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Best private schools in Chichester

Best private schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Best private schools in Haywards Heath

Best private schools in Horsham

Best private schools in Worthing

Special Educational Needs

Best private schools in West Sussex - Christ's Hospital SchoolThe county's private school scene plays host to an abundance of good prep and pre-prep schools. Increasingly, secondary schools, day and boarding, are using the ISEB pre-test as part of their admissions process and use Common Entrance (CE) for setting purposes. Many prep schools have replaced their CE syllabus with a curriculum more aligned to GCSE foundations.

School buses have made schools in neighbouring counties more accessible, Brighton College, Roedean and Brighton Girls in East Sussex, and Reigate Grammar and Cranleigh School in Surrey, proving the most popular for West Sussex families.

Private Schools in Chichester

Prep schools in Chichester

Westbourne House School should be on your must-visit list: increasingly an all-rounder school where, we were told, ‘It’s cool to be clever, cool to be into music, cool to be into drama.’ Majority head off to Seaford, Hurst, Brighton College, Portsmouth Grammar and Lancing. Canford School (see our guide to Dorset) seems most popular boarding option. A smaller school in the town centre is The Prebendal School, ‘Very traditional, but the thinking is new,’ shared a parent. Leavers tend towards Lancing College, Great Ballard School, Portsmouth Grammar School, Seaford College, King Edward’s Witley and Tonbridge School. A small number leave after year 6 for state schools. Known locally for its excellent pastoral care and SEN provision, Seaford College Prep School, Wilberforce House is in the stunning South Downs National Park and feeds onto the main college after year 6. Sportier types might head to the border with Surrey and Hampshire to Highfield & Brookham Schools with its acres of playing fields, 9-hole golf course, 20-metre indoor pool, sports hall, squash court and mirrored dance and drama studio.

The nursery, pre-prep and prep school at Great Ballard School (an all-through-school) is worth looking at, where tree-climbing and playing in the woods are commonplace. Oakwood School is another out-of-town option, our reviewer commenting ‘There is a spectrum of ability and wealth here, some parents describing their choice to establish strong roots at Oakwood, before progressing to a state secondary school.’

Secondary schools in Chichester

Seaford College offers day, weekly and flexi options and early application is a must with waiting lists for a few year groups. The main building is simply magnificent and set in the stunning South Downs National Park, a 20-minute drive northeast of Chichester. Known for its excellent SEN provision, all-rounders and the gifted-and-talented would also fly here.

Best state primary schools in Chichester

Best state secondary schools in Chichester

Best nurseries in Chichester

Private schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Prep schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Brambletye School, a kind and gentle school which truly delivers on providing a bespoke education. Parents say it’s, ‘Incredibly well run,’ also commending its ‘warmth and kindness.’ No Saturday school here, but there are some weekend fixtures. Around half of children are day pupils. School hosts an annual senior schools’ fair and head’s focus is on the ‘right fit’.

Cottesmore School is popular with international, expat and London families, a full-boarding outfit with Saturday school and fixed exeats every other weekend. Local day children account for 40 per cent of the cohort, though. Many trot off to Eton, Marlborough, Radley and Sherborne but nearby private day schools increasingly de rigueur. 

Secondary schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Despite its traditional full-boarding roots, Worth School is becoming a solid day option for those who live within an hour, and you don’t have to be Catholic to attend, although faith is a huge part of the ethos. Only a third of pupils are girls, but, as one parent put it, ‘[They] keep the boys on their toes.'

Best state primary schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Best state secondary schools in East Grinstead & Crawley

Best nurseries in East Grinstead & Crawley

Private schools in Horsham

Prep Schools in Horsham

South of Horsham, at the foot of the South Downs, is the imposing Queen Anne building that is Windlesham House School. The largest prep school in the county, it offers full boarding, flexi and day options and has made Saturday school optional. Our reviewer found that children seemed genuinely happy and love their school, a parent shared how ‘the school had brought the best out of her three, very different, children.’

Secondary schools in Horsham

Just south of Horsham is Christ’s Hospital. Well-known locally for its quirky uniform (long black tunics for all) and marching band. The school operates a generous means-tested bursary scheme which allows for pupils from a range of backgrounds. Only 17 per cent of families pay the full fees and school uniform is free to all. Nearly all children are full or weekly boarders.

Best state primary schools in Horsham

Best state secondary schools in Horsham

Best nurseries in Horsham

Private schools in Haywards Heath

Prep schools in Haywards Heath

South of Haywards Heath, Hurstpierpoint College Preparatory School, or Hurst Prep as it’s known, shares the 140-acre site of the senior school and its facilities. Nearly all children move onto the College at 13+. Places at the senior school are oversubscribed by three to one, so entering the school at prep level might be a canny way of securing a spot at the main college. Most from the prep continue to the senior school.

Nestled in glorious countryside is Ardingly College Prep which one parents tells us ‘Has an all-round ethos.’ A place here is a sure way of bagging a spot at the senior school, too (vast majority of children remain at the college until 18).

Punching above its weight on the local prep school sports circuit is Great Walstead School.

Secondary schools in Haywards Heath

Hurstpierpoint College, or ‘Hurst’ as it’s fondly known, has a local reputation for being impossible to get in to. Such is the demand, the school has upped the ante on academics, and it’s no longer seen as a back-up choice for those who miss a place at more famous public schools. Registering your interest as early as possible and going on a school tour is a must. A similar proposition and perhaps one to rival Hurst is Ardingly College with its handsome red-brick Gothic revival buildings, alongside utilitarian red-brick new. ‘Community is vital here and pupils need to participate: no loners, even high performing ones; everyone is busy and involved,’ penned our reviewer. 

Non-selective Burgess Hill Girls is a single-sex option in the centre of Burgess Hill producing some impressive results from its broad intake.

Best state primary schools in Haywards Heath

Best state secondary schools in Haywards Heath

Best nurseries in Haywards Heath

Private schools in Worthing

Lancing College chapel choirPrep schools in Worthing

Set in a wisteria-clad, Georgian manor house is Lancing Prep Worthing (known as Little Lancing). Parents praise the teachers for ‘going that extra mile,’ says our review and the parent community is said to be very supportive and involved.

‘A kind, gentle school, which has a certain magic that raises the children’s game and gives them the confidence to aim high,’ said a parent of Lancing Prep Hove, the in-town sibling of Little Lancing. Over half of children leave Lancing Prep (both campuses) to go onto Lancing College.

Secondary schools in Worthing

Perched on a hill overlooking Worthing, with vast views out to sea sits Lancing College. The school’s iconic chapel is hard to miss from the A27 and there remains a strong Christian ethos. Our reviewer remarked, ‘Lancing is less punishingly selective than (at least one of) its nearby competitors and this is reflected in its results, which are nonetheless very creditable’. Set in 11-acres between the sea and the South Downs, in a charming Tudor manor house is Shoreham College. Children can start aged three and go through to 16 before heading off to good local sixth form colleges or private schools. 

Best state primary schools in Worthing

Best state secondary schools in Worthing

Best nurseries in Worthing

Private schools for children with special educational needs in West Sussex

Many children with special needs enjoy mainstream independent schools but there are also some great specialist schools in the county. 

Best provision in a mainstream private school can be found at Seaford College, where mild to moderate dyslexic pupils are catered for. ‘More severe needs provided for too if a child shows a high IQ or good underlying ability,’ says our reviewer. 

Deep in the countryside north of Horsham is Muntham House School, a boys’ all-through specialist school, for autism, ADHD and social, emotional and mental health difficulties. Children start aged five and follow different pathways, including some taking GCSE and BTecs in sixth form.

Over the border into Surrey is Moon Hall School, Reigate, a mainstream school that specialises in teaching children with specific learning differences, including dyslexia, dyspraxia and dyscalculia. Pupils can join aged seven and stay until 18, benefitting from the intense dyslexia support and fine array of art and sporting facilities in the grade-two listed house.

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