Absence of grammar schools in the county means the best secondary schools are often oversubscribed, so it’s important to know the oversubscription criteria via West Sussex County Council. Our guide to secondary school admissions aims to answer questions you might have about the entire process. Many secondary schools in the county finish at year 11 (aged 16) after which most students go on to sixth form college.
State secondary schools in Chichester
This beautiful city has some outstanding and heavily oversubscribed, non-selective, comprehensives worth moving for. Bishop Luffa School (a Church of England school) produces impressive GCSE and A level results. Prospective parents and offspring need to be regular churchgoers for two continuous years; one parent told our reviewer, ‘Go from year 3 to be sure of it!’ Another popular faith school is St Philip Howard Catholic School which sits within the top 10 per cent nationally for Progress 8. Another impressive option is Midhurst Rother College, within the South Downs National Park. Pupils head off to Russell Group universities and a few to Oxbridge.
State secondary schools in East Grinstead & Crawley
Not a great deal to choose from on the state secondary front if academics are a priority. That aside, these schools remain popular and are satisfactory options.
Hazelwick School, Crawley receives the highest number of first-choice applications in this area; a reflection of above average academic performance. The Gatwick School is also very popular and is well respected. Sackville School, and less subscribed Imberhorne School both in East Grinstead have very good local reputations and produce satisfactory results.
State secondary schools in Haywards Heath
The revered Warden Park Secondary Academy is perceived as the best state school in the area. Living within the catchment is key to securing a place and house prices reflect this. Strong sibling policy and a handy bus service for those living in Bolney or Balcombe. Oathall Community College’s results aren’t quite as strong as its rival, but it does have its own school farm. Both schools finish at year 11 and feed The College of Richard Collyer, Horsham.
Ten minutes south in Burgess Hill, St Paul’s Catholic College has a large sixth form (350 pupils) meaning the stress of moving to a sixth form college is removed. Priority is given to practising Catholic families. The school is generally in the top ten per cent of secondary schools nationally, for GCSE and A level results. In nearby Hassocks, Downlands Community School’s academic performance is well-above average, and the school is consistently oversubscribed.
State secondary schools in Horsham
Moving onto Comptons Lane and its surrounds should guarantee your daughter a place at Millais Secondary School, an all-girls school up to year 11. The school has its own playing fields and a modern dance studio, with many opting for dance GCSE. An aspirational vibe, too, judging from the impressive alumni this reviewer has met – a school on our watch list.
Former all-boys school The Forest School is now fully co-ed and has a sparkling new business and development centre, as well as a sizeable indoor sports hall, and plenty of outdoor pitches, including all-weather ones.
Bohunt Horsham opened its doors in 2019, on an enormous site north of Horsham. Playing fields aplenty, brand new purpose-built teaching blocks and an 'Excellent head,’ according to current parents.
West of Horsham and serving the villages of Broadbridge Heath, Slinfold, Warnham and Ichingfield is Tanbridge House School. An excellent reputation, always oversubscribed, it is in the country’s top ten per cent of secondary schools for GCSE and A level results Successful admission boils down to geography.
The Weald Community School and Sixth Form College, Billingshurst sits on a 25-acre rural site, and academic results are above the national average. Unlike its Horsham-based rivals, the school has a sixth form.
State secondary schools in Worthing
St Oscar Romero Catholic School, Goring-by-Sea is the number one choice for applicants from observant Catholic and Christian families in the area and is heavily oversubscribed. East of Worthing is Shoreham Academy, often mistaken for a fee-paying school, such is its local reputation and facilities. The school’s repeatedly impressive exam results are the main draw, and most pupils make the move into its sixth form.
Worth moving into the area for is non-selective (despite its name) state boarding school Steyning Grammar. The school has two campuses (Tower Rd and Rock Rd), ten minutes apart. The Rock Rd campus has four boarding houses (selective, and boarding fees apply). West Sussex County Council controls all year 7 admissions, and the school has two large, designated catchment area for this entry point from two localities. School handles its own admissions from year 8.
Worthing High School boasts state-of-the-art, recently built, science, dance and fitness facilities and if you’re after a single-sex option in the area Davison Church of England High School for Girls is nurturing, with a strong sibling policy and academic record.
Sixth Form Colleges in West Sussex
There’s a growing national trend for private school pupils to leave after GCSEs and go to sixth form college, in the belief that it may maximise chances of getting into Oxbridge and other top universities. To guard against this practice, The College of Richard Collyer in Horsham, ensures priority is given to children coming from its partner schools (The Forest School, The Gatwick School, Millais School, Oathall Community College, St Oscar Romero Catholic School, Tanbridge House School, and Warden Park Secondary Academy). Children from partner schools are guaranteed a place at Collyer’s subject to minimum admissions criteria and a formal interview.
Increasingly popular options, thanks to the wide range of subjects on offer are: The Weald Community School Sixth Form, Shoreham Academy Sixth Form and Steyning Grammar Sixth Form. All accept new applicants for sixth form subject to minimum entry requirements based on GCSE results.
With many secondary schools in the area ending after year 11, reading up on sixth form colleges early on is essential.
State secondaries for children with special educational needs in West Sussex
Secondary schools with SSC provision include Worthing High School, where 18 places are reserved for children with social communication needs, with interventions including emotional regulation and speech and language therapy.
The Angmering School, Littlehampton has a large learning development centre for children with SEN, together with the Lavinia Norfolk Centre which caters for physical and sensory difficulties, including autism.
All-through and Secondary Special schools include: Fordwater School, Chichester, provides support for children with complex learning difficulties, autism and epilepsy aged two to 19, with in-house therapies. St Anthony’s School, Chichester is for children aged five to 16 and supports specific learning difficulties, language needs and autism.
Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee School, Horsham is a special school which caters for children with severe learning difficulties from aged two to 19, including physical, medical and complex needs.
Specialist through-school Woodlands Meed College, Burgess Hill supports children with a range of needs, including autism, learning difficulties and complex needs. No child travels more than an hour to school