Claremont School, East Sussex – Senior School and Sixth Form
Claremont is an impressive all-through school for boys and girls aged 3 to 18, set across two sites in the heart of East Sussex. Find out all about the senior school and sixth form.
This all-through school for children aged 3 to 18 set in beautiful East Sussex countryside occupies two separate campuses, one for juniors and one for seniors. Each has its own distinct feel and setting, and you can read about the senior school below and the junior school here. Claremont began life as a prep school, then expanded into an all-through school with a separate campus for the seniors and sixth form some 10 years ago. The school is part of the Independent Schools Partnership of 48 schools across 13 countries.
As a whole, Claremont is an exciting offering with a fascinating mix of traditional and modern facilities and sites, a huge and privileged outdoor space used to full advantage, and a distinct ethos that’s down to earth and focused on children as individuals, with healthy academic aspiration and sporting excellence for good measure.
The senior school and sixth form are housed in a relatively compact campus (compared to the sprawling prep site which you can read about here) in the tiny and picturesque village of Bodiam, just a few hundred metres from the iconic Bodiam Castle and on the site of a former junior school.
A narrow driveway surrounded by green fields leads to a large Astroturf at the front of the sports centre. Many of the facilities are new, including an impressive Sixth Form centre which houses a common room, smaller learning spaces, a kitchen, and a large, open-plan office-like classroom in which students dressed in business attire can plug in their laptops and get a taste of grown-up life.
The senior school partly occupies the original and charming Victorian manor house building, which has been extended and added to and contains absolutely zero wood panelling or any other traditional public school livery. It’s a modern-feeling campus thanks to the newer buildings of the sports centre, complete with vast sports hall, art and photography studio and the deeply impressive performing arts space, of which more later.
Classrooms are sizeable and fully equipped, as are the impressive science labs – one each for chemistry, biology and physics and each really reflects its subject and discipline. Design and technology currently takes place in what’s ominously referred to as ‘the dungeon’, a basement-level space, but are set to be moved into a brand-new purpose built space to be constructed within the next year.
With such an impressive sports centre at the front of the site, not to mention a large heated indoor swimming pool, it’s no surprise to find that Claremont excels at sport. But the degree to which it excels is perhaps a little more unexpected. Claremont’s football academy is a hallmark of excellence, run by a talent scout for Premiership football teams and last year’s Year 10 are national champions at football. Even so, pupils wanting to join the academy must also keep prioritising their academic studies and falling behind to focus on football isn’t tolerated – this is about helping young people prepare for their future and balancing managing expectations of future careers in football with helping each and every individual to fulfil their personal potential, wherever that may lie.
For those who aren’t here for the football, there’s a full programme of the core sports – cricket, netball and hockey – as well as plenty of other opportunities to try new activities and excel. The senior school doesn’t have acres of sports pitches, because the junior school has more than enough and is a short bus ride away.
Atop the sports hall is a fitness suite of gym equipment – head Ed Dickie quips that even students who consider themselves a bit ‘too cool for school’, congregate there to hone their abs.
Claremont’s approach to creative arts is immersive and progressive. Many schools have art studios and Claremont’s is as aspirational, creative and impressive as you would expect. But the addition of a dedicated photography studio complete with all the relevant technology. The prioritising of this medium demonstrates a real understanding of the importance in the modern world of mastering skills like taking a decent snap, for so many different reasons.
The Performing Arts centre, another new, wooden chalet-style building in the same vein as the Sixth Form and sports centres, is a bit of a jewel in the already glittering crown. Incorporating extensive music facilities, an enormous dance studio and a professional-quality theatre, along with more boutique studio space, it encompasses Claremont’s joined-up approach to creative arts. The focus is on the intersections between the disciplines, and on the technologies required in the 21st Century, so student devised work is a big focus, as is music production and dance, alongside the more traditional separate disciplines of drama and music.
Leavers go on to a range of destinations from prestigious Russell Group universities, Oxbridge and Harvard to working apprenticeships – it’s all about what’s right for each particular student.
Claremont’s structure incorporates discrete Senior Leadership Teams at both the prep and senior schools, and a Whole School Leadership Team under principal Giles Perrin who founded the senior school itself in 2011. Ed Dickie is now head of the senior school, and he, like Mr Perrin, joined from Bede’s where he was a housemaster and taught history and politics. Incidentally Claremont’s director of performing arts is also ex Bede’s, persuaded over by Mr Dickie after maternity leave.
Facilities wise, the school is very much where it needs to be with the design and technology overhaul the last piece of the puzzle, and the focus for the leadership team now is growing numbers further – although it’s come a long way since its inception with just 40 pupils at the senior school, to the current 300+.
Right next to the impressive indoor pool sits a jolly, child-sized paddling pool, a charming reminder of the site’s heritage as a junior school. And above the photography studio with its high-tech equipment is an old-fashioned darkroom, and students are still taught how to develop film.
Boarding is offered in separate girls and boys boarding houses, the former at Pyke House in Battle and the latter at Clyde House in St Leonards. Boarders are a mix of UK and international, making for a culturally diverse community. The school’s assistant head (International) is also director of boarding and more than 50% of the boarding staff live onsite and are on call 24 hours. The school nurse visits each boarding house weekly and works closely with the resident matrons.
Claremont offers full, weekly (Mon – Thurs) and flexi-boarding, to meet the needs of international and UK parents, and a full range of evening and activity weekends, including trips and outings up to London, out to the seaside and to theatres, museums and other attractions.
£6,276 a term for years 9-13, and this rises to £11,152 for full boarding and £9,907 for weekly boarding.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: An all-through school has obvious advantages to children and families. Sporty children will be drawn to the footballing academy and arty kids will love the focus on creativity. Academics are vital but it’s not a hothouse.
Not for: Claremont is a growing school, but the compact size of the senior school and Sixth Form offers a different experience to some of the bigger colleges.
Dare to disagree? Head to the Open House week from 27 Sept to 2 Oct, or book a private tour.
Claremont School Senior School and Sixth Form, Bodiam, Nr Robertsbridge, East Sussex, TN32 5UJ, 01580 830396, claremontschool.co.uk