Varndean College is a popular and successful Sixth Form College based in Brighton with over 1500 students aged 16 to 18. In the evenings it opens its doors to the community to offer a wide range of adult education courses. It also provides Family and Community Learning at several outreach centres within the City. Full-time Access courses have places for up to 40 mature students.
The College draws largely from the Brighton and Hove schools but also from other East and West Sussex schools. A small number of students come from the independent sector and from overseas. This all makes for a lively and cosmopolitan mix of students.
Varndean’s mission statement is :
‘through the quality of its provision and support for a diverse community, to encourage and inspire all its students to fulfil their potential’.
Curriculum and Achievement
Varndean College specialises in the provision of academic and general vocational education to the 16-19 age group. At level 3 it offers over 30 A level subjects alongside a choice of vocational qualifications. Varndean is the only sixth form college in the area to be selected as an International Baccalaureate World School offering a popular IB Diploma Programme. At level 2 about 140 students follow various vocational courses and a range of core GCSEs.
In addition to examination courses and tutorial work, a broad programme of enrichment activities is available to students, including sporting activities, art, drama, music, political and environmental issues, work experience and volunteering. There is an extensive range of day, residential and international trips and good support for students to organise their own clubs and societies. A thriving Student Union enables students to contribute to the development and improvement of the College as well as the organisation of social and fund-raising activities. The work of the College in the areas of environmental and international education has been recognised through national awards.
The College has a distinguished record of achievement over a number of years. In 2016 the A level pass rate was 98.4% with more than half of our students obtaining A* and B grades and over 80% achieving A*-C grades. More than two thirds of subjects achieved 100% pass rate. Students on the International Baccalaureate programme achieved some of the best results in the UK with an average score of 36 points, which is the equivalent to 3 A grades at A level. Success rates and high grades for vocational courses are similarly high. We are particularly proud of the fact that, at Varndean College, students do significantly better than expected, based on their GCSE results.
The College staff numbered 217 in May 2017, consisting of 110 full and part-time teachers and 107 full and part-time support staff, plus an additional 50 Adult Education tutors. The Principal, Dr Phil Harland is supported by a Deputy Principal and two Directors.
Curriculum subjects are organised into five areas each led by a Head of School, with two Assistant Heads of School. Programme Leaders are responsible for individual subject areas within the schools. Teaching staff are supported by departmental technicians, IT technicians and administrative staff. The Additional Support Team provides in-class support and individual support to students. Support staff teams include HR, Finance, Marketing, Registry and Site Maintenance.
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OUR 2016 SHORT INSPECTION CONFIRMED OUR PREVIOUS GRADE OF ‘GOOD’. INSPECTORS SAID:
- Teachers have worked successfully to ensure that progress made from starting points by students on A Level courses remains outstanding and that progress on the International Baccalaureate course is also outstanding.
- Students studying at Level 3 benefit from a broad curriculum choice that allows a good range of combinations of academic and vocational courses, in addition to the highly successful International Baccalaureate programme.
- Students enjoy being at the college and value very highly the inclusive, tranquil atmosphere.
- Teaching, learning and assessment are of a consistently high standard and students enjoy the vibrant and challenging lessons they attend.