Choosing a school for your children is a huge decision. It’s one that will almost certainly affect their future, their outlook on life and indeed, their happiness. Parents always want what’s best for their children, and often it is very hard when looking at different schools in the area to decide which one is the right one for you and your family. Some have an excellent academic reputation, some excel at sports or the arts. Others have a reputation for being kind and nurturing and instilling good morals in their pupils. Of course some do all of the above. Each child is different and their skills, interests and abilities are going to play a huge part in where you send them, and quite often they have their own opinion on the matter as well! Below we have listed some notable Brighton state schools which will hopefully give you a better understanding on what’s on offer, and help with your decision of where to send your child.
Brighton State Schools
This vibrant grammar school is located in Hemmel Hempstead. It first opened its doors in 1955 (then known as Apsley Grammar School) as part of a huge redevelopment of the area. Its motto is rather charmingly, ‘Rejoice in thy Youth’ and it certainly tries to do that with its impressive range of sports, arts, music and dance classes available. It’s also noted as being a specialist academy for computing and mathematics with an emphasis on ICT. This is reflected in the Virtual Learning System that was set up in 2007, where student work can be uploaded and students and teachers can liaise online.
Longdean school has also proudly provided education for several pupils whose names you might recognise including Jamie O’Shea – Nobel peace prize winning philanthropist, and the professional football player Chris Jake Howells!
Longdean has been included in the Government scheme to invest £2 billion into developing schools across the country. Longdean has been included because of its older buildings. However the specific details of the development have yet to be finalised.
Vardean School, founded in 1884 is one of Brighton’s largest schools. It was the first school to specialise in Technology and is now classed as a high performing specialist school for Technology, Music, and Applied Leaning.
It has been through many changes over the years, most recently increasing its accommodation and adding to its facilities several Maths Rooms, a Music Suite and greater PE facilities including a Dance Studio, Fitness Suite, Sports Hall and astro-turf pitch.
Prominent alumni include Steve Ovett – Olympic Gold Medallist for middle distance running, Tommy Fraser and Russell Martin –both professional footballers, and Paul Scofield – Academy Award winning actor who starred in A Man for All Seasons.
Vardean school is the only school to have twice been graded ‘Outstanding’ by Ofstead and therefore was added to their roll of honour in 2005.
Pathcham High School is yet another School in the local area that has been awarded specialist status, this time in Arts and Media. Its current head teacher, Paula Sargent describes the school as a ‘Vibrant and exciting place of learning’, and their motto ‘INSPIRE’ stands for:
Never give up trying to achieve
Support our community
Promote life-long learning
The school was founded in 1990 when Margaret Hardy school for girls and Patcham Fawcett school for boys were amalgamated. On its last Ofsted inspection the school achieved a rating of ‘GOOD’ overall.
This school has around 1600 pupils all led by head teacher Richard Bradford. Its specialism is in Sports and it shares its campus with Varndean school. The school is noted particularly for its environmental care, having been awarded the ‘Green Flag’ award in 1998 for its focus on recycling and careful use of energy. The staff and pupils also care for the grounds by planting flowers to support insect life, and promoting the biodiversity of the woodland that surrounds the school.
For pupils who love sports this is the place to go. Having been awarded specialist status for sports in 2002 the school has gone from strength to strength with regards to its sporting achievements. The facilities on offer are second to none with a huge sports hall, dance studio, and gym. The school owns an outdoor activities centre in Wales which allows for pupils to go on school trips there. As well as this the school took on the responsibility of promoting the benefits of sports education to other local primary schools as well. It is also part of the Healthy School initiative.
The last Ofsted report rated the school ‘Outstanding’ in its overall effectiveness.
The comprehensive school was formed in 1979 from Hove County Grammar School merging with Knoll Boys School, and Nevill County Secondary School. This school is particularly noted for its attention to the arts and technology. It has received awards in several disciplines including the Sportsmark 2006 Education and Skills Rewarding Commitment award, as well as being part of the Healthy Schools initiative.
Although there have been recent improvements to exam grades with the school achieving above the national average in 2012, Blatchington Mill School and Sixth Form College were both inspected by Ofsted during February 2010 with disappointing results. The school was rated as “satisfactory” with a “good” capability to improve. The Sixth Form College however was assessed as “Inadequate”.
It was of course home to the notorious Katie Price, as well as professional footballers, Michael Standing and Gareth Barry. The Rizzle Kicks, Jordan Stephens also attended the school from 2003-208.
BACA is by far the most modern of schools on our list being a mere 3 years old, having opened in September 2010. The school took over from Falmer High school and is located on Lewes Road in the City of Brighton. The school specialises in sports –having partnered itself with Sussex Country Cricket club. In fact it even offers a Cricket Academy 6th form, where talented pupils who wish to pursue a career in Cricket are encouraged to focus and develop in that, while also gaining academic qualifications alongside it. There is a also definite focus on a more modern style of learning here. It engages its pupils with a creative curriculum tailored to suit the needs of each individual.
Of course visiting the schools websites, talking to other parents and taking a tour round the schools themselves will give you a much better feel for the place, and will help enable you to make the decision of whether to send your child there. Luckily Brighton and Hove and the surrounding areas offer plenty of excellent schools and colleges with different areas of expertise, so whatever your child’s interests and talents you will be sure to find the right school both for them and for you.
Image courtesy of elsie @ Flickr.