Worth School Review

A Catholic school offering full-time boarding to mix of international and local students, with a choice of pathways at Sixth Form as part of its ‘no one size fits all’ model of education.
At a glance
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 22,500
Annual fees
GBP 16,890 - 25,080
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1933
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Stuart McPherson
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Worth School
School type
Private
School phase
Secondary
Inspection rating
Excellent
Curricula taught
Availability 2020/21
No data
Availability 2021/22
No data
Annual fee average
GBP 22,500
Annual fees
GBP 16,890 - 25,080
Price band help
Mid-range
Status
Open
Opening year
1933
School year
Sep to Jul
Principal
Mr Stuart McPherson
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A Catholic school offering full-time boarding to mix of international and local students, with a choice of pathways at Sixth Form as part of its ‘no one size fits all’ model of education.

Worth School is a co-educational, Catholic boarding and day school for students aged 11-18 with an international outlook, a distinctive Benedictine tradition, and a choice of A Levels, the IB and BTECs. An academically selective and ambitious school – with results that reflect this – Worth is also focused on helping students to achieve goals that look beyond university places and high-flying careers. 

In the words of Headmaster Stuart McPherson, Worth offers:

"An education of heart and soul, which encourages all Worth pupils to think of their education not just in terms of their results or careers but also their contribution to the world through service to others, and building community and stewardship of the Earth."

Situated in 500 acres of beautiful Sussex countryside, and within easy reach of London and Gatwick, Worth is mid-sized senior school with 640 students. It has been co-ed since 2008. About half the student body are boarders, and half of these come from overseas. 

Its origins lie in the foundation of a Benedictine community, in 1606, in France, by a group of English and Welsh monks in exile. In the early 1930s Abbot John Chapman established another monastic community and a junior school on the present site. The Senior School was founded in 1959.

In 1992, Worth became the first English Benedictine school to take both boarding and day students. Worth has had a lay head since 2002, with the Abbot still being President of the Board of Governors. Monks serve as Governors or as House Chaplains. The inspiration for the way of life at Worth comes directly from The Rule of St Benedict, whose key purpose is living out Christianity as members of a community.

Worship is an integral part of this school. Whilst it is strongly Roman Catholic, it welcomes students from “all different backgrounds”.

The Chaplaincy is located at the heart of the school and acts as the “Spiritual, Catholic and Benedictine link from the monastic community to the school”. The Chaplaincy gives pastoral support to the Houses, each of which have a Chaplain appointed to it, often with an assistant Chaplain. It is responsible for the school liturgies and the “spiritual formation and evangelisation of the whole school community”.

The first three Confirmation classes are compulsory for Year 10 and times of prayer are a regular feature of life at Worth, with morning and evening prayers and weekly services in the Abbey Church. Its vision is to “provide every student and staff member with an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ”. Students are “strongly encouraged” to commit to a Summer pilgrimage to Lourdes or Taize. There are several Retreats each year at Worth, which take the form of days of reflection.

Formation at Worth is in two levels, the first is an induction into the Catholic faith and the Benedictine ethos, so that pupils can feel comfortable living in a faith environment. The second level, this one voluntary, is the evangelisation programme. The global “Alpha” tool is used to explore the basics of Christianity. This is a series of interactive sessions exploring the basics of the Christian faith and this is offered on a regular, ongoing basis.

Students joining Worth are expected to “support and be comfortable with (our) Catholic and Benedictine foundation and character” but no one is treated less favourably during the admissions process on the grounds of faith, nationality, ethnic origin or socio-economic group.

Stuart McPherson has been Headmaster since 2015. He was educated at the University of Western Australia and later he received at MA in Literature and Religion from Newcastle University. He taught English at Eton College for 15 years, and was latterly a Housemaster there.

Curriculum

Students follow a broad curriculum in Year 7-8 that has been designed to lay the foundations for their GCSE years. While many UK independent schools start in Year 9, Worth offers students an earlier entry point. It means they don't have to sit any further examinations – such as the Common Entrance – to progress into the senior school. As Worth says, "the junior years are focused on learning, rather than testing".

Taught by specialists, subjects include everything you'd expect from a private prep school : Art, Drama, Design and Technology, English, Computer Science, French, Geography, History, Latin, Mathematics, Music, Physical Education, Religious Studies and Science. While the junior students board in separate house to the seniors, they still have use all of the laboratories, theatre and other facilities on campus.

From Year 9, science is taken as three separate subjects, and German and Spanish are additional modern foreign language choices. Latin and Music become optional and students continue to be provided with a “broad understanding of Catholic tradition”.

The curriculum is extensive at Sixth Form with the IB, A Levels and the BTEC Level Three Diploma in Business Studies all on offer. The BTEC is equivalent to two A Levels.

Students taking A Levels study three subjects. All the usual core subjects are available, with Music Technology, Photography, Sports Science and Theatre Studies being offered as less traditional options. Greek, Italian and Mandarin are also available at an additional cost.

Sport and the arts

The major sports at Worth are rugby, football, cricket, hockey, tennis and athletics for boys and hockey, lacrosse, netball, tennis, football and athletics for girls. Popular extras are badminton, basketball, cross country, fencing, golf, squash and swimming.

It has more than 30 acres of pitches, its own golf course and a floodlit Astropitch. The sports hall provides excellent facilities for squash, a gym with a cardiovascular suite and a hard court five-a-side pitch. Several students participate in sport at county or national level in cricket, rugby, hockey, football, cycling, tennis, showjumping, fencing, netball and climbing. To facilitate this, Worth has strong links with its local clubs, for example, the excellent East Grinstead hockey club and the professional Crawley Town FC.

The school has supports its most elite athletes in cricket, football and golf through an Academy Sports programme. 

Drama is good here and covers a wide range of productions from classical to comedy. Worth has its own theatre company called Inspire, made up of all the drama scholars and this provides students with the opportunity to take part in master classes. Inspire raised over £10,000 last year for charity by running two interactive dinner and entertainment cabaret evenings.

Music is strong here and the acoustics in the Abbey are fantastic and this is where the gala performances take place. The two choirs do not just sing music for worship, they also sing Gospel, pop and jazz. Many students are members of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain. There is a large Symphony Orchestra, a String Orchestra, several chamber groups and a Jazz Band. There is a fun open mic event once a term and the facilities are good, with recording studio, soundproofed live room, an IT suite and more.

Beyond the classroom

Worth students have plenty of opportunities to learn new skills and develop their existing talents. The school offers over 50 clubs and societies including Hebrew for Beginners, Microbit, Refugee Help Club, Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Astronomy.

The community service programme is large and varied at Worth. It includes students accompanying the elderly to the supermarket, assisting in local charity shops, supporting the local homeless hostel and local primary school support.

Academic results

Results are well above the national average, in all pathways. 

At A Level, 58% achieved A*-A (44% in 2020) and 80%` achieved A*-B (70% in 2020)

At GCSE, 42% achieved Grades 8-9 (38% in 2020) and 59% of all grades were 7-9 (58% in 2020).

The five-year average of the IB is 36 points; in 2021 the average was  36, and the school had one of its largest ever cohorts.

Campus and facilities

Boys and girls joining in Year 7 and 8 start in Austin House, a day house with its own accommodation, House staff and tutors, and study and social areas (including the must-have football and ping pong tables). This will really help with their transition from primary to a senior school.

There are five houses for day students and five for boarders, with around 60 students in each.

Saturday school will be scrapped from 2022 but the weekends will still be full, and students can partake in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme, enjoy the co-curricular activities, or play sport. In spite of the large number of day students, Worth is committed to remaining a traditional, full seven day-a-week boarding school.

Admission and fees

11+ entry into the junior school requires candidates to take an online assessment in verbal, numerical and non-verbal skills. References and reports from the current school are also a requirement.

13+ entry is via the ISEB Common pre-test, taken at the student's current prep school or at Worth, in Year 6. Worth then holds additional assessment days. The pre-test is a computer-based test consisting of English, Mathematics, Verbal and Non-Verbal Reasoning. References and reports from the candidate’s current school are also a requirement.

There is a “significant” intake at 16+ and candidates are assessed on predicted GCSE/IGCSE grades, interviews, reports and references. Candidates may also be required to submit examples of their work. Enthusiasm in co-curricular activities is also expected and encouraged

For students coming from abroad, Worth offers a one year pre-IB programme. This is designed for students aged 15 to experience a fully immersive sen-days-a-week boarding school and also to complete the core IGSEs necessary for A levels or for the IB. The student can then continue at Worth, or return to their current school. It is a rigorous year when the pupil will study the core subjects with the addition of Latin and Philosophy.

Annual tuition fees are £16,890 (Years 7-8 day fees); £25,080 (Years 9-13 day fees); and £36,480 (Years 9-13 boarding fees).

Best for

A full curriculum offering A Levels, IB and one BTEC
Co-educational boarding
Countryside education

Not for

A strong faith school, if that is not what you are looking for
Single sex education
No weekly or flexi-boarding options

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