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Lancing College, West Sussex, England

Lancing College, West Sussex, England

Lancing College is one of England’s premier co-educational public schools, set apart by its founding membership of the (Christian) Woodward Schools group and its proximity to the architectural neo-Gothic masterpiece, College Chapel, the oldest school chapel in the world, which dominates the skyline across the Adur Valley.

The Woodard Schools group is the largest group of independent Church of England schools in England and Wales, educating more than 30,000 children in an “actively Christian environment” across 44 independent and maintained schools.

Lancing College itself occupies a 550 acre site within reach of Brighton and Shoreham-on-Sea with school and boarding houses positioned around the central quads. The school has its own farm, river access, squash courts, 4 Eton fives courts, rifle range, swimming pool, gym, two all-weather Astro-turf pitches , twenty-eight tennis courts, two theatres and two libraries.

Alumni include Sir Tim Rice, Tom Sharpe, Evelyn Waugh, Sir David Hare, Jamie Theakston, Sir Christopher Meyer and Sinclair Beecham.

Lancing College provides the most traditional of English public school educations focused on the three pillars of sport, (compulsory) chapel and academics. The school is run according to 4 specific ethics centered on the preservation and promotion of Christian values:

•    To educates boys and girls to develop a love of learning and to reach their full potential;
•    To enrich pupils in the arts and physical activities;
•    To prepares young men and women of vision and integrity;
•    To educate pupils to be of service to their fellow human beings.

However, it is a school in the value-added tradition in which, whilst being “unashamedly” academic and selective, it accepts Common Entrance pass levels of 55% (or in-house alternative) in combination with excellent existing school references.

“To focus on examination results would be, in many ways, to miss the point of a Lancing education. Indeed to say too much about results might suggest that we are an academic hot house, and that is one thing Lancing certainly is not. Although we are a selective school, we admit a range of pupils from many different backgrounds and we believe in giving the young people in our care the confidence to believe they can achieve extraordinary things rather than putting them under huge academic pressure and making them fear failure.”


Whilst set low for an academically selective school, Lancing nevertheless manages a top 100 place for academic performance at O and A-level with 52% of students achieving A/A* grades at A Level and 54% at O-level. The average UCAS points score for leavers in 2014 was 356 which equates to grades AAA. Given its near mixed-ability intake, these value-added results are genuinely impressive.

25% of boarders are drawn internationally including from Europe and the Middle, Near and Far East.

Entry for overseas students is at 13+ and 16+ through submission of Registration Form (and Registration Fee of £190) together with a current reference or report from the candidate’s school.

Those applying for places will be assessed in Verbal Reasoning and Mathematics usually at Lancing (although exceptionally tests may be held at schools internationally). Following an interview a place will be offered at which point the payment of an Entrance Deposit of one term’s fees is required. Candidates from preparatory schools may alternatively sit Common Entrance. Entry into the Sixth Form is assessed also by submission of a personal statement.

Places are offered in December to successful candidates, subject to their meeting a minimum of five B grades at GCSE, which would usually include Mathematics, English and a foreign language. Although some classes in English as a Foreign Language are available, candidates need to have studied English at school and to have a good understanding of the language before they arrive at Lancing. Sixth Form candidates’ level of English should be IELTS 5.0+.

The school has a well-defined Oxbridge slipstream with an average of 8 places secured per annum in subjects ranging from law to engineering between 2010 and 2013.

Co-curricular activities are based around the most traditional public school sports including football, Eton Fives, hockey, netball, cricket, tennis and rounders, although interestingly for a traditional school rugby, whilst played, is not a core sport.

Outside this the offers an array of alternatives including dance (part of the PE curriculum and including ballet and jazz), yoga, Pilates, drama and music schools and design (including instrument making, CNC machining and 3D printing).

IT is recognised as a bridge between all parts of a students life at Lancing and every pupil is provided with an IPad.

The Lancing Farm provides pupils with experience of the spectrum of rural life from animal husbandry to hedge laying.

The school has its own 25M swimming pool.

Whilst Christian values and Chapel are integral to a Lancing education (Sixth form jewelry is almost exclusively restricted to confirmation chains), children from all faiths, both internationally and home-based, are both genuinely welcome to the school and, to reinforce this commitment, encouraged to apply for scholarships.

A Level grades secured at A*/A/B: 81% (10 Year average)
A’ Level grades A*/A: 52% (2014)
GCSE Grades A*A: 54% (2014)
GCSE Grades A*B: 77.6% (2014)


Our view
Lancing College makes an extraordinary impression.

The scale and beauty of the magnificent and architecturally important school Chapel, which completely dominates the school and rural landscape for miles around, is central to the school’s ability to inspire its pupils with a sense of history and the potential for human achievement.

It is in every sense, on first looks, the archetypal English public school from prep and Saturday schooling to sport and faith provision.

However, Lancing is actually a more complex and interesting school.

Whilst selective, it looks beyond Common Entrance at entry, because it excels in adding value to ensure all children excel on their own terms.

Whilst academically rigorous, its performing arts provision is genuine and formidable.

Whilst sport is central to its view of education, it has a working farm that provides alternative activities for the less sporty amongst its children.

Whilst resolutely Christian and faith driven, it welcomes pupils from all faiths and cultures – and offers scholarships to support their application.

Whilst offering the most traditional of sports, it eschews rugby for football.

Whilst resolutely traditional in academic approach, IPads are ubiquitous.

These combinations are rare and compelling. It is, however, that degree to which Lancing is able to add value to a predominantly mixed ability intake, and its doing so within an unmatched setting that literally takes the breath away, that makes it such a uniquely inspirational school for parents of “normal” children who are looking for the very best coeducation public school education available in the UK today.

A (very) highly recommended school.


•    Outstanding added value – top 5 in the UK
•    Tradition, but with ‘twists’ that make Lancing unique
•    Environment

•    Not for those opposed to a faith based education
•    Higher tier fees
•    Not for those seeking single-sex boarding

Best for
•    All children of a little above average ability
•    International parents seeking tradition
•    Genuine bursary provision and scholarships

Not for
•    An examination hot house education
•    Will be far too traditional for many
•    Children who do not respond well to structure and discipline


The Facts
•    Number of children: 536
•    Age Range: 13-18
•    Boarding number:  321 pupils
•    Day number: 215
•    Sixth Form:   Not published
•    Average class size: 15
•    Number of full time teaching staff: 93
•    Curriculum: GCSE, IGCSE, AS, A-Level
•    Fees: Day £23,130, Boarding £32.910 per annum
•    Address: Lancing College, Lancing, West Sussex BN15 0RW
•    Tel and Web Address: +44 (0) 1273 452213 / www.lancingcollege.co.uk
•    Admissions:  admissions@lancing.org.uk/ +44 (0) 1273 465805
•    Principal: Dominic Oliver  MPhil Oxon
•    Gender: Co-educational (341 Boys, 195 Girls)
•    ISI Rating Boarding (Intermediate 2014): NMS Met
•    ISI Rating Academic (2011): Outstanding
•    ISI Rating Personal Development (2011): Outstanding
•    ISI Boarding: Excellent
•    ISI Rating Leadership (2011): Excellent
•    Year Founded: 1848


Review by: Johnathan Westley, International Editor, WhichSchoolAdvisor.com

Update on August 30, 2015 | Reviewed by WhichSchoolAdvisor.com on August 30, 2015

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