A college where every student is important...

At Varndean we pride ourselves on our inclusive and harmonious environment, where every student is given the opportunities and support they need to fulfil their potential.

Located in the green outskirts of Brighton, we offer 16 to 19-year-old daytime students a wide range of academic and vocational courses, as well as being the only state-funded college in the area to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma.

In the evenings, we open our doors to the community, offering an extensive programme of Adult Education courses, as well providing Family and Community Learning at several outreach centres across the city. Full-time Access to Higher Education courses also offer opportunities for up to 40 mature students.

Varndean students come not only from Brighton & Hove and schools across Sussex, but also from the independent sector and overseas; creating a uniquely cosmopolitan environment.

At Varndean, we offer more...

We specialise in academic and general vocational education for 16 to 19-year-olds. At Level 3, we offer over 30 A Level subjects, a choice of vocational qualifications, and the increasingly popular alternative to A Levels, the International Baccalaureate Diploma. At Level 2, over a hundred students each year study various vocational courses and a range of core GCSEs.

Alongside studies, we offer a wide range of enrichment activities for students; including both competitive and recreational sports clubs; creative arts such as Life Drawing, Drama, and our Funk Band; political, environmental, and religious societies such as Feminist Society, Muslim Voice, and Rainbow Alliance; and clubs for those wishing to expand on their studies such as Chemistry Society, Law Society, and Raspberry Pi Club. A thriving Student Union also enables students to contribute to college life.

Outside the college, students are supported with work experience and volunteering opportunities; and we arrange an extensive programme of day, residential, and international trips, including our annual Kaloko Trust charity project in Zambia.

Our Principal, Dr Phil Harland, says, “Instead of telling students they have to fit into a narrow curriculum, at Varndean we make the curriculum fit them.”

At Varndean, students achieve more...

Varndean has a distinguished record of achievement over a number of years. In 2019, the A Level pass rate was 98%, with nearly 50% achieving A*-B grades and 71% achieving A*-C grades. Varndean also offers a comprehensive range of vocational courses, which many students take alongside A Levels, and once again these results were equally impressive with all courses achieving a 100% pass rate. Students on the International Baccalaureate Diploma programme again achieved some of outstanding results, with an average score of 36 points which is the equivalent to 3 A grades at A Level. Over the past two years, 22 students have gained 40 points or above and 75% of those applying to UCAS acquired places at Russell Group universities, including five at Oxford and Cambridge and twelve studying medicine. In 2018, one student gained an incredible maximum score of 45 points, putting him in the top 0.5% of students worldwide and is now studying Medicine at Sheffield University, and in 2019 another student gained 44 points placing her in the top 1% of 169,000 IB students worldwide and is now studying Medicine at University College, London.

At Varndean, we defy expectations...

We are very proud of the fact that Varndean College students achieve significantly more than others would expect based on their GCSE results*. In the 2017 Department for Education “16-18 Schools Colleges Performance Table for Added Value”, Varndean was ranked 2nd out of all sixth form colleges in the country. In the league table for all 2,770 providers of A Levels, we were placed 217th (in the top 9%), higher than Brighton College (at 234th).

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.'

*'Value Added' scores are government calculations which provide a measure as to how much more or less successful students have been by declaring how much 'value' has been added to their results.


  • Governors, leaders and managers have developed a highly inclusive culture that allows staff and students to thrive.
  • Teachers know their students well and have high expectations. They use their own experiences and expertise to motivate students to achieve.
  • Students have positive attitudes to their learning and are proud of their work. They are confident, self-assured, courteous and respectful. They feel that staff treat their health and wellbeing as a priority, which supports them to learn and achieve.
  • A Level and vocational students make good progress and achieve well.
  • Students on the IB course make outstanding progress. Their achievement is exceptionally high and well above the international average. They develop extremely high levels of skill, knowledge and understanding and the very large majority move on to their first-choice university.
  • Students benefit from a broad and balanced curriculum that meets their individual needs.