Northbrook College - Biggest and the best

Northbrook College, Worthing by ECE Architects

Raising aspirations is the name of the game at Northbrook College. Offering a remarkable range of courses for all ages and backgrounds, staff work tirelessly to open up pathways to success for every student.

Huge investment in recent years has brought the Worthing college buildings into the 21st century, offering state-of-the-art facilities which benefit the local community and attract degree students from across the country. Bold and dynamic new building opened at Broadwater campus last year, second phase is due to be unveiled in spring 2014 and the third in summer 2015, representing a total investment of £27 million. Improvements are also on-going at its Durrington campus, the University Centre.

College has a wide range of full and part-time courses for students aged 16-19, degree students aged 18-22, and for adults. It also works with local schools to offer vocational training for 14 to 16-year-olds. It has around 9,000 students in total, and age and background are no barrier to success. “We can take someone from a point where they can have quite low skills through to either higher education or into employment or apprenticeship,” said Principal Sue Dare. “As well as providing full-time education for school leavers, Northbrook is the biggest and best provider of apprenticeships across Sussex and the South Coastal region. Our range is very extensive and the key to our success is our focus on employment.”

“It’s a very supportive environment. I’ve learnt how to use my art to express my feeling about myself and my life and to use those feelings to make something positive.”


That emphasis on turning passions into careers is integral to all courses. Young artists and performers are taught how to raise their own profile and market themselves for freelance work, make business cards, websites, and prepare for exhibitions and auditions. Teachers with industry backgrounds have experience and contacts to help students take their first steps into the world of work. “I’m dyslexic and my teachers here have really helped me,” said one art student who is moving into a degree-level course. “I can get my notes on blue paper because I find I can read that more easily, and if I ever have problems with anything the teachers are there to help, or I can go to learning support. I used to do Manga art but I’ve been pushed outside my comfort zone, to try different styles to express myself. It’s been really great.” Another student added: “It’s a very supportive environment. I’ve learnt how to use my art to express my feeling about myself and my life and to use those feelings to make something positive.” Art courses cover everything from jewellery and textiles to fashion, with students winning national prizes including at Graduate Fashion Week in London.

College works closely with local industry to ensure students are gaining skills employers need. Sectors of particular interest in Sussex are health and social care, construction, and aeronautics – college has a third campus based at Shoreham airport which specialises in aircraft and motor engineering. Facilities for mechanical and manufacturing engineering are highly respected. A teacher said: “We’re getting on to be unique in Sussex for the work we can do here. We kept our equipment when many other colleges were coming under pressure to scale down their departments. We have continued to offer the highest level of training, and employers are impressed when they come here and see that our standards are as high as their own in the workplace.”

Outstanding reputation

Photo_2Business and professional services are popular and Northbrook has an outstanding reputation in these fields. Staff also provide training in the workplace across a range of sectors, and work with Jobcentre Plus providing advice and skills training to help people back into jobs. That work has expanded out from Worthing across Sussex.

Construction training covers everything from bricklaying and carpentry to electrical work, workshops replicating those found in the workplace.

Fully equipped professional theatre with 200 seats is used for college productions and training. As well as performance courses, students can study set and costume design, stage management and theatrical hair and make-up. “As with all our courses, the aim is for students to learn in a real working environment,” said college spokesman Shelley Jarrett. “Our theatre, restaurant, hair and beauty salons are all open to the public giving practical hands-on experience.” Students clearly enjoy this type of learning. “I’m starting my first job in a salon and I’ll be doing everything that I’ve been learning at college,” said one beauty therapy student. “Everyone on our course knows what they’ll be doing when they finish, whether it’s going into work or staying here to do another course. We have a lot of help and support choosing our next steps.”

“We offer vocational training that can take people from the age of 14 right through to degree level, and that’s been a key factor in our success.”

Sue Dare

Music block has an exceptional range of state-of-the-art equipment, drawing students from around the country to study performance and production. The building houses rows of sound-proofed pods for recording and mixing, as well as larger rehearsal and lesson rooms. Teachers provide invaluable support for budding talent, using their contacts to introduce students to industry insiders. College also has its own record label and rooms are open in the evenings for students keen to work on their own projects.

“At a time when other college’s have seen numbers go down, ours have gone up,” said Principal Sue Dare. “We offer vocational training that can take people from the age of 14 right through to degree level, and that’s been a key factor in our success. We raise aspirations and give them to skills they need to enjoy the best possible future.”

With one eye on the needs of students and the other on requirements of local employers, Northbrook has continued its success through challenging economic times and is sure to remain at the top of its game.

Note from the Head

Northbrook College is the principal provider of work-related education in an area centred on the south coast town of Worthing. The College offers both Further Education (age 16-18) and Higher Education (university level). Northbrook is notably the largest provider of higher education for the creative and cultural industries in West Sussex. The College additionally has contracts for Apprenticeship training and Adult Learning.

Northbrook College was formed in 1986 when the West Sussex College of Art and Design (founded 1912) merged with two other colleges: Worthing College of Technology and Chelsea College of Aeronautical Engineering (originally founded 1924).

Across its two campuses in Worthing, the College houses well-equipped studios and workshops for design, craft and engineering courses as well as a professional theatre, a working restaurant, a newly refurbished hair & beauty salon and state-of-the-art music recording studios. In addition, Northbrook has a third campus at Shoreham Airport, specialising in aircraft and motor vehicle engineering, where the College houses its own seven aircraft and several motor vehicles, including both road and race cars.

Northbrook’s courses are employment focused and aim to simulate the real workplace. A survey in 2012 showed that 96% of Northbrook’s further education students go on to either employment or higher education. The College prides itself on the industry relevance of its courses and the career successes of its graduates. Many courses have been developed with the endorsement of professional bodies. Most lecturers and tutors are current or past practitioners in their fields and can offer students first-hand knowledge of employers’ expectations.

The majority of school leavers join Northbrook’s full-time courses, but some will instead opt to learn through apprenticeships. Apprenticeships mean students can gain qualifications through a combination of paid work and part-time study, attending the College on one day per week and training in the workplace for the rest of the week. Northbrook’s apprenticeship success rates have been above national benchmarks.

Sue Dare


“Northbrook College has given me confidence and I have been able to gain a great qualification helping me secure a great job".

"I've had a very positive experience at Northbrook. I have learnt about the industry and I find this college much more motivated and professional than previous experiences".

“I want to thank my tutors for helping me decide what I want to do after college and helping me apply for my degree as well as helping me gain work experience".

School details

Address: Littlehampton Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN12 6NU
Phone: 0845 155 6060
Head: Sue Dare
Founded: 1983
Pupils: 9,000
Ages: 16+
Prospectus: N/A
Additional information:

Other campuses below:

Broadwater Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 8HJ

Shoreham Airport, Shoreham By Sea, West Sussex BN43 5FF