needs (2019).

In addition, the school won an award for supporting children’s social and emotional resilience from the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition (2014).

The Harbour School has been cited for outstanding practice in the Public Health England document Promoting Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing (2015) for:

  • The whole school approach and development plan.
  • Meeting individual’s emotional needs.

In July 2018 the school was successful in bidding in collaboration with the Portsmouth Education Partnership to the Department for Education Alternative Provision Innovation Fund for a grant to:

  • Further develop the successful reintegration of young people from Alternative Provision in KS3 where this is in the best interest of the young person and is compatible with the interests of the other young people at the school.
  • Further improve educational outcomes for these young people by increasing parent/carer engagement.

In January 2019 Louise Bomber (National expert in supporting children impacted by relational trauma and attachment needs) carried out a review at the school and reported that, ‘It was a privilege to spend a day with you all. I felt very moved by all that I observed and heard about. I’m not surprised your pupils are doing so well due to the sensitive, attuned and responsive care by you and your team. They are fortunate to have you all and to have these opportunities for second chance learning,’ We are continuing to work in partnership with Louise Bomber’s company Touchbase to further develop our practice.

A personalised approach

In addition to a broad and balanced curriculum offering both academic and vocational pathways The Harbour School uses a range of evidence-based interventions and approaches to best meet the needs of our learners including:

  • Assessing and teaching social and emotional skills. Teaching Emotional Literacy skills is one of three core subjects at The Harbour School along with Literacy and Numeracy.
  • Interventions to support learners to reflect and change their behaviour (Restorative Approaches and The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach).
  • Approaches to build trusting relationships with learners to support them to be ready to learn based upon the PACE Approach (Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy).

The Harbour School takes a personalised approach based on individual needs with every learner having an Individual Learning Plan and following one of the following pathways:


We hope this website offers helpful information for you, but please do contact us if you would like to find out more about what we could offer for your child. Thank you for your interest in our school.

Nick Morley – Headteacher, The Harbour School