Lancing College Review

Lancing College is one of England's most prestigious co-ed day and boarding schools. It offers an all-round education
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 12,500
Annual fees
GBP 12,355 - 12,355
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
1848
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Dominic Oliver
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Lancing College
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 12,500
Annual fees
GBP 12,355 - 12,355
Price band help
Value
Status
Open
Opening year
1848
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Dominic Oliver
Main teacher nationality
United Kingdom
Main student nationality
United Kingdom
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Lancing College is one of England's most prestigious co-ed day and boarding schools. It offers an all-round education

Perched majestically upon a hilltop on the South Downs, there are few schools that can rival this setting. Lancing has stunning views of the sea and surrounding countryside, yet it is reasonably close to London (50 miles), 30 minutes from Gatwick Airport and only five miles from Brighton. Offering IGCSEs, GCSEs and A Levels from ages 13 to 18 years, and with the majority of students being English, it is a traditional but not a stuffy, “establishment” independent school.

Lancing continues to build, (the chapel is finally being completed in May 2021) and keep up with the times. It is a mid-sized school with 18 per class but with smaller classes in the Sixth Form, which gives it a community feel. Students say they make friends for life at Lancing College.

Lancing was founded in 1848 by Nathaniel Woodward, priest and visionary, who established some 30 other schools, with education of the middle classes in mind. Woodward's aim was to provide education "based on sound principle and sound knowledge, firmly grounded in the Christian faith.” After driving up the small lane surrounded by woodland, the stunning 90-foot high Victorian gothic chapel immediately comes into view. The founder’s vision, to place this chapel at the top of the hill, knew it would be breathtaking – and it is. He insisted that the chapel be built to its full height so he started at one end first, to ensure that his legacy could not be cut down proportionally, should he die before it was finished.

The grounds are truly beautiful and inspiring. The students know this and do not take it for granted. Despite the imposing chapel, the school retains an intimate and cosy feel. “It’s difficult to quantify the magic of a Lancing education. It’s more than the sum of its parts”.

Dominic Oliver, Headmaster since 2014, was previously acting Head at Bedales and Head of English and Academic Development at Malvern. He lectured in English at Oxford University with a specialism in Shakespeare. He is a highly motivated and forward thinking educator with a passion for an all-round education, not just in the classroom. He believes that personal achievement comes from all activities, whether outdoors or in the community, in conjunction with examination results.

In 2017, Lancing was awarded an Excellent rating in its ISI inspection, which highlighted that, “Pupils’ highly developed study skills provide a secure base to support their outstanding academic and other achievements. Their excellent attitudes to their studies are exemplified by high levels of initiative and independence in their learning.”

Mr Oliver said:

“We are delighted to be awarded an overall excellent rating and this is a testament to our staff at the College and to our amazing pupils. We take our role in teaching, guiding and caring for our pupils very seriously”.

His two children attend the Lancing group of schools, which include two preparatory schools (in nearby Hove and Worthing), and a nursery school. Girls were admitted in 1971 and the ration is now 60:40 boys to girls, which they are addressing, with 600 pupils in total, 33% coming from overseas and with 50:50 boys to girls in the Sixth Form.

Key features: Equestrian centre on site with Olympic gold medallist Richard Meade teaching, 30 horses, and space for livery. It also boasts an elite swimming squad.

Alumni include: Sir Tim Rice, Evelyn Waugh, Sir David Hare, Sir Roy Calne, pioneer of liver transplantation, Nana Adda Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana from 2017, Edward Piper and many more.

The curriculum

Teaching from Year 9 follows the National Curriculum for England, so all students study English, mathematics, biology, chemistry, physics, religious studies, geography, history, classics, art & design, drama, music, physical education, information technology and life skills; for Modern Foreign Languages, students can choose between French, German, Spanish and Mandarin.

English Language and Literature, mathematics, and at least two sciences plus religious studies are all compulsory at GCSE level, and students choose four options.

Providing students attain a 7 or above at GCSE/IGCSE in their chosen subject (or five 6 grades if entering externally), students go on to take three or four A Levels. Lancing introduces economics, psychology, photography, the Extended pPoject Qualification, computer science, design and technology, and business at 16+.

Lancing College has a solid learning support department and “enriches and extends the learning of all pupils in accordance with the SEN code of practice and recent JCQ legislation.” There are two full time SEN members of staff and all international students receive help with English, if required, although a good standard is expected of them upon arrival.

It offers countless academic extras such as problem solving and languages, the Investors’ Club and Robotics, to name but a few.

Sport and the arts

As for sports, Lancing offers everything from horse riding to rifle shooting, rock climbing clubs and sailing and with so many others on offer it is hard to choose. The football fields are in a beautiful setting and sport is taught by professional coaches. The sports programme is student-led, which the school is very proud of.

Drama is extremely popular, and the school offers 10-plus productions every year. Agatha Christie opened its open-air theatre in 1960, and there is a beautiful performing arts centre/theatre. The music is unrivalled, with two organs in the chapel, countless trips to music events, 40 concerts per year and every opportunity available including composition lessons, conducting classes and orchestras, choirs and rock music workshops to name a few.

Beyond the classroom

Lancing has its own farm which is fabulous, and this has encouraged several students to pursue careers in veterinary medicine. It has an excellent Outreach programme and CCF is hugely popular. The Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and Amnesty International are just a few of its extra-curricular activities, and Junior Scouts has also been introduced. There is a legendary school five-mile run across the gorgeous South Downs, making the most of the surroundings.

With extensive art extra-curricular activities including knitting and a glass terrarium workshop, as well as Enrichment activities including chess, debating (big at Lancing) and Masterchef@Lancing it would be hard to try everything during your time spent here. There are also plenty of music, dance, drama and DT options; it really is a huge list.

Pastoral care is taken seriously, with a strict anti-bullying policy in place. An oversubscribed mentorship scheme is longstanding, with older students being properly trained to mentor younger ones; this works well and gives the mentors an important sense of responsibility. The students are kind and thoughtful; with the school motto “Be inspired, be brilliant, be you", students are encouraged to be free thinking.

My Future is an excellent Sixth Form programme which includes careers advisors, careers conferences, and bringing old alumni back to talk to current students. The school also has ambassadors at 10 universities.

Academic results

In 2020, with much of the teaching online, Lancing still achieved excellent results. Almost 25% of all awarded grades at A Level were A* and half of all grades were A* - A. An amazing 43 pupils achieved a full sweep of A* and As and 85% were awarded A*-B. One fifth of A Level entries were in the sciences with almost as many girls as boys taking these subjects in 2020.

Nine students received offers to Oxford and Cambridge; from the school’s outstanding music department, seven students achieved places to specialist conservatoires. The majority of students go on to attend Russell Group universities and four were accepted into medical schools.

At GCSE, 23% of grades achieved were 9, 43% were 8 and above and 67% were graded 7 or above. 

Campus and facilities

Lancing welcomes those of any faith or no faith but Christian values are fundamental to this school and it follows a high church Anglican tradition. The whole college attends chapel on Wednesday mornings as well as on two Sundays per term. However, its approach is inclusive, and everyone seems to love chapel, saying it is part of what makes Lancing feel like a very special family.

Boarding

60% of students board and boarding is very much the ethos of the school. There are 10 houses, nine of which are single-sex, and a new co-ed day house was built in 2018. All houses take students from across the years and there is no separate Sixth Form accommodation, although they have separate corridors, kitchens and common rooms. Students like this age diversity.

Students share rooms in pairs, threes or fours but by Year 10 they share a room with one other, and by Year 11 they have single rooms which are spacious. All houses have a matron, who the pupils seemingly love and 70% of the staff live on site. This results in huge staff involvement all the time with masses to do.

Staff (and their families) are available at weekends, to chat to over brunch or to help with an essay. Students and staff agree that boarding, either full time or part time, enables them to get the most out of the school. “Who wouldn’t want to live here?” is echoed by staff and students alike. Lancing has a Saturday full school day, so it is not the school for you if you plan to have busy weekends elsewhere.

Admission and fees

Lancing is a selective school and has recently introduced a Pre-Test for entry from 2021 onwards. There is increased demand for entry via this route, which means that the number of places remaining open for entry at the Year 7 stage or later will be small and inevitably more competitive than via the Advance Programme route.

Parents applying within 18 months of the start of Year 9 risk their child only being offered a place on the waiting list. It asks for a minimum of 55% in the Common Entrance exam, for entry aged 13, which makes Lancing less selective than some surrounding schools. International students take an exam and are interviewed on Zoom.

There are about 100 places available and around 25% enter from Lancing’s own prep schools. A further 40 places are available at 14+ and 16+.

Scholarships are available in most subjects, including organ and cricket, worth 5-10% of the fees, and then bursaries can be applied for over and above the scholarship award. It has introduced “Foundationer” places, which are full scholarships, and there are 25 places for disadvantaged students. The school believes spaces should be made available for everyone, providing a mix of students, not just the most fortunate.

Fees per term are £12,355 (boarding), £8,440 (day), £10,385 (flexi boarding - three nights a week) and occasional overnight boarding at £62 per night, if available.

Best for
Inquisitive students who want to be kept very busy
Integrated aged boarding
Those with a love of outdoor pursuits

Not for
Those seeking a city based education
An examination hot house education
Those seeking a single sex education
Those who want free weekends

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