Lancing College’s Chapel dominates the landscape, boldly announcing its presence in the peaceful countryside of the South Downs National Park. But there’s more to this school than grand Victorian buildings and superb academic record.
You can have it all at Lancing, says Headmaster Dominic Oliver, opportunities are everywhere – it’s about opening doors students didn’t even know where there.
”Lancing is about education in the broadest sense – whilst we push them to fulfil their academic potential it is also about preparing them for life, encouraging them to do things they may not have thought about before. Lancing will get the best out of students,” said Mr Oliver.
”We strive to make students into a successful person in the future in not just their career but also family life because of the values they learn here.”
Focussing on the individual is important to Lancing. ”We do not ‘cookie cutter’ people, we treat every student as an individual and give them the time, space and opportunity to grow,” said Mr Oliver. ”It’s not an exclusive place in the sense that people with all kinds of strengths – be they academic, creative, sporting or practical – come here and develop, enjoy and share a huge range of positive experiences.”
Built in 1848 by Christian educationalist Nathaniel Woodard, the senior school is set in 550 acres including its own working farm. Its stunning and ornate Chapel remains central to daily life at the school, used for gatherings as well as worship, but school is open to pupils from all religions, or none. Students join aged 13 or 16 and can take a wide range of GCSE and A level subjects.
Extensive refurbishment of original buildings is a continuing process. Science labs have been given a fresh new look. The Reeve Art School opened in 2008, a contemporary and original structure with spacious photographic and art studios, high ceilings and huge windows showing magnificent views to the sea, over surrounding farmland. Surely a perfect environment for nurturing creativity.
Rows of small practice rooms make up the Music School, with larger areas for groups to come together. There are a number of drama productions each year, and collaboration between music and drama in the form of a major musical production every two years. Usually staged in College’s own theatre, plays have also been put on in the Chapel crypt and a grand production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat was performed in the main Chapel with spectacular results. Audience members to praise the show included former pupil Sir Tim Rice.
One student said: “I’m not the best actor, but we all get a chance to be involved here, and the shows are great fun. That’s the best thing about being at a school like this. You can try everything and really enjoy being a part of it all. It’s the same with sport – I love that I can try so many different things.”
“People who are happy in their learning are productive in their learning”
Sixty per cent of the 550 pupils are boarders, split into nine houses each with their own live-in staff. Houses are a mix of age groups, with younger pupils sharing rooms between two to five, and older students each having their own study bedroom.
“We have the same room for the whole year, so we really like to make it our own,” said one pupil. “I go home just about every weekend, but this is like the other half of my bedroom – I have my photos and posters up, it’s just like home.”
Most boarders come from Sussex and surrounding counties, but there are also overseas students, with 29 nationalities coming together in the classrooms. Lessons until 6pm during the week, some day pupils opt to stay until 9pm for the evening study sessions and clinics, giving them the same level of support as the boarders. School continues on Saturday morning, with sport matches held in the afternoon.
Lancing works closely in partnership with parents and pupils to create a happy, productive environment. ”People who are happy in their learning are productive in their learning,” explained Mr Oliver.
With this recipe of academic success, strong values, first-rate pastoral care and excellent facilities, Lancing College is sure to keep its fine reputation as a leading independent school.