Head Master's Message: February 2020

The Coronavirus continues to occupy the thoughts of the school but it has been very cheering to see a strong sense of communal solidarity: we are operating very much as normal on a day-to-day basis. The everyday is being leavened with regular festive fixtures and this year’s Chinese New Year banquet and accompanying entertainment for the whole school was particularly delightful. The intellectual grappling of the House debating competition is progressing feistily and has been accompanied by some very cheering progress in the prestigious Schools Mace competition. Student fundraising for Charities Term is well underway and they are making real progress in meeting their targets. The first House Music Competition of Mr Mason’s tenure got off to a sparkling start and in summarising the final concert our guest adjudicator ran out of superlatives. The Drama Department’s appetite to deliver productions seems veritably insatiable: two Bancroft plays – each student-written and directed – provided light-entertainment last week and, as I write, two more productions are due to take place this evening. All this and the regular round of the school routine is running along at a cracking pace ...

It is exciting to see the Upper Sixth blossoming into young adults, inhabiting that peculiar mixture of living Lancing life to the full with eyes also on those glittering prizes beyond their school days. Trial exams have sharpened their focus, particularly as they come alongside a raft of excellent university offers. Countless successful applications to Russell Group universities have come through, offers to read Medicine are flying in and we have a bumper tranche of success at Oxford and Cambridge this year; nine Oxbridge offers makes for a particularly pleasing position in what has seemed a tough year overall for pupils in parallel schools. The independence of thinking we nurture here, from the Third Form Metacog Projects and the Sixth Form Heresy Essays, to a host of challenging lessons and activities in between, add up to exactly what the very best universities are after. 

Those going down to the sporting touchlines may have noticed that the Pavilion is currently being refurbished. The project is due to be completed after the Easter holidays and in time for the start of the Summer Term. We will be using this renewed space for sporting events but also for other formal and informal school gatherings. The refurbishment is being funded by the Lancing Foundation and The OL Club, with some support from the College. The plan is to formally re-open the Pavilion on Founder’s Day – more updates will follow in the coming weeks; do watch this space. 

The Foundationers project powers on and we are signing off on the group of young people due to join us in September: thank you for your continued support.  When it comes to foundations of another sort, the Chapel Completion project is well underway. We have received the first deliveries of stone and while there is some £150,000 needed to complete the work by 2021, I am pleased to report that The Friends of Lancing Chapel and the College have so far raised over £1 million of the £1.24 million target through gifts and pledges. Do look HERE for more details on the project, including how to donate.

I opened with mention of the Coronavirus and would like to close on a note of gratitude and reassurance on that front. There are a few patches of understandable anxiety, but the young people at the heart of the College community are impressively calm and are supporting each other with particular warmth when it comes to those overseas pupils who have not been able to travel home for the break. I am especially grateful too to those families who are offering some home comforts by hosting friends next week. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely over the break and to follow advice from the relevant authorities and associations; I will write to you directly if anything changes from the plans and requirements we have already laid out. We are planning for all eventualities, but as things stand we aim that Lancing life will continue to provide a rich and varied diet: it will be very much ‘business as usual’ – exactly as it has been over the last weeks. In the meantime, I hope that the Half Term break is re-energising for all.