Popular for being non-selective and all-inclusive school, this all-through school sees students achieve excellent academic grades in a non-pressurised, very supportive environment.
This all-through day and boarding school for Years 1 to 13 is non-selective, so it is accessible for students of mixed abilities – and students are supported whether they are strong Oxbridge candidates, passionate arts students, or need some additional support beyond the mainstream curriculum.
The school continues to invest in some excellent that support all aspects of the curriculum, from maths and science blocks with the latest technologies to a purpose-built music school and new modern library.
Seaford has three separate Schools – Prep, Senior, and Sixth Form – but is very much “one college” where students come together as part of a wider community. Students of all ages benefit from the excellent facilities that a school of this size, and with such a broad age range, can offer. There are certain advantages to joining a prep school that is part of an all-through campus, and these are certainly promoted at Seaford; students are fortunate to have specialist teachers in core subjects from as young as seven, as well as mentoring from older students.
The school was founded in 1884, originally in the seaside town of Seaford and was relocated to its current location at Lavington Park near Petworth in West Sussex during World War 2. The motto 'Love to learn' drives a positive whole – school ethos and culture to develop learners who love, not only academic subjects, but also the performing arts, sport, art, and photography.
The school has a well-established wellbeing programme to ensure that no student “flies under the radar”. It all stems from the aptly named Pink House, which is a pastoral and wellbeing hub (there’s a dedicated Pink Room in the Prep school too. It’s the centre for all counselling, wellbeing support, training for peer mentors (who are easily identified around campus by their light pink lanyards), and home to the much loved Kia, a German Short Haired Pointer. The school recognises the importance of healthy eating, sleep and exercise, and most recently it introduced martial arts classes to its truly inspiring and enjoyable wellbeing programme.
John Green, who was previously the school’s deputy, was appointed Headmaster in September 2013. As a former professional rugby player for Saracens, Mr Green’s passion for sport feeds into a thriving sports programme at the school.
Seaford offers a broad curriculum, keeping the range of subjects “as wide as possible, for as long as possible, for as many students as possible”; it wants to encourage students to discover their individual strengths and talents by learning a wide variety of subjects. As mentioned before, there is a very inclusive learning environment at Seaford and there’s a dedicated Access and Achievement Centre for students need extra help to develop their individual potential.
In the Prep school (Years 1-8), children have the benefit of specialist teachers in French, Spanish, Drama, Music, ICT, DT, PSHE, History, PE, and Games, as well as a regular Forest School. As it’s fortunate enough to be located within the most scenic grounds a school could wish for, it’s great to see Seaford to put an emphasis on outdoor learning; your child will be spending as much time as possible in the fresh air, whatever the Great British weather!
The school does not follow the Common Entrance syllabus (and with students given the option to move up to the Senior School, there’s no pressure on them to prepare for it). The Common Entrance is criticised for being too narrow in scope and biased against students with a lower academic ability. In contrast the curriculum at Seaford feels fresh, flexible and above all creative. For example, there are Creative Curriculum Weeks (Harry Potter was among the most recent) where fun and learning come together. As Headmaster John Green says,
“There is a tendency in education these days for fun and learning to be viewed as mutually exclusive, whereas I think the two are very much united. You can’t achieve successful learning without happy children who are having fun.”
When students reach Senior School, the curriculum remains broad and creative. There’s excellent support when it comes to choosing GCSE options; students take part in a Creative and Academic Carousels to give them an insight into subjects that they can pursue from Year 10 including music technology, drama, and dance, politics, and IT. Time is also dedicated to learning life-skills such as self-defence, cookery and dog handling as well as extra-curricular activities like yoga and dance.
Seaford looks well beyond the academic curriculum to equip students with a wide variety of skills – which is exactly what universities and employers are looking for.
The school puts emphasis on students choosing GCSE subjects that they “love”, another strong indicator of the school’s focus on making education enjoyable. There’s a varied list of both creative and academic GCSE options, some assessed by exam, others more by coursework; it gives students the chance to pursue their interests, and study hands-on, practical subjects. These include 3D design, textile design, PE, music, graphic communication, food preparation and nutrition, fine art, drama, design and technology, dance, Latin, computer science and religious studies; the school also offers BTECs in business and information and creative technology.
This breadth continues into the Sixth Form where students have a choice of over 30 subjects including A Levels and BTECs.
Seaford has one of the widest choices of BTECs courses within the UK’s independent schools’ sector, and it’s certainly a huge draw for student looking for more practical pathways. There are BTECS in business, countryside management, computing, performing arts, travel and tourism, and sport. The choice of A Level subjects is as varied as biology, product design, sociology, politics, Spanish and dance.
While academic success is not the sole focus here, it is taken seriously. It’s a school where students can expect to work hard, be pushed, and be challenged. The school’s own Challenge Grades system gives each student “realistic yet ambitious targets” and there’s dedicated time for homework (prep) in both the prep and senior schools. For the most gifted students, and those wishing to apply to Oxbridge or to study Medicine or Veterinary Science, the school runs an extensive enrichment programme.
Private schools worldwide have a reputation for championing sport and the arts, whether that’s music, drama, dance, film, or art. Seaford really does make extra space for the creative and performing arts in its curriculum and invest in the facilities to give students an advantage in non-academic activities.
There’s a big focus on sport at Seaford. It has excellent facilities, a sports scholarship programme, runs annual international tours, and has specialist coaches including Chris Adams, a former Sussex captain and England Test player. All students have the opportunity to represent the school in competitive matches played every Saturday.
The core sports are rugby, hockey, netball, athletics, cricket, and rounders, but less traditional activities such as golf, equestrian and sailing are also offered. Never resting on its laurels, the school has only recently introduced equestrian and polo to its sports programme, and it's also great to see the growth of girls’ cricket at the school.
There’s year-round swimming thanks to a covered swimming pool, as well as an all-weather hockey AstroTurf pitch, seven rugby pitches, six tennis courts, five outdoor netball courts, two indoor netball courts, five cricket pitches, an athletics track, and a double sized indoor sports hall. Few schools can boast of having their own nine-hole golf course and driving range, but Seaford is one of them. For those who are not into team sports, there’s a climbing wall, dance studio and even the school’s own spin room.
Seaford has a strong culture of creativity. Whether on stage, in the recording studio, or behind the easel, students are given opportunities at every corner to showcase their creative talents. There are more opportunities to study the arts at GCSE, A Level and BTEC compared to many independent schools, and this is supported by co-curricular clubs and groups, peripatetic lessons, and regular performances.
Facilities include a recital room, areas for bands to practise in, a recording studio, and a performing arts centre for more than 700 students – which facilitate the all-round education that Seaford is so proud of.
From astronomy to chess, climbing to Land rover club, there’s a lot going on during and after the school day – and Seaford is a school with a strong ‘have a go’ attitude, so students need to arrive with plenty of enthusiasm and energy. With so much on offer, we’d expect that every child should find something that they enjoy. Students are strongly encouraged by Headmaster John Green to be part of a team, and that can be playing sport for the school, singing in the choir or rock band, or joining the debating team.
Seaford encourages students to develop leadership skills through many outdoor activities. As well as the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, all Year 10 students join one of the CCF services. There are also optional weekend activities including clay pigeon shooting, mountain biking and kayaking.
There’s also a growing Community Service programme including Seaford’s Big Day Out; this is another idea of the school’s very dynamic and forward-thinking Headmaster, when every student at goes out into the community and helps on a project in locations across Sussex and Hampshire.
Seaford offers full, weekly and flexible boarding to a small community of around 80 boarders. Thanks to its new flexible weekly boarding programme, students can spend anything from one to seven nights at the school.
There are five boarding houses on campus including Mansion House for Prep boarders and three single-sex junior houses. There’s a separate mixed boarding house for Year 13, Heden Hall, helping the college’s oldest students to experience a more independent lifestyle.
The key entry points into the Prep School are Years 1-3 & 7, Year 9 in the Senior School, and Year 12 for Sixth Form. Year 9 is a popular entry point at Seaford. Many students move into Year 9 from the Prep School, but there is a small number coming from local state and independent schools, and overseas.
It’s academically non-selective so expect your child to attend Seaford Experience Days rather than sit tough entrance exams; students applying for Year 9 do need to sit the ISEB Common Pre-Tests “to ascertain not only whether your child will be able to access the curriculum, but whether they will be happy in the Seaford College environment”.
Annual fees for day students range from £11,880 to £24,630; fees for boarders are £24,735 to £38,070.
Good for: There’s a lot to like about this school – first impressions when entering its sweeping drive (and spying the golf course) are likely to be very good. Seaford is a school that wants to recognise all types of strengths, not only academic achievement, and turns out well-rounded students.
It manages to balance being informal and friendly with academically strong, which can be a challenge. Particularly in the Prep School, its creative curriculum allows students to develop their own pathways rather than staying focused on preparing for academic tests.
Not for: As the school does not follow the Common Entrance syllabus, this may not be the best choice if your child plans to leave the Prep school for a more academic senior school where the Common Entrance is part of the admissions process. Seaford has a small boarding community so students looking for a full boarding experience, where day students are not leaving at the end of every school day, may prefer an alternative. And while, its countryside location is fabulous, it may feel too rural for some.
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