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Poole is a large coastal town and seaport in the county of Dorset, on the south coast of England. The town is 33 kilometres (21 mi) east of Dorchester, andBournemouth adjoins Poole to the east. The local council is Poole Borough Council and was made a unitary authority in 1997, gaining administrative independence from Dorset County Council. The town had a population of 154,718 according to the 2011 census, making it the second largest settlement in Dorset. Together with Bournemouth and Christchurch, the town forms the South East Dorset conurbation with a total population of over 400,000.
Poole is a tourist resort, attracting visitors with its large natural harbour, history, the Lighthouse arts centre and Blue Flag beaches. The town has a busy commercial port with cross-Channel freight and passenger ferry services. The headquarters of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) are located in Poole, and the Royal Marines have a base in the town's harbour. Despite their names, Poole is the home of The Arts University Bournemouth, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and a significant part of Bournemouth University.
Poole has a shopping centre, being ‘The Dolphin Centre’ which has plenty on clothes shops, phone shops and a 'Boots'. As well as the shopping centre, Poole also offer a high street
There is plenty of nightlife to choose from in Poole including lots of pubs, bars and clubs. As well as restaurants, cinemas, bowling alleys and even dog racing. Some bars include 'Mai Tai Bar', 'The Chequers Inn' and Yates.
Poole has sixteen first schools, eight middle schools, seven combined schools, eight secondary and grammar schools, five special schools, two independent schools and one college of further education. Canford School is an independent boarding school administered by Poole local education authority. Poole's two grammar schools maintain a selective education system, assessed by the Twelve plus exam. Poole High Schoolis the largest secondary school in Poole with 1,660 pupils. The Bournemouth and Poole College attracts over 16,000 students a year and is one of the largest further education colleges in the country and the leading provider of academic and vocational education in Dorset. It has two centrally located main campuses in Poole and Bournemouth. In 2008, the college announced plans to refurbish and redevelop its campuses at an estimated cost of £120 million. However, the project stalled in 2009 when the Learning and Skills Council, which had promised to provide 80% of the money, ran out of funds.
From the 2007 General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) results, Poole was ranked 18th out of 148 local authorities in England based on the percentage of pupils attaining at least five A to C grades at GCSE level including maths and English (54.5% compared with the national average of 46.8%). Parkstone Grammar School was the most successful secondary school in Poole for GCSE results in 2007: 100% of pupils gained five or more GCSEs at A to C grade including maths and English. Canford School also achieved 100% and Poole Grammar School was the next best performing school with 98%. Poole High School achieved 39% and the worst performing school was Rossmore Community College where only 19% of students achieved five or more A to C grade results. Poole's grammar schools were also the best performing for A-level results. Poole Grammar School was the 60th most successful school/sixth form in the country in 2007: each student achieved on average 1071.4 points compared to the national average of 731.2. Parkstone Grammar School students averaged 1017.9 points.
Bournemouth University was designated as a university in 1992 and despite its name, the university's main campus (the Talbot Campus) and buildings are within the boundaries of Poole Borough; a smaller campus is situated in Bournemouth itself. Media courses are the university's strength, and recent teaching quality assessments have resulted in ratings of 'excellent' for courses in the areas of communication and media, business and management, catering and hospitality, archaeology and nursing and midwifery. The Arts University Bournemouth was designated as a university in 2012 and is located at Wallisdown. The AUB offers undergraduate, foundation degree, postgraduate and further education courses in contemporary arts, design and media.
The A350 road is Poole town centre's main artery, running north from Poole Bridge along Holes Bay and on to the A35, and as a single carriageway to Bath andBristol. To the east, the A337 road leads to Lymington and the New Forest. The A35 trunk road runs from Devon to Southampton and connects to the A31 on the outskirts of the town. The A31, the major trunk road in central southern England, connects to the M27 motorway at Southampton. From here the M3 motorwayleads to London, and fast access may also be gained via the A34 to the M4 north of Newbury. A second bridge is being built to connect Poole and Hamworthy as the existing bridge is unsuitable for the traffic flow. The £34 million Twin Sails bridge project was given approval by the Department for Transport in 2006 but construction was initially held up due to a stalemate between the council and the land owners and delays by the Department for Transport in approving a £14 million grant. After negotiations between the council and the land owners were settled in August 2009 and the government grant was provided in March 2010, construction began in May 2010 with completion due by early 2012. A road link to Studland and the Isle of Purbeck across the narrow entrance of Poole Harbour is provided by the Sandbanks Ferry.
Most local bus services are run by More Bus who are based at the town's bus station and have served Poole since 1983. Wilts & Dorset operate networks across Poole, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Salisbury, in addition to operations on the Isle of Purbeck and the New Forest. Other services are run by Bournemouth-based Yellow Buses and Damory Coaches. Poole is connected to towns and villages along the Jurassic Coast by the First X53 service, which runs along a route of 142 kilometres (88 mi) to Weymouth, Bridport, Lyme Regis, Seaton and Exeter. Poole is also a calling point for National Express Coaches, which have frequent departures to London Victoria Coach Station. There are also direct services to the Midlands, the North of England and to Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
Poole railway station is served byLondon Waterloo to Weymouth express and semi-fast services.
Poole has four railway stations on the South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Weymouth. From east to west these are Branksome near the border with Bournemouth, Parkstone, Poole railway station in the town centre and Hamworthy. Services are operated by South West Trains and consist of up to three trains an hour (fast, semi-fast and stopping services) to and from London, and twice an hour to and from Weymouth. Plans for a £50 million redevelopment of Poole railway station have stalled since 2006 due to contractual issues between land owners Network Rail and developers the Kier Group.
Poole is a cross-Channel port for passengers and freight. Ferry services from Poole Harbour to Cherbourg are provided by Brittany Ferries who operate one round trip per day using the Barfleur. The Condor Ferries catamarans Condor Express and Condor Vitesse run seasonal services to Guernsey, Jersey and St. Malo, Brittany. LD Linesrun a year round passenger and freight service to Santander, Spain and in January 2014 will launch a service to Gijón, Spain using the ferry Norman Asturias.Bournemouth International Airport in Hurn, on the periphery of Bournemouth, is the nearest airport to Poole - 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Poole town centre. Ryanair,easyJet, Thomson Airways and Palmair operate from the airport and provide scheduled services to destinations in the UK and Europe.