HAPPY is a word constantly used by staff and pupils alike at Lancing College Preparatory School at Hove – and they genuinely are.
Smiling faces greet you at every door, children are relaxed and confident, absorbed in their learning. Wherever my year 8 tour guide took me he spontaneously recalled genuine moments of joy and happiness during his time at the school.
From building rocket cars in DT to using Bunsen burners in science, from “the best” form tutor to the “cool” RS teacher who proclaims `the only way is ethics’ to the history teacher who brought the subject alive, tales of loving school were abundant.
Starting in the delightful nursery housed in the neighbouring bungalow through to the fantastic music rooms tucked away in the roof of the old school house, there is a relaxed feeling where children are keen to learn.
Lots of green outdoor space creates a calming spacious environment for a school in the heart of a bustling seaside city.
New head Kirsty Keep explained Lancing Prep at Hove’s special quality: “Lancing Prep is a school with a vein of goodness running through it and that’s what makes it different. The children know each other and care for each other and that can be seen every break time and lunch time. The school feels like one big family.
“It is a school that has ethics and philosophy at the heart of what it does. Children have space to develop and grow as individuals. Lancing Prep at Hove is a school with a sense of morality but one that is very much in the modern world.”
A new multi-purpose building is currently under construction. This state-of-the-art space for assemblies, dining, indoor sports, music and drama performances is the beginning of a phase of projects that will create an exciting new future for the school.
Lancing Prep at Hove is a school that vows to grab a child’s interest and ability and develop it to its highest possible level; it wants children to have the confidence to give things a go and not be afraid to go wrong and make mistakes.
Someone once described Lancing Prep at Hove as “a community of learning, rather than a school”. Everyone is encouraged to contribute, from the children through to teachers, staff and parents – it’s all about being part of one big family.
“Children here are very outward looking,” explained Mrs Keep. “These children appreciate they are very lucky to be at a school like this but they look beyond this school to the world outside and engage with it. Lancing Hove is a very well rounded school.”
As a newcomer to the school Mrs Keep is not blowing her own trumpet when it comes to singing its’ praises. “The one thing that astonished me is that this is a school where there is space – not just physical in the large site we have but space in the pupils’ days for them to let off steam and to be children,” she explained. “There is space in their timetable for them to run, space to play and space to have down time from being in a structured learning environment and classroom. They truly get to be children. I quickly came to realise how unbelievably precious that space was.”
Proudly a mixed ability, non-selective school, children are prepared for Common Entrance and academic scholarships. They are challenged academically so they achieve their best but to ensure every pupil finds what they excel at great importance is also placed on art, drama, music and sport.
Timetabled day runs from 8.25am-4.30pm but pupils can chose to stay for an extra hour to do homework or join one of the many activities on offer including music clubs, sailing and sports clubs. Ninety-nine percent of extracurricular activities are included in the fees.
Kitchen forms the heart of any home and the dining hall is at the heart of Lancing Prep at Hove – pupils all sit at tables with a member of staff and freshly prepared food is brought to the table and served. Chatter fills the hall as children and staff share tales. Snacks and fruit are also provided for the children at break times.
There could be no better advert for the school than the charming, confident prefect who showed me around. If his happy demeanour is anything to go by, Lancing College Preparatory School at Hove is definitely getting the academic and pastoral balance right, giving its children a great start in life.