An inclusive, all-through school on the coast of north west England with a diverse, international student body enjoying a well-rounded education that takes them from studying the IB and A Levels to stargazing and playing a rather unique game of beach hockey.
With its stately buildings, stunning coastal location, and private beach, Rossall offers an impressive campus to 630 students aged 0 to 18 years. This co-educational day and boarding school has a global outlook, Teaching follows the IB Programme (as well as GCSEs, A Levels and BTECs); there’s a high proportion of students from overseas (although the majority are British); and, indicative of the school’s drive to recruit overseas, the website has been translated into 16 different languages.
Here’s a school that has carved out its own identity – and moved with the times to adapt from a school for the sons of clergymen in the 1844 to a co-ed school for students from more than 30 different countries. It’s a school that’s built on tradition and continues to host events that date back over 150 years, such as the 12 Days of Christmas Sing-Off in the dining hall or the annual House Singing competition in Blackpool. And a special mention must be given to the school’s unique game of Ross Hockey, which was introduced more than a century ago when flooded playing fields forced pupils to take a short walk from the school to the beach to start up their own frantic version of hockey. (Apparently, Rossall won’t even challenge other schools to a game, the rules are so confusing!)
Rossall is also a school that has been happy to break with tradition, and to move away from offering a classical education to one that embraces the IB Programme. It offers less traditional subjects such as astronomy (it’s also the only school in the UK to have its own astronomy centre and Victorian observatory). And it offers fast track IGCSE courses for students joining the school for one year.
There’s a high percentage of boarders (40%), the majority being international students. Its boarding facilities have been praised by ISI inspectors as a considerable strength that “contributes to the experience of all pupils creating a genuine, welcoming and family ethos”. The house system is also a strength of the school: The school works hard to keep build a strong community of both day and boarding students; all belong to a house and are free to go to a boarding house after school and during the weekend if they wish. And by keeping its class numbers small, Rossall’s overseas students can integrate quickly and perfect their English.
Rossall was rated Good in its most recently available ISI Educational Quality report (2019).
Rossall delivers an education that promises to meet the “needs of absolutely everyone”, and one of the benefits of the IB education that is offered here is its wide subject exposure and all-round approach. Rossall has also made the curriculum its own. Strengths include languages – Year 7 students study French, German, Spanish and Mandarin in a carousel format, and there’s Latin from Year 9.
It’s a school that offers choice and variety, whether that’s teaching astronomy in its own space centre, holding a beach school on its private strip of coastline, or taking care of the animals on the school’s own petting farm. It also stays well-connected with the outside world. Its Speaker Series programme, for example, has seen British author Nick Hornby and Robin Oakley, UK director of Greenpeace talking to students.
Dina Porovic, Rossall’s deputy head (academic) says that, “Lessons and learning are not just about the assimilation and regurgitation of knowledge”, which we would expect to find in any forward-thinking school. UK private schools are certainly among the best at moving away from this outdated, basic schooling mode, and Rossall is among them. ISI inspectors found that Rossall students are “inquisitive, highly motivated and display curiosity about the world beyond the classroom” – which certainly suggests that the school is developing individual minds.
Students in the junior and senior schools study the IB Primary Years and Middle Years programmes, both of which should prepare them well to take I/GCSEs in Years 10-11. There are also fast-track specialist courses for international students needing to develop English and academic skills, and this is certainly a school that encourages applications from students living outside the UK. Students here are encouraged to study at least one language at GCSE level, and there are opportunities to study additional GCSEs in astronomy, Ancient Greek, or business studies after-school.
In sixth form, Rossallians have the choice of specialising in A Level subjects, covering a wide exposure of subjects in the IB Diploma Programme, or taking a vocational path with BTEC diplomas in sport or business. As Rossall says, “there is no one right path”. Roughly a third of sixth formers choose the IBDP rather than A Levels.
Rossall's expanding sporting provisions move in tandem with a desire to include all students. There are top-notch sporting facilities, including a new sports centre with room for eight badminton courts, dance studios, and classrooms; there is also a 25-metre pool, squash, tennis, and fives courts. As well as offering wide range of well-known team sports, there are some more quirkily British sports like rugby fives, which it plays against prestigious public schools.
The school’s golf academy really stands out here (in 2019, the school was ranked number one in the UK for golf); it has an indoor golf studio as well as plenty of space across its 160-acre campus to swing a golf ball. Rossall also runs an elite football programme in partnership with Fleetwood Town Football Club.
From nativity plays through to West End hits, the school is always putting on a performance across the year group. The school choir has sung at international venues including Westminster Abbey
Many students here sign up for the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Combined Cadet Force. There is also a huge choice of extra-curricular activities, with some of the more unusual ones including visual journaling, the Harry Potter Appreciation Society, cryptography, astronomy, and pentathlon.
In the 2020 A Level exams, nearly 20% of grades awarded were the top mark of A*; the average score in the IBDP was 34; and 100% of students achieved five or more passes (grades 9-4 or A*-C)
These results must be viewed in that context that Rossall is not a selective school, and a large proportion of students taking GCSE/IGCSE, A level and IB exams do not have English as a first language.
Rossall has a beautiful campus with ivy-clad buildings and a collegiate-style quadrangle, but a school has to be more than a collection of attractive buildings – and it is. A resident astronomer teaches young stargazers from the on-site space centre, students perfect their swing in a well-equipped golf academy, and The Rossall Kitchen is one of the most contemporary ‘classrooms’ we’ve seen for food and nutrition lessons.
The school has been modernised sensitively in recent years, most recently with the opening of £4.2 million sports centre in 2019 that was built in celebration of the school’s 175th anniversary. There is also a purpose-built nursery in a quiet spot on the campus, a music school with organ and orchestral rehearsal room, a dedicated science block, and boarding houses on campus.
Located on the coast of Fleetwood in Lancashire, Rossall School has its own private beach which is put to good use. Students here may have to get used to some of the harshest of UK winters but, as the school’s first ever Captain of Rossall TW Sharpe wrote, “…to us, who could bear the winds and brunt the storm, it gave a hardening strength which has braced us up for life.”
Students can join from as young as three months to the nursery, which guarantees them a place in Rossall’s Reception Class. Rossall is a non-selective school, and international students “with a very good level of English” may be accepted for entry straight onto the school’s full British curriculum courses in senior school.
Annual tuition fees for day students range from £8,445 in junior school to £11,280 in Years 7-8, and £12,255 in senior school. Scholarships are awarded for students entering Years 7, 9 and 12, with outstanding talent in the fields of academics, sport, music, art and performing arts/drama. The school has recently extended its scholarships and bursaries programme, which benefits an increasing number of local children living on the Fylde Coast.
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