Bede's - Energy, movement and dynamism

Excellence for everyone and specialism without compromise are strong messages at Bede’s. This ambitious, inclusive independent school strives for holistic achievement and also offers outstanding facilities.

Set in 175 acres of stunning Weald countryside, Bede’s houses 800 students split between 10 houses where pastoral care is second to none. 300 students board including 120 from overseas.

Headmaster Peter Goodyer says school life is about ensuring all pupils have an equally fulfilling experience. “Those children who excel and want to specialise in cricket, tennis or dance have the coaching they need to reach the top. But plenty of pupils not in that elite still have the same opportunities and experiences. Everyone will excel at something: we’re not a sausage factory merely grinding out good results. Staff know every pupil and know them well, so they can find the best approach for each of them.”

This holistic philosophy is popular with parents, and now academic results are soaring. A-level results have improved by 15% in three years with nearly three-quarters graded at A*-B, outperforming many overtly selective independent schools.

Great care is taken to help pupils choose the right path. Principal Deputy Head Jerry Lewis says, “We find out what makes pupils tick and make sure they all achieve their potential. This is a school full of energy, movement and dynamism.”

The older Bede’s Prep School is based in nearby Eastbourne while the Senior School has evolved around the original manor house at Upper Dicker, moving from open fires and wood panelling to contemporary interiors. The campus architecturally mirrors the surrounding village. Fields reach the horizon, providing sports pitches alongside tennis courts and a golf course. A new Multi-Purpose Games Area and water-basedastro as well as cricket pavilion will soon be launchedHuge Sports Complex boasts squash courts, gym and swimming pool, well used by all pupils and open to local residents and alumni. Modern Science Block contains numerous labs, lecture theatre and observatory for night-time lessons. The Art School is recognised as one of the best in the country and the media and film departments are very well equipped.

Bede’s Drama department and Legat School of Dance, the oldest residential dance school in the country, offer excellent training. “We experience every type of dance you can think of, and it’s a very demanding programme,” one dancer said. “We can sing and be involved in music as well, and study academic as well as creative subjects. It’s tough and you have to be very committed, but it’s great.”

The bonus of Bede’s is such gifts are polished without compromising on academic education; over 70 courses are on offer, including Cambridge Pre-U, traditional A Levels and GCSES and BTECS, allowing all students to find a love for academia regardless of perceived ability.

Action-packed days

Fun and challenging activities are built into the daily timetable, with 130 to choose from. “You can do pretty much anything you can think of,” a Sixth Former said. “Diving, windsurfing, sewing, first aid, cooking, sailing. A friend of mine discovered she was really good at shooting. She found a talent she didn’t know she had.”

Bede’s one-of-a-kind Animal Management Centre houses weird and wonderful creatures; snakes, birds, guinea pigs, aquaria and even a skunk. Students learn how to handle, feed, look after them and can gain a BTEC qualification in addition to breeding endangered species after school.

Drama productions are big business with 11-12 each year, from small studio pieces to an all-school show. “The drama space is really incredible,” said one student who’s been so inspired he’s heading on to drama college. “We really use it to its full potential and that’s down to our amazing teachers. They are the beating heart of the drama department.”

The newest boarding houses are light with vibrant decor and spacious open-plan communal areas, recognised by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors as having outstanding design and innovation. Other dormitories resemble family homes. “I’ve boarded here for five years,” said one student. “I live an hour away so I could go home, but I much prefer to stay here where I have my friends and all the facilities at my fingertips.”

“We’re a values-based school, but the ideas and energy for our community projects have come from pupils, and it’s wonderful to see.”

Peter Goodyer

Charity and community projects have flourished in recent years with students working with local care homes and primary schools. Headmaster Peter Goodyer said: “We’re a values-based school, but the ideas and energy for our community projects have come from pupils, and it’s wonderful to see.”

Students give their teachers glowing reports. “They’re always happy to give you extra help at break, lunch or after school,” one student said. “If I need to do extra work I can get the late bus home at 7pm. I know my grades will be good because I’ve had that support. Every subject and department is taken seriously, there’s no feeling that it’s better to be good at one thing than another.”

If all that isn’t enough to impress discerning parents, the school has another highlight, summed up by one amazed visitor who exclaimed, “This is the cleanest school I’ve ever seen!”  Top marks for Bede’s.

Note from the Head

Bede’s inspires young people to achieve in every facet of their educational experience. We place the individual and their passions at the heart of what we do.

Our pupils are encouraged to go beyond their academic successes to develop as whole people. We engage them in pursuits that liberate their creativity and talents, revealing their pathways to future success.

Bede’s philosophy of breadth and excellence in the academic curriculum as well as our range of cultural, aesthetic, intellectual and sporting activities outside the classroom serves our pupils’ uniqueness very well. Most importantly, these enriching experiences are open to everyone and not just an elite few.

Education, if it is to be truly effective, should encourage every young person to participate and ensure that, as the whole person develops, the efforts of each individual are recognised and celebrated.

We place the development of values at the heart of school life. Young people need the opportunity to experiment, embrace responsibility, lead, succeed and, because we learn more from adversity, venture beyond where they are comfortable.

Pupils, teachers and parents all have roles to play in the Bede’s community, and we encourage everyone to set their sights high.

Our aim is for each child to make an outstanding contribution in all aspects of their lives: in school, in the local community and the wider world.

We will do everything we can to make that happen.

Peter Goodyer


"I remember when I came to Bede’s from St Aubyns. I was so shy and nervous, but I had a really warm reception. It sounds really cheesy, but I don’t know how else to say it – I found myself here."
Helen Clements, student, L6.

"I’ve been at Bede’s for five years. The best thing about it is the way the school makes time for me to do the things I’m passionate about. It’s not about fitting in at Bede’s. There will be a trumpeter sat next to a maths genius, and that reflects me and who I am. I don’t fit into a niche, and I appreciate that Bede’s allows me to revel in the knowledge that my future is undefined."
Olivia Prince-Smith, student, L5.

"On my first day at Bede’s, the big question on my mind was … Who am I? When I started senior school, I had no idea of the person I wanted to become, and Bede’s has helped me discover who that person is."
Annabel Martirossian, student, U5.

School details

Address: Upper Dicker, East Sussex, BN27 3QH
Phone: 01323 843252
Head: Peter Goodyer
Founded: 1979
Pupils: 771. Day: 298 boys, 179 girls; Boarding: 173 boys, 121 girls
Ages: 13-18
Prospectus: Request a Prospectus