In late November we launched our campaign Lancing Foundationers: bursaries that change lives. This is a programme which will enable young people who would not otherwise even begin to dream of a Lancing education, to join us. One of my strongest beliefs is that the young people in our care must go out into the world not just to be successful members of society, but to change society for the better. This applies to all who join the Lancing community, and through this campaign we have the unique and galvanising chance to enable an especially powerful change to take place.
Our aim is to fund 25 Foundationers through the programme by 2022. We started the campaign last spring, quietly talking to a small number of people and sharing our plans. We have been thrilled by the response to this beginning and the amount raised already tops £1.5m. Now is the time to get noisy about it all so that we have a chance to raise the £3m needed to make it all happen. You can read more about the campaign in this newsletter and we will be sharing more in the coming months.
As I write, the Fifth Formers are taking trial GCSE examinations, and the Third Form will be taking their first Lancing examinations next week. Their hard work, ambition and focus do them credit and will mean that the Christmas break will feel well and truly earned. At the top of the school, UCAS offers are beginning to roll in and Lancing’s candidates for Oxford and Cambridge are starting to undergo the final rigours of the formal interview process. Twenty-two of them have been called to interview and they have been extensively prepared over recent months, culminating in intensive and cross-examining practice within the College, and in partnership with Roedean, Christ’s Hospital and Eastbourne College. Scholarly and determined, they bring real talent and very considerable academic potential to this supremely searching process and we all wish them good luck in their endeavours.
Improvements and developments in a range of facilities around the school are now in full use. There is a notable increase in the use of the Gym by boys and girls since it has been expanded. The new layout, enhanced range of equipment and increased space, has provided separate areas for both cardio workouts and strength building. The new Dance Studio, to be named the Jacqueline Storey Dance Studio, is also now open with sprung floor, double barres, full mirrors and music centre. There will be a formal opening in the new year and more opportunities to enjoy and to see dance at Lancing in the weeks and months to come. The pupils are – forgive me – leaping at the chance to enjoy the new space.
In addition to some notable successes this term for our long-established teams in hockey, football and squash (results against Bede’s, Bradfield and Harrow – the latter a complete sweep across all age groups – were particularly pleasing), our equestrian team has been making its first outings. With the addition of two new horses, a newly-built judging and viewing box and a good range of practice competitions, we have high hopes for our new team of riders. They have been competing in a number of events in preparation for the upcoming National Schools Equestrian Association (NSEA) show jumping and dressage competitions. Indeed, bounds of control and elegance, whether on foot or horseback, seem to be the order of the day.
This weekend the preparations for Christmas started in fine style as we enjoyed a splendid Advent Concert in Great School. Playing to a packed audience and including pupils from every year group – nearly a fifth of the school played or sang on the night – our musicians kept us magnificently entertained. As ever, the range of music and styles was eclectic and hugely enjoyable. Whatever your musical appetite, be it orchestral Beethoven or Mendelssohn, Big Band Boogie Woogie or Freddie Mercury a cappella, saxophonic playfulness in the Twelve Tunes of Christmas or a new rendering of a well-established favourite (Rafi, our BBC Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year, sang an intriguing new arrangement of Away in A Manger), there was something for every musical palate. Following so swiftly after Guys and Dolls and with multiple special Services still to come in the next weeks, I must applaud the diligence and dedication of pupils and their teachers in preparing for these major events while at the same time keeping pace with their academic studies. At Lancing we absolutely delight in this sort of challenge and while Christmas will shortly be upon us, there is much to relish before we get there, not least the end of term Carol Service; I do hope to see you there.