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There is something for everyone at Rossall, with seemingly endless extracurricular opportunities, especially for arty and musical children and outdoorsy types. More unusual examples include film making, cryptography, psychology, jazz band, knitting, Warhammer and astrophysics – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The displays in the art department are exceptional. This is a very sporty school for both girls and boys. Ian Botham sent his son Liam here and many alumni have gone on to play rugby, hockey or cricket professionally. Results reflect the broad intake but are on the up. Parents appreciate the recent changes made to…

 
 

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What the school says...

Rossall School has an excellent reputation for inspiring creativity and engendering a lifelong love of learning.

Situated on the spectacular Fylde Coast, we are a progressive and internationally-minded community, which benefits from excellent links throughout the UK and beyond.

We are committed to providing an outstanding quality of teaching and learning, and an engaging and exciting curriculum.

Our pupils benefit from an extraordinarily vibrant academic culture, and this actively promotes both their intellectual and emotional growth. On the regional and national stage, we are immeasurably proud of the achievements of our pupils within the realms of performing arts and sports.

Most importantly, young people leave us with the confidence, compassion, resilience and academic qualifications necessary to support their future personal and professional success and happiness.

I am sure that you will enjoy learning more about our School as you explore our website. That said, there really is no substitute for a visit and we hope to have the opportunity to welcome you and your family to Rossall, so that you may experience the incredible warmth of this most remarkable and successful community.
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Curricula

International Baccalaureate: diploma - the diploma is the familiar A-level equivalent.

International Baccalaureate: primary years - primary years is a programme for ages 3-12.

Cambridge Pre-U - an alternative to A levels, with all exams at the end of the two-year course.

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.

International Study Centre - school has a linked, international study centre for overseas students wishing to improve their English.

Sports

Fencing

Shooting

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since 2018, Jeremy Quartermain, previously deputy head (academic) at Brentwood School. History degree from Cambridge and MPhil in medieval history from Trinity College Dublin, where he also tutored undergrads. Taught English overseas for a while then did a PGCE at the University of East Anglia. Was a history and classics teacher at Gresham, where he was later promoted to head of sixth form. He is also a freelance tutor for the Holocaust Educational Trust.

Parents describe him as ‘charismatic’ and ‘an excellent communicator’ with ‘a passion for high quality education’. His drive to move Rossall on underpins everything he says and he has clearly excelled at bringing staff and parents with him on his journey too – their buy-in is evident. He told us his vision is the product of his own personal experiences and belief in caring for children as much as his intellectual beliefs. Also a keen musician, he is dedicated to ensuring that Rossall’s long-standing reputation for sports is balanced with an equally strong commitment to the arts and especially music. The staff room has seen major changes since he arrived including new deputy head, head of the junior school and directors of teaching and learning and sixth form. One staff member told us, ‘We came here because we wanted to work with Jeremy – children are at the heart of everything he believes in and does.’ The head told us ,‘I am confident we have a common room of staff with the highest aspirations which has helped lead the surge in results.’

Married to Fiona, who hails from County Galway. She is head of learning support at Rossall and has taught at both primary and secondary level. They have three young daughters all at the school.

Entrance

Entrance tests in English, maths and non-verbal reasoning. Interview with head for all applicants, who also have to produce a handwritten personal statement of no more than two sides of A4. Rare for the school to say no, though – only really happens if they can’t meet the pupil’s needs. School is biggest it ever has been – a good job perhaps as its excellent provision of online learning during Covid lockdowns has led to a significant increase in applications from other local schools. Higher numbers (including of high achieving students) are coming in at sixth form too, which head puts down to the school’s improving academic results. Five 5s at GCSE needed at this point, with some subjects requiring a 6 or 7.

International applicants are assessed for English via an online interview – the ones we spoke to had excellent command of English and the school is clear it will not encourage students to start courses where they will struggle to succeed. Those going into years 7 to 10 are put into mainstream classes with EAL support; year 11s are put in a pre-sixth form stream to prepare for A level or IB.

Exit

Around a third leave after GCSEs. Most sixth form pupils go on to university, over 60 per cent to Russell Group or other top 20 universities. Destinations include Imperial, King’s College London, Bristol, Warwick, Leeds, Manchester and Durham. Four medics in 2021, and two heading off to US universities in full scholarships. Sometimes a few to Oxbridge, though none in 2021.

Latest results

In 2021, 55 per cent 9-7 at GCSE; 61 per cent A*/A at A level (83 per cent A*-B). Average IB score 35. In 2019 (the last year when exams took place), 47 per cent 9-7 at GCSE.

Teaching and learning

Results reflect the broad intake but are on the up. Parents appreciate the recent changes made to the curriculum especially the greater focus on pupils' academic attainment. Maths, sciences, English, technology and art do particularly well. Drama is a key part of curriculum. Languages are important, with the opportunity to learn two out of French, German and Spanish from year 7 and all three offered at GCSE, IB and A level. Classics has been re-introduced, Latin is available at A level and a handful study ancient Greek. Students told us the absence of computing limits their choices at GCSE and A level – school says it’s on the case. School has a resident astronomer and its own observatory which allows for the study of astronomy, including at GCSE. Roughly a third of sixth formers (mostly international) do the IB. BTEC in sport now available. Class sizes of 18-20 (occasionally 22) in years 7-11 and 18 in sixth form, though parents feel the increasing popularity of the school is putting pressure on this.

Inclusion is the mantra on everyone’s lips. Both staff and parents we spoke to feel the school is about much more than academia and that it doesn’t focus resources and attention on high flyers at the expense of those in the middle or who are struggling. One mum was impressed that her children were not just ‘being taught to conform’. Parents say sets are constantly under review and that tracking of students’ performance has also improved, with sensible targets given. ‘We just didn’t know how well the kids were doing in the past, but that’s all changed under the new head,’ said one. Students – especially senior ones – also recognise that the school has changed and feel well supported to achieve a good balance between hard work and extracurricular. Staff are keen to support students to become independent learners and marking is now focused on constructive feedback not just simple correction – parents approve.

This is one of the most international schools in the UK. Students come from 42 different countries, and around 60 per cent of students sitting GCSE, A level and IB exams have EAL. For those whose English isn’t fluent (or near fluent), there’s an intensive EAL support stream – it’s not separate as such, just about ensuring students get all the top-up help they need, with some students only receiving EAL support for a term or two. International students joining in year 11 are invited on the Pre Sixth Form programme, within which there are two streams adapted to the level of English support required; these students prepare for a selection of IGCSE qualifications in a mix of main school and tailored lessons to prepare them for entry to sixth form. Parents love the internationalism and several commented that their children had maintained friendships with international pupils long after they had returned to their home country.

Parents were impressed by the way school immediately moved learning online during the first lockdown and felt that learning had not suffered significantly during Covid restrictions. iPads for all helped, they told us. As a result, the school was a finalist for two BIBA awards in 2021 - best Covid Response in Business and Education Establishment of the Year.

Learning support and SEN

High-quality SEN support headed up by head’s wife, who comes in for high praise from parents particularly for her knowledge of students’ individual needs. Dyslexia, ADHD and ASD all catered for. In-class support and curriculum adjustments can be made. TAs and one-to-ones available at an extra cost. The school is honest with parents if it can’t support a child. Therapeutic support for emotional health and wellbeing is provided through the school farm. We noticed the complete lack of stigma attached to additional needs here, which leads to students often coming to ask for support proactively. Sixth form students also give support as part of their community service.

The arts and extracurricular

There is something for everyone at Rossall, with seemingly endless extracurricular opportunities, especially for arty and musical children and outdoorsy types. More unusual examples include film making, cryptography, psychology, jazz band, knitting, Warhammer and astrophysics – and this is just the tip of the iceberg. DofE and CCF are both popular. There is also a literary society, which meets regularly to discuss poetry, books and culture.

A new performing arts centre was completed in 2018 and the new director of music is a former West End director with a master’s in choral conducting. There is a strong choral tradition, closely bound in with the life of the historic chapel. Students play different types of music in various performances and concerts throughout the year – one we spoke to had performed in Berlin, Paris and Westminster Abbey. They can learn instruments at school with visiting tutors for an extra fee. When we visited, 12 new Steinway pianos were due to arrive, including a concert grand, making it an All-Steinway School with tuition available for those with a particular talent. The first such student was recruited when we were there - she had beaten 120 entrants in a Rossall international piano competition.

Students and staff speak enthusiastically about the dramatic opportunities here and the chance to act in productions or be in involved in stage and costume design is open to all ages. The school puts on two plays a year in one of two well-equipped performance spaces. The drama department also has links with a local theatre school and casting agency, which has enabled some pupils to appear in national radio and television productions. The displays in the art department are exceptional. Keen artists are allowed to use the well-stocked workshops and studios every day after school. Each year in the Lent term Rossall devotes a week solely to art, music and drama and parents told us that even the highest performing sports players are never discouraged from getting involved in the school play or any other creative endeavour.

Sport

This is a very sporty school for both girls and boys. Ian Botham sent his son Liam here and many alumni have gone on to play rugby, hockey or cricket professionally. Several current students are playing football at club and national level. More than a dozen pupils, male and female, currently play hockey for Lancashire. There are countless sports options beyond the more obvious team games: pupils can also play basketball, squash or badminton, or lift weights, climb, dance or shoot, and there are golf and football academies. The football academy recruits boys and girls from both home and abroad and is linked to Fleetwood Town football club. Four girls currently play for Manchester City and Manchester United. The academy director has recently been recruited to manage the England under-16 team. The golf academy is ranked number one for senior golf by the Independent Schools’ Golf Association. It boasts an indoor golf centre with putting range, golf nets and a simulator to allow students to improve their shots - despite encouragement, we didn’t try it out.

Facilities are among the best we've seen; almost all sports offered are catered for on site. Includes an extensive range of top-quality pitches, playing fields, squash courts and the like. There's a 25-metre indoor swimming pool and in 2019 a new £4m sports centre was opened. Six badminton courts, an indoor sprint track and indoor long and high jump pits also feature.

Rossall sport is steeped in tradition. Ross hockey is a unique game, a hockey-rugby hybrid played only on the school’s private beach. School regularly competes in rugby fives tournaments at prestigious public schools as well as hosting its own national Rossall Fives tournament each October.

Boarders

Pupils can board for weekdays only or the whole time. If day pupils want to temporary board, which they often do, then they stay in spare beds within their own house. Temporary boarding allows day pupils to stay at the school for a night or longer for pretty much any reason. They typically temporary board on a Friday night if they have to be at school early the next morning for a match or on a Saturday night if they want to tag along on the boarding house’s Sunday outing. Some also choose to flexi-board, a more regular option, the same night each week with supervised prep, extracurricular activities and tea provided as part of the package.

Although there are no Saturday classes, this is a busy day for sports practice and fixtures. On Sundays boarders can, at no extra cost, go on an outing to eg bowling, crazy golf, Alton Towers, Manchester Christmas markets. Just under 25 per cent of boarders are international and these will be met at and delivered back to Manchester Airport by a representative of the school at the start and end of term. Pupils also have the option to stay in school during the holidays for a fee.

The boarding houses, including the junior house for 7 to 13-year-olds, are homely and more cosy than typical university halls of residence. Any pupil can use them to relax and socialise during lunchtimes. Some are more up to date than others but the school has used Covid to begin an extensive round of refurbishing the houses on a five-year cycle. Rooms are mostly singles, and are spacious and comfortable. Common rooms, kitchens and other social spaces are plentiful. Consequently there’s lots of scope for different age groups and both local and international pupils to mix. Each pupil has a desk in their room and the freedom to put up pictures and customise their living space. Each house has a pair of live-in houseparents who are either teachers or support staff. The ones we met were warm and affectionate, their love of the job reflected in the way the children spoke about them. ‘They look out for you and you can talk to them about anything.’

Ethos and heritage

Founded in 1844 by St Vincent Beechey as a sister school to Marlborough College, which had been founded the previous year. It was the first school in the UK to have CCF, which received the Queen’s colours in 2010. The campus is expansive and grassy, the buildings red-brick, grand and turreted; beyond them stretches a thin strip of pale yellow beach before the misty sea. The school says it’s the only one with its own private beach, gifted by Queen Victoria. Even on a grey day, it is picturesque and peaceful. The newer areas of the school are the most impressive, with some of the older teaching spaces a little tired but watch this space as there are ambitious plans in place.

The fact that it’s a boarding school, and a very international one, is integral to Rossall life. There is a seamless integration between day and boarding, UK and international students. Even if they’re not staying for a sleepover, this is a school where older pupils in particular just don’t want to go home. They can stay late for prep (with teachers on hand to help) and have their tea at school. For day pupils who stay late there are prep clinics with one-to-one support, plus the option to stay for tea.

Big on tradition. Every year during Christmas dinner in the imposing, oak-panelled dining hall, the pupils sing The Twelve Days of Christmas, each house taking a different verse. No-one tells them to do it, the pupils explain, ‘it just sort of happens, spontaneously’. It gets quite competitive, each house singing more boisterously than the last. One pupil said this sums up what’s special about Rossall. We found no hint of social snobbery, we simply saw young people having a lovely time. There is great encouragement to be who you are and everyone we spoke to said that any student could find their niche here.

Alumni include Booker-Prize-winning novelist JG Farrell; Father Thomas RD Byles, the Catholic priest who refused to leave the Titanic so that he could help other passengers; eminent figures in the world of sport, music and industry; and a few bastions of the Establishment: a governor of a couple of colonies; a private secretary to Queen Victoria; and the magnificently named Sir Walton Clopton Wingfield, who patented the game of lawn tennis.

Pastoral care, inclusivity and discipline

Several parents identified the quality of pastoral care as the single thing they most appreciated about Rossall. One parent was full of praise for the care and individual attention shown during a recent family bereavement, not just to the pupil but also to the rest of the family. Mental health and wellbeing are prioritised, with a staff member dedicated to these areas. ‘I don’t know how our child would have managed without her during Covid,’ said a parent.

Religion is part of school life - there’s a Church of England school chaplain and the whole school attends chapel every Friday. The chapel is a beautiful building, for which students feel a great deal of affection. Students said the religious aspect is inclusive, not just of other religions but atheism too. One student was deeply moved when describing his experiences of singing in the chapel in both the school choirs.

Discipline is firm, with serious breaches of rules dealt with case-by-case. Pupils we spoke to couldn’t think of any instances of bullying and spoke with real conviction about how caring an environment this is; parents told us any bullying is dealt with appropriately. Everyone feels the school is accepting of difference, perhaps not least because of the international diversity.

Pupils and parents

Quite a few parents are alumni of Rossall. Lots of state-educated too. Some pupils get help with fees from grandparents or from the school’s own means-tested bursary scheme. Three-quarters of families are from the UK, the rest international - further up the school, more than 60 per cent are international. Pupils are grounded, polite and universally positive about the school. Well presented too - uniform, blazers and tie for all, kilts for girls, all impeccable. We saw no arrogance and a remarkable sense from all of them that the school is a family. One day pupil since the age of three had chosen to board for the sixth form - ‘I’ve grown up here, it’s been so much more than developing my academic ability, I’m really nearly ready for the world,’ she told us. Another international student said, ‘No-one feels more Rossallian than anyone else. It welcomes you in.’ We met students who hadn’t been home for many months during the pandemic when the school stayed open for boarding. They were full of praise for the teaching and boarding staff and the fact that no infections passed on within school. All commented on how all the school had supported them.

Money matters

The school has been in very good financial health for a number of years. About 25 per cent of pupils in the senior school receive significant means-tested bursaries (a 50 per cent reduction of fees or more, with 100 per cent bursaries for local sixth form students). There are also scholarships available for high performers in sport, music, drama or academia.

The last word

A warm, welcoming and happy school that embraces the diversity of its community in an unselfconscious and genuine way. The buildings are grand and imposing from afar but once inside you can’t help but be bowled over by the enthusiasm, purposefulness and inclusivity.

Please note: Independent schools frequently offer IGCSEs or other qualifications alongside or as an alternative to GCSE. The DfE does not record performance data for these exams so independent school GCSE data is frequently misleading; parents should check the results with the schools.

Who came from where

Who goes where

Special Education Needs

Whilst there is no statutory requirement for independent schools, Rossall, following good educational practice, will, as far as practicable, respond to the guidelines laid down by the SEN Code of Practice. Rossall aims to educate pupils with SEN, wherever possible, alongside their peers within the normal mainstream curriculum. However, due consideration will be given to the wishes of the parents, and to ensuring that individual pupil needs are met; so that pupils can reach their full potential and enhance their self esteem. Provision for pupils with SEN is a matter for the school as a whole: in addition to the SEN Coordinator, the Principal, houseparents, tutors and subject teachers within senior school, the Head of the Junior School and Head of the Nursery and Infant School, all have important responsibilities. Rossall believes in close co-operation between all those concerned including parents and outside agencies to establish a multi-disciplinary approach to the resolution of issues.

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