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What says..

‘It is 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. Lots of outdoor learning for the younger children such as drawing on the garden paths and outdoor phonics lessons. It is an arty, creative area and not many parents go to work in a suit...

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What the school says...

Formerly Mowden School, Lancing Prep Hove joined the Lancing College family of schools in 2002, when it also became co-educational.
We aim to offer every child the opportunities to achieve their potential within a broad and varied curriculum. Whilst ensuring that each child achieves their very best academically, we believe there is much more to be found than academia alone.
Central to our ethos is the idea that all pupils have at least one co-curricular area in which they can excel, and to that end we place great importance on the teaching of Art, Drama, Music and Sport alongside those subjects you would expect to find in the National Curriculum.
Whilst we are proud of our traditions, we are also a forward-thinking school, looking to build upon our past successes to achieve even greater heights in the future. By the time our pupils leave, they will have acquired a confidence and a self-belief, together with a set of values that will remain with them throughout their lives.
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What The Good Schools Guide says

Head Mistress

Since 2016, Kirsty Keep BEd. Educated at Bournemouth School for Girls and Homerton College, Cambridge where she gained her BEd. She started her career teaching English at Edge Grove and was promoted to senior mistress with a remit to integrate the newly arrived girls into what had been a boys’ school. She then spent 11 years as head of the lower school at Downsend Prep in Surrey before moving to Lancing Prep at Hove. She and her husband Ed grew up together in Bournemouth and both taught at Downsend; he now teaches maths here and they have a daughter in the pre-prep, so a real family affair.

She is the first female head in the history of the school, and says she has the best of both worlds as she has the autonomy to run her own school but with the support of the wider Lancing family. ‘Kirsty took on a good school and is improving it – it feels like a school in the ascendant,’ said a parent. She has embarked on a major refurbishment programme but the aims and ethos of the school remain the same. ‘Family values are at the heart of everything we do and all are nurtured through their childhood so they are ready for the adolescent years. We want every child to find something at which they excel.’ All are encouraged to be brave and independent and to focus on being the four Rs - Resourceful, Resilient, Reflective and Relating - and are rewarded for demonstrating these qualities.

She describes the school as free thinking and free flowing and has a genuine open door policy, so parents and children can walk in for a chat without an appointment. ‘You can talk to her mother to mother and she is always happy to have a chat and a bit of a laugh.’ ‘She always makes time and is never in a rush,’ and ‘does her homework before a meeting and has the data to hand.’ She teaches critical thinking to years 3, 5 and 7 and one of her great pleasures is listening to the Archers on the way home from work – ‘It is the secret to finding a balance in life,’ she says. When she is not working, she loves skiing, reading, swimming and the theatre.

Entrance

Non-selective on academic grounds but it is sometimes suggested a child might look elsewhere if it is thought they would not thrive. All have a taster day and for those not joining in nursery or reception, the school asks for a reference from the child’s previous school. The main entry points are nursery, reception and year 7 (often from state primary schools) but can join at any time, even mid-year, if there is a space.

Exit

Over 75 per cent of year 8s to Lancing College (often with awards) but only after discussion with parents – entry via 11+ testing followed by CE at 13+ mainly for setting purposes. The others to a variety of schools, the most popular two being Hurstpierpoint and Bede’s. A small number leave at 11+.

Our view

A modern, forward looking school with a delightful old fashioned feel where children can grow up slowly. Formerly known as Mowden, the school was founded in 1896 for boys only at Mowden Hall, Essex by the Snell family who ran it for three generations until 2002. It moved to Hove in 1901 and to its current purpose built site in 1913. The pre-prep opened in 1997 and the last boarders left in 1999. On the retirement of the Snells in 2002 it was bought by Lancing College, became Lancing College Prep and started taking girls. The school is aiming for a ratio of 60:40 and although some years are still a bit boy heavy, it no longer feels like a boys’ school with girls but a proper co-ed school. It became Lancing Prep Hove when the college bought what is now Lancing Prep Worthing. Major recent refurbishments included a large multi-purpose hall which doubles up as a dining room and assembly, performance and sports hall, and the ultra-modern Snell library - all plate glass and blue furniture.

The school is set in seven acres of grounds in a prosperous area of Hove, eight miles from Lancing College. It is part of the Woodard group of schools with strong Christian roots and welcomes all faiths, and none, and aims to instil in children the importance of contributing to the community inside and outside the school.

Several of the classrooms are in cosy pre-fab buildings outside the main house and much outdoor learning takes place in the grounds. Classes average of 14, and are mixed ability until year 7 when a class is created for potential scholars. ‘I get so much more attention than at my last school’, said a newly arrived boy. French taught from year 1 with Spanish and Mandarin offered as clubs. Latin added in year 6, German and Spanish in year 7, alongside optional Mandarin.

One full time SENCo and an assistant – children either taken out of lessons or given in class support, whichever works best. Can accommodate mild learning difficulties – mainly dyspraxia and dyslexia; no blanket testing for dyslexia but the small class sizes mean everyone can be closely monitored. Not an ideal building for wheelchair users 'but would always work with prospective parents of a disabled child to explore how we could meet their needs'.

The school is not an exam factory and wants children to be creative, curious and independent, to enjoy learning for its own sake and not be funnelled through the syllabus. ‘It is 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. ‘Male teachers can be difficult to recruit,’ says the headmistress, but the deputy head and several teachers and games coaches are men, so there is a significant male presence to provide role models.

Offers all the usual sports and the school fields enough teams for everyone who wants to play in a match. Girls’ cricket recently introduced and increasingly popular. Also offers tennis, basketball and athletics; swimming lessons for everyone at Lancing College, with golf and squash available there too.

Music taught from nursery upwards and is ’huge’, said our guide, and about 75 per cent learn at least one instrument. The music department is housed in a warren of rooms on the top floor. Most start with the piano or guitar and every child is offered the chance to play the violin or cello in year 3. Children can take part in a variety of ensembles and play in school concerts and in the local community. The choir sings regularly in the local church and the parent-teacher choir takes part in school events.

Residential trips from year 5: year 7 to France, year 6 to PGL and year 5 to the New Forest, plus a year 7 geography trip to Dorset and year 8 outdoor adventure trip to Wales after CE. Most children have the chance to be in a play or musical every year as well as take part in poetry readings and drama awards, and the weekly drama club is open to all.

Dance popular with both boys and girls with three dance clubs a week which include contemporary, tap, ballet and street. An annual highlight is the Strictly Dancing at Lancing competition and children also take part in an annual dance show at the college.

Busy art and DT department housed in the old squash courts – ‘there is lots of freedom to do your own thing and add your own touch,’ said a pupil. The school takes part in the annual children’s parade in Brighton and a huge spider was being made for this when we visited. Year 7s make and race rocket cars and can sometimes use the DT rooms at Lancing College.

‘They offer loads of activities and there is something for everyone,’ said a parent, including ninjutsu, climbing and even a Lego STEM after-school club. Debating and chess are popular and debaters visit the House of Commons to see how it is done for real.

Each child has a cultural passport with a list of goals to tick off. It might be baking a cake or recommending a book to a friend, taking up a hobby or making a difference to someone less advantaged. Older children get involved in the Christmas shoebox collection for the local homeless in Brighton and Hove – pupils learn to appreciate and not to take for granted how fortunate they are by talking to homeless young people only a few years older than themselves.

‘The school nurtures every child but does not wrap them in cotton wool’, says the head mistress and there is a strong system of pastoral support. The form teacher is the first point of contact and the matron is ELSA (Emotional Literacy Support Assistant) trained and looks after the physical and emotional health of the children. ‘She is easy to talk to and there are lots of people to make sure you are ok,’ said a pupil. A school counsellor from Lancing College comes over as needed and can offer counselling to year 6 and above on referral. PSHE is incorporated into the academic curriculum and children are taught how to stay safe and behave appropriately online and how to spot fake news. The school works closely with parents on e-safety and offers parents PSHE so they can help their children with issues such as study skills, self-harm and relationship problems.

Buddy system for all new children and ‘you often forget someone is new after a couple of weeks,’ said a pupil. Lunch is served in the new multi-purpose hall - the menu has been overhauled and children are encouraged to try new things. Teachers eat with the children to keep an eye on table manners and add to the family atmosphere. There is a whole prep school assembly four mornings a week.

The pre-prep is very much part of the school with classrooms in the main house. Lots of outdoor learning for the younger children such as drawing on the garden paths and outdoor phonics lessons. The nursery is housed in a bungalow next door, bought in 2013 and entered through a gate made of giant coloured pencils. The emphasis is on fun and story-telling and they have a mud kitchen. They go for nature walks and visit the Lancing College farm. PE and music from nursery upwards. ‘It is like a home from home,’ said a mother, ‘my daughter cried when she was ill and couldn’t go to school.’

Most families live in the Brighton and Hove area and many walk to school, but there is a school minibus, which also calls at Lancing College, and a subsidised taxi service for those who live further afield. It is an arty, creative area and not many parents go to work in a suit. Some children are bi- or even trilingual but none need extra help with English. Wraparound care from 8am-5.30pm and children can do supervised prep at school - useful for working parents.

Parents regularly updated with photos and emails of what their children are up to. Active PTA runs events including a quiz night and comedy night, and helps with the fête and the shoebox appeal, and the dads have a golf group known as the lapdogs – history doesn’t relate how they got this name. The school’s best known old boy is England cricketer Mason Crane.

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