Lancing Prep Worthing
A lovely, compact day school for children up to 13 years old where childhood is protected and values of loving learning, kindness, and doing good in the world are lived and breathed.
This lovely, compact day-school for boys and girls currently aged 2 to 13 is part of the Lancing College family that also includes Lancing Prep Hove. The Georgian manor house that comprises the main building within the two-acre site sits well within the Broadwater area of Worthing, but also occupies its own spacious and enclosed little world, giving the school a really nurturing, warm and caring feel. Head Heather Beeby says this is a school for families who don’t want their children to grow up too quickly. While it has the feel of a place where childhood is valued and protected, this doesn’t come at the expense of opportunities.
The majority of the school is housed within the manor house, which has an impressive front and some lovely character details. It’s a bit of a rabbit-warren, as older buildings often are, and there’s the odd bit of dark, imposing wood panelling scattered around, most notably in the head’s office. The overall atmosphere and feel of the school is so well-defined however that these little throwbacks to its history feel almost tongue in cheek and the classrooms are bright, well-lit and spacious . The main building also houses the recently refurbished library, a thoughtfully designed and bright space that looks both cosy and inspiring.
The school is well-served with outdoor space, including a couple of versatile playgrounds that have a Victorian schoolyard feel to them, and a sizeable, walled school field with an onsite Forest School at the far end. There’s also sports courts with hard-standing surfaces.
Science is housed in its own separate building, which the head says makes the children feel like proper, grown-up scientists – a class just heading in as we pass certainly seems to be buzzing.
Just past the science lab, a new drama studio, opened in 2017, is a real highlight. At the far end of the site, with a glass frontage of bi-fold doors opening out onto the field, it’s a really grown-up space with lots of potential, from hosting all-school assemblies and performances to open air audiences to individual music and drama lessons.
It’s a great site for sport and games, with the ample school field and courts. Sport isn’t fully co-ed yet but opportunities are increasing for older girls to play tag rugby and football, and boys to try their hand at netball and hockey. Dance, gymnastics and swimming are also taught to all pupils from Year 1 and from Year 3 onwards, pupils have the opportunity to take part in fixtures against other schools on Wednesday afternoons. House matches take place throughout the year, and as well as a team of dedicated PE teachers, the school welcomes coaches to give masterclasses in all major sports.
Perhaps as the ultimate endorsement, the sporty boys and girls I spoke to were more than happy with the opportunities offered to them at the school other than expressing a wish for more co-ed sport opportunities.
The investment in the stunning new drama studio best sums up the commitment to creative arts, as does a specialist art and design room. Art, drama and music all feature on the curriculum and children are also given plenty of opportunities outside the curriculum. There are art, drama and culture clubs, weekly preparatory lessons for LAMDA examinations, and opportunities to join the choir and study a range of classical and popular instruments. Drumming is the latest addition – thanks no doubt to the separate location of the studio meaning kids can thump away to their hearts content.
This is very much a school that will work with children’s academic capabilities, as opposed to force them into a pre-prescribed box of attainment. Most leavers go on successfully to the academically selective Lancing College, with an impressive amount of pupils winning awards and scholarships. A handful go to other destinations including Steyning Grammar, Worth School and Eastbourne College. Seaford College, the fiercely academic Brighton College, Our Lady of Sion and Christ’s Hospital have also welcomed Lancing Prep Worthing leavers in recent years.
Heather Beeby joined Lancing Prep Worthing in 2014, as it became part of the Lancing College family. The school she inherited needed a lot of investment, but the kind of investment you don’t necessarily see. From rewiring and restoring old internal systems to breathing new life into the school, she’s clearly been both sensitive to the school’s history, and focused on making it fit for the future. Her efforts have paid off too, as the school is thriving inside and out. Numbers of pupils have increased and are approaching the level she wants – this is a small school, with class sizes limited to 20 at the most.
She’s introduced a simple but highly effective ethos to Lancing Prep Worthing based on three short statements: Love Learning, Be Kind, and Go Out Into The World And Do Good. These principles underpin everything the school does and keep things simple for children and staff. Clear expectations are a hallmark of good leadership, so it’s no surprise the school is doing well. It’s also immediately obvious Mrs Beeby embodies these principles herself.
I think smaller schools really do lend themselves well to excellent pastoral care and Lancing Prep Worthing is no exception. Children are all known as individuals, and pastoral care begins with the form tutors and extends out to the assistant head and her wellbeing team.
The challenge for schools of this size, with such a community feel, is balancing pastoral with enough opportunities so children feel part of ‘the real world’. Every child I spoke to was enthusiastic about the range of clubs and opportunities on offer, which suggests LPW has the balance right.
WRAPAROUND CARE AND CO-CURRICULAR
There’s no boarding at LPW but wraparound care begins at 8am and children can stay until 6pm if necessary. For younger children the provision is more childcare-based with an evening tea, whereas older children tend to stay on until 5.30 with various activities and clubs, and can then join the wraparound care. Charges vary, depending on the age of the child and if they’re in the wraparound childcare or an after-school club.
From year 3 upwards children can join after-school clubs, which cover a huge range. Alongside sports, music, drama and art more unusual additions include debating, philosophy and coding.
WORD ON THE GROUND
Pupils really feel like part of the community here, and newer joiners were particularly effusive about what a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and environment they’d become part of. Their only real criticism was that occasionally the food is ‘too healthy’ – it’s hard to imagine this not being a big selling point with parents, though.
£2,545 a term for Reception to year 2, £4,010 a term for years 3 to 8. Five full days at preschool is £2,785 a term.
Good for: Good kids, whether born or made. Children joining at 2+ are going to grow up within the school’s ethos and learn to embody it. It’s also great for children joining in Year 7 who want, or need, a few more years of childhood before the pressures of high school.
Not for: It’s not a conveyor belt for precocious mini-adults, and I got the strong feeling that kids trying to grow up too quickly would be brought down to earth with a bump here – but in a way that can only benefit them. They’ve got the rest of their lives to slouch around staring at their phones, after all.
Dare to disagree? Book a space on an open day or arrange a personal visit.
Lancing Prep Worthing, Broadwater Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN14 8HU, 01903 201123