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What says..

Surrounded by fields on all but its southern aspect, with a cluster of smaller buildings round about, it sits like a benign hen comfortably supervising its offspring, assured that all can run about safely in a healthy, beautiful, open space. We visited at the end of a long day and were astonished by the bright-eyed vitality of the teachers. They told us of the new topic with which each term is launched in each classroom: 'It's so exciting - they can't wait to come in and see what we're going to do!' Dance is serious - remember that Bede's is home to The Legat Dance School...

 

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What the school says...

The purpose of a school is to prepare its pupils for a rich, rewarding life. At Bede's this is our privilege and our specialism. Our philosophy means that whether a child is a drama scholar, maths prodigy or aspiring computer programmer they will have the specialist facilities and dedicated staff they need to surpass all expectations - including their own.

We support and enrich every individual, guiding them through lessons, supporting them on the sports field and connecting them with their passions through our expansive flexible activities programme. Our pupils are with us for their crucial, formative years, and we enable them to embrace the challenges and opportunities they will meet in their life beyond.

We expect a lot of each other at Bede's, and we will inspire our pupils to expect a lot of themselves. You will not find the same personalised, holistic, wholly educational experience anywhere else, and this helps us to ensure that every individual at Bede's has the chance to become extraordinary.
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Other features

All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

What The Good Schools Guide says

Headmaster

Since 2013, Giles Entwisle (BA, Loughborough). Previously deputy head at Highfield; has also been head of year, housemaster and head of MFL at Holmewood House, near Tunbridge Wells.

‘All the parents love him,’ said one, ‘he’s fabulous.’ Pupils love him too – ‘really kind’; ‘can talk to him and feel like you’re having a conversation’. This is not a school where they’ll brush you off with ‘not on the syllabus’: if you’re interested, it’s relevant. Bede's prides itself on encouraging individuals in their passions whatever they may be, and this head is keen for a challenge. What could they do for an astronomer, your reviewer asked at random: the junior galactic challenge, to create a habitat for humans on Mars… ‘Give me another one,’ said the head with relish.

Retiring September 2020. To be replaced by Mark Hammond, currently headmaster of Skippers Hill Preparatory School in east Sussex, since 2015. Degree in English language and literature from Manchester and PGCE and MA in education from Cambridge. Has taught in international schools across Europe and latterly was boarding housemaster and head of day house at Junior King’s School Canterbury. Lives with his wife Sarah and their two (teen and nearly teen) children.

Entrance

Not academically selective. Entry by interview and screening for SEN.

Exit

In 2019, 87 per cent progressed to the senior school. Others overseas to France or Spain or to Tring and Caterham.

Our view

You can't beat it for location. At the upmarket end of the grassy Eastbourne seafront where the land curves and rises to the great cliff of Beachy Head, perches an attractive five storey, mock-Tudorbethan pile, its long windows facing the sea. Surrounded by fields on all but its southern aspect, with a cluster of smaller buildings round about, it sits like a benign hen comfortably supervising its offspring, assured that all can run about safely in a healthy, beautiful, open space.

Space is a key asset and to anyone used to, for example, an urban prep or primary, Bede's is a revelation. There are more fields five minutes up the hill and another five minutes inland – all facilitate the range of sports available to these lucky children, who have the look of relaxed freedom that inhabiting such openness gives. Space also in, for example, the dining hall, one wall of which is just large windows fully open on warm, sunny days, so that the outside and the inside blend.

Two main buildings. Holywell Mount – a large Edwardian house to the right of the main building if you face the sea – houses the pre-prep and nursery. We visited at the end of a long day and were astonished by the bright-eyed vitality of the teachers. They told us of the new topic with which each term is launched in each classroom: 'It's so exciting – they can't wait to come in and see what we're going to do!' And on offer in just some rooms were: Under the Sea World, Ice World, Out of the Egg (and you should have seen the egg!) and Knock Knock – imaginative stuff, inviting exploration and discovery of all kinds.

Sports are exceptional – and not just because of facilities – at both ends of the spectrum. Says Mr Entwisle: 'We're the best cricketing prep in the country' and, as parents told us, 'even the non-sporty get enthused – and they have elite schemes for the really talented.' 'They do wonderful trips, especially for sports and languages.' Children concur: 'We went to Portugal and got trained by Benfica.' They have a clifftop walk to reach their playing fields – a walk many remember with great affection years later – but many sports are now played up at the senior school. They do, though, have their own swimming pool on site. Several teams in most sports for all years so that all but the child with thumbs glued to his iPad get a look-in, though some sense that more could be done for the less than athletic. Dance is serious – remember that Bede's is home to the Legat dance school – so all do dance up to year 5 and many continue. Teachers seen as 'brill'. Music has a relatively new director and is set to sparkle; art and drama well on the way.

An overhaul of maths has affected learning and results, and is starting to influence other subjects, as the effectiveness of the new method becomes evident: before studying in the abstract, a subject is examined from every angle and thoroughly embedded – no racing from topic to topic to tick the boxes of rapid progress. ‘Maths lessons are now noisy,’ said the head; in fact one was quiet, but the next was, indeed, noisy – ‘That’s better,’ said the head. Parents enthuse: 'The teachers are wonderful – so imaginative and approachable!' – and especially about individual needs and pastoral care: 'superb – any problems or hint of bullying are dealt with at speed' and 'they answer emails practically before you've sent them.' Weekly staff meeting to discuss and act on academic or pastoral concerns with head of learning support on hand if needed. Pupil praise too – 'They push you to your potential and we are only 10 in some groups so they can really help you.' Small group specialist work in eg fine motor skills, writing, reading, phonics for tots who seem to be falling behind. All lower classes have a TA to support individuals but some feel this should continue into upper years, 'where they need it just as much if they are struggling with a subject'. As a pupil told us, 'When I'm stuck, if they take time to explain it to me, I really get it!' Individual support – and around 25 per cent on the SEND register here – described as 'good but pricey'.

All staff are being trained in first aid mental health. The head says anxiety is sometimes a problem for pupils coming in from hothouse schools – pupils can be school phobic and need to be reintegrated into school. For pupils feeling pressured, the school counsellor runs ‘chill and chat’ drop-in sessions at break time. 'Health and safety are taken very seriously,' parents tell us, as are efforts to integrate newcomers, especially into year 7 when there is a fairly substantial intake.

And there is masses to do. 'My daughter was very shy but there are so many performances and so on – her confidence has grown unbelievably.' No shortage of facilities, inside and out – big sports hall, 18m pool, climbing walls, decent library – 'they'll get books you want if you ask' – good theatre and lovely, light rooms with the downside that 'if I'm facing the sea I just go into a daydream,' as one youngster confessed.

Most are local, though word is spreading and pupils now bus or car in from a wider range of villages. School runs its own bus service on eight routes. There is a small numbers of boarders, in a family house over the road from the school. Lovely warm houseparents and Molly the dog, of bounding, bouncing love, a garden big enough for football, and blankets to snuggle down under to watch TV. Rooms allocated sensitively, the quiet girls who like their sleep separate from their noisier peers.

Bede’s prep and senior are increasingly one school, the heads busy building strategies to ensure smooth academic and co-curricular progression through the schools. Service is a mantra senior school head returns to again and again, and he’s determined to make it school-wide – ‘Year 1 can be collecting for the food bank and the sixth form can volunteer there.’

A happy school – 'It's good at turning out all-rounders,' said several. 'It's pretty unsophisticated and relaxed – you don't get awful pushy parents there – they trust the school to know what it's doing.' And, in the words of a pupil, 'My parents wish they could have come here.'

Special Education Needs

We have a strong Learning Support Department which is fully integrated within the school. Specialist teaching from staff on a 1:1 withdrawal basis is available. There are eight staff in the team all with SEN qualifications and outreach service is received from a Speech and Language Therapist. Nov 09.

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
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
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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