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What says..

The children are focused and engaged, polite and sparky – aware of the regular exams and what hangs on them since this is an academically ambitious school. There's no doubt they have an enormous amount of fun too; the teaching is inspiring and embellished with plenty of non-curriculum activities….

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What the school says...

A vibrant, all-action family school, Brighton College Prep School is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and its high standard of pastoral care. We want our pupils both to enjoy school and to be inspired to achieve their full potential. Drawing upon our own outstanding resources, as well as those of the senior school, we provide a very wide range of opportunities and ensure that these are underpinned, always, with the greatest support and encouragement.

We aim to help each pupil to build a warm and strong character. The pursuit of whole-hearted effort is our priority; whilst the school praises and encourages high standards of achievement. We believe that what you are is even more important than what you achieve.

The prep school provides a superb, all-round education that stimulates, challenges and captivates. The excellent academic curriculum is complemented by a wealth of sport, music, creative and performing arts and a wide range of extra-curricular activities; trips, activities and competitions abound. Most of our pupils transfer to Brighton College Senior School.
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What The Good Schools Guide says


Since 2013, Harry Hastings (40s), came from eight years at Cumnor House, where he was assistant head, head of history, director of sport and plays. Energetic, enthusiastic and entrepreneurial, in his last year there, he created Harry Hastings’ History Heroes, a cross between Top Trumps and Trivial Pursuit, sparked by a quiz played to occupy kids on history trips. He’s sold it now, relieved to be once more focussed on his school full time – but it’s a good example of his skill at coming up with creative solutions and ensuring they stick. His introduction to teaching was through gapping at his old prep, and his path to this first headship has led him through Exeter and Oxford Universities, a prep in Devon, Peponi House in Kenya and the Dragon School. Has a good support network of other teachers he’s befriended along the way (now heads themselves) and has grounded himself with sport, both playing (Greyhounds at Oxford) and supporting. Passionate about rugby and athletics (always seen at the national championships with clipboard, stopwatch, radio and English Schools tie) and loves golf ('18 handicap … in summer holidays').

Kate, his wife, is a consultant anaesthetist at the county hospital down the road, and they have three children, two at the prep school and one at the pre-prep. They commute in seven miles from near Lewes – at present by car, but he intends to cycle or run eventually. Is a great believer in finding space for peace and reflection in a busy life; one of his first actions as the new head of BCPS was to ensure the prep school kids are in silence as they snake in single file across the road to the main college. Initially, they thought they were being punished but the head feels being reflective is the unofficial 10th item in the BCPS code of conduct.

He feels very supported and privileged to be the headmaster of such ‘extraordinary, brilliant and different children – beautifully mannered, fun, bright, interested and interesting, all wanting the best for each other.’ They certainly greeted him charmingly and creatively; the responses to his request for a postcard over the summer are plastered over the hall walls, some in different languages, one with a ‘postage stamp’ made from a photo of the senior school’s head. He knows all 300 children by name, greets them outside each morning, rain or shine, and teaches year 7 history, three times a week.

Moving on in December 2017 to head Ardingly College Prep. His successor will be John Weeks, currently head of the London Academy of Excellence, and previously deputy head of Brighton College. He read economics at Durham then qualified as a teacher of mathematics at Sheffield University. He arrived at Brighton College soon afterwards, first as a maths teacher then as housemaster, as well as head of year and head of maths, before becoming deputy head.

Pre-prep head since 2010 is Jo Williams, previously head of year 2 at Tanglin Trust School in Singapore. Alumna of University of Plymouth, head of early years foundation stage and then PE and girls' games at Oakwood School. Meets with head of prep weekly, phone calls and emails in between, he attends pre-prep open mornings and their staff share INSET days.


Into pre-prep at 3+ (nursery) and 6+ (when third form is added, year 2 entry). Into prep at 8+ by assessment in maths, English and verbal reasoning plus observation (internal pupils have to sit English and maths exams). Special arrangements for dyslexic pupils, with recent educational psychologist’s report. There’s a waiting list. Pupils come from the state sector and private schools (lots of the girls from single sex schools) and the staff also have experience of both. Some 98 per cent of those that leave the pre-prep school come through to the prep. Travel via the same buses that serve the senior school – a third of the prep school children live in town, a third from Hove and the rest come from Lewes, Worthing, Shoreham, Hassocks etc.


Some 80+ per cent to Brighton College, although they have to take CE on a par with outsiders, with a pass mark of 55 per cent in maths and English and 60 per cent in all other subjects. The rest mostly to St Bede's, Roedean, Hurst, Lancing or Worth. If your child seems like they’re not going to make the CE pass mark for the senior school then form teachers/head may well encourage going for another school rather than taking a punt on good luck on the day - so as to avoid a feeling of failure, About four children each academic year leave early, 50 per cent financial reasons, 50 per cent deciding to settle into a school that is not so academically ambitious, with advice from BCPS. We have reports of the year 3 prep school assessment assuming increasing importance, with many pupils having a tutor; parents of children struggling academically - many of whom chose the school because of its excellent learning support - will be warned in year 2 that the prep school might not be suitable.

Our view

Compact busy campus, just one block to the east of the senior school and the two are very closely linked – the little ones walk across in reflective silence for lunch, chapel and games; both schools have the same shape of the day. The children are focused and engaged, polite and sparky – the eldest ones very aware of regular exams and what hangs on them (including those to graduate from the pre-prep to the prep). ‘Why are we doing this when it has nothing to do with CE?’ asked one, when being taught some tools for writing an essay. The head uses a metaphor for twice yearly exams as series of little hurdles rather than the Grand National. The achievement grades have been rejigged recently, aiming for more transparency in the comparison of these and common entrance percentages; it may feel a bit bumpy initially for the kids who are struggling to hit the marks necessary for entry to the senior school, but the head is convinced of the importance of clear communication and welcomes meetings with parents as soon as they have any concerns.

They do have an enormous amount of fun too; the teaching is inspiring and embellished with plenty of non-curriculum activities – from sleeping overnight on the Golden Hinde II in London to dancing with Kenyan Maasai. The children are taught by class teachers initially, working up to being setted in year 6. Three forms per year, each with 20-22 pupils - no physical room for any more. A buddy system makes for good cross-year peer support, also there are lots of siblings, reading groups with the pre-prep and the prefects cover wet break in classrooms for the little ones. Normally they are outside on two playgrounds (now Astroturfed), kicking balls and shrieking about – although lunches are also used to squeeze in a mime class (60 per cent of the school do LAMDA), or to catch up on some work in the ICT room.

Four houses compete in sport, drama, debating etc. Pastoral care is well organised, with spreadsheets covering achievements, pastoral concerns and public recognition, ensuring that every child gets an acknowledgement – whether it is the star of the week trophy for the little ones or a Headmaster’s Show up in the Pelican Post weekly newsletter. Some parents feel the flip side of this effective documentation is a need to pigeonhole or label kids, whether as dyslexic, dyspraxic, having a processing problem or as a scholar. All of whom are well catered for here – there is a smaller dyslexia centre and two full time SENCos as well as strong connections to the main one in the senior school. A maximum of nine pulled out for each SEN group, with 12 or so students left in the English or French lesson in the third set, so both clusters benefit from the more focused attention of the teacher. Humour is used to tackle awareness of dyslexia too eg a great assembly by a couple of older boys playing on hot grills/girls.

The children begin their days with assembly in the main hall four out of five mornings a week, sitting on the wooden parquet floor. It is also used for rehearsals, art displays and, when we visited, storing the Christmas shoeboxes for communities in Eastern Europe as well as local hospices. Music is marvellous here – from the accomplished chamber choir rehearsal we heard in the main hall to the junior wind group squeaking their way through Jingle Bells. Recent choir trips were to Disneyland and Barcelona.

The very youngest children (3-7 year olds, at the pre-prep) have their own purpose designed building (ex-St Mary’s Hall, ex-Roedean Junior). Gorgeous light classrooms, well-stocked library and IT room, a big playing field as well as a playground out the back and all look jolly in their sweatshirts for nursery, smart uniforms for reception and upwards. Specialist teaching includes music, PE, art, Mandarin and French. Weekly swimming after reception, competitive matches for the top year and a huge variety of clubs run by outside coaches and teachers. Among the school council’s achievements has been the idea for three new after-school clubs (Horrible History, singing, and calligraphy) and adding chicken curry and treacle pudding to the lunch menu.

The little ones at the prep do projects every three weeks, getting passionate about making a video on volcanos erupting or designing a tooth hygiene poster. The library is a converted chapel, bright and well used, as an alternative ICT room and for English lessons, reading on the bean bags in the corner (as long as you write a book report…) The oldest years get to use email, only with their address. One of the two science labs has a veritable menagerie of pets – from snakes to rabbits. The pet club love to take some home at the weekend and there are tablets for each child to use for individual research during science lessons.

There’s a wonderful home economics room, with tasty ingredients laid out and recipes published in the weekly Pelican Post – as ever, the most popular is pizza. This is compulsory up until year 6 and then the separate sciences take over that slot in the timetable. Latin is done in year 7 and 8 for those in the first set in English.

The art and DT departments are also impressive, the shelves stacked with class projects and a couple of big ones like a clock for the playground and a sign for the revamped Brighton train station (the children wrote a letter and got shown around). There’s a newish head of art whose intention is to move away from what has been described in the past by parents as a contained feeling, as opposed to the freedom of creativity. The work produced looks fabulous and the kids seem to love it – they are aware they may get an art or DT scholarship if they put together a portfolio and hand it in.

There is a clear scale of minus and misconduct marks leading up to the normal worst case scenario, a headmaster’s detention, for which the miscreant will have to fill out a TAL form (Trigger, Action, Learning) – head commented, ‘children need to be taught the right, the wrong and the way to get it right’.

Sport is spread all over the town but minibuses nip back and forth and there is a huge range of team abilities – one main sport for boys and girls each term but always clubs on offer, with boys recently joining in with the girls playing hockey on the Astroturf. New climbing wall. The director of sport organises several football tournaments and athletics matches each year for local primary schools including a separate girls’ one. You couldn’t possibly try everything that is available, since the buses leave at 4.45pm each day. Homework is restricted to two subjects for 30 minutes each for years 7 and 8 (less for the other year groups), with one additional Latin prep at the weekend. A prep diary ensures that this is documented for parents and teachers - it also helps the children learn self-organisation.

Special Education Needs

Brighton College specialises in helping bright dyslexic children to achieve their academic potential whilst, at the same time, providing them with a stimulating environment in which to develop their strengths and talents. The school has its own Dyslexia Centre which supports children from each of the three schools of Brighton College: the Pre-Prep School, the Prep School and the Senior School. Up to the end of Year 6, pupils receive a combination of in-class support in English and small group withdrawal for specialist teaching. From Year 7 onwards, full members of the Dyslexia Centre receive all their English lessons in the Centre in groups no larger than 9. In addition, most (but not all) dyslexic pupils substitute their modern languages time for additional support. For those pupils whose needs require less support, ad hoc provision is available. In the sixth form, an AS/A Level study skills course is available, together with individual support lessons. Pupils with other special educational needs are the responsibility of the three Special Needs Co-ordinators (SENCOs). The school is always happy to discuss individual needs with parents, although it recognises that the level of provision it can currently offer may not be sufficient to support all special educational needs. The school has a separate department for the support of those pupils whose first language is not English. Please see Brighton College for response to questionnaire which covers all 3 schools. 09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Aspergers Syndrome [archived]
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders [archived]
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Delicate Medical Problems [archived]
English as an additional language (EAL)
Epilepsy [archived]
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
Not Applicable
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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