The 2026 Advance Programme brings together aspiring Lancing College pupils for a day of intellectual challenge and fun. This week over 100 Year 6 pupils from schools across the Local, Regional and London areas attended the Advance Programme assessment day at Lancing.
The start of the day saw the excited children arriving at the College for their Lancing Experience Day. Pupils relished a day where they met new friends, enjoyed a real variety of activities and tasks and took part in one-to-one interviews with teachers.
One of the key elements of the day is the much-anticipated written task, which is designed fresh for every year by Dr John Herbert, Deputy Head. In this year’s task, pupils turned detectives for their assessment task. They went back in time to a snowed-in Cable College, a prestigious boarding school with a wonderful chapel, isolated by the weather, on the South Downs of England ... In the guise of Mr Proctor, Cable College’s Bursar, our young detectives had to study the notes from his investigation to work out who murdered Mr Rubin, the Director of Dance whose body had been found stuffed in the pipes of Cable College’s famous organ the night after a rehearsal of his dance show, The Passion of St Nicholas. Was it the mild-mannered Revd Dunne, the Assistant Chaplain who had a very public argument with Mr Rubin, chasing him to pay his common room wine bill? Could it be Mr de la Zouche, the Director of Drama and Creative Arts, who disliked Mr Rubin’s show boating? Or perhaps the killer was Miss Warbuoys, the Drama and Dance Department Secretary, a former showgirl and Mr Rubin’s old girlfriend for whom he still held a flame?
Dr John Herbert, Lancing’s Deputy Head, explains the nature of the task,
We design our admissions tests without a right answer. We’re most interested in pupils doing two things: thinking independently to assess evidence they’ve not seen before to construct an argument and, just as importantly, to have some fun doing so. At Lancing we prize spark, rigorous thought and independence. Tests shouldn’t be pressured or stressful. They should give children a chance to think. It was great to see these young people find their own varied solutions to our mystery over the day. The bubble of excitement was palpable.
This year, we introduced two new sessions, one on drama and the other on team building. This included the pupils using their acting skills to show the rest of the group their best five-headed monster, motorbike or washing machine. For the sports enthusiasts we had dodge ball and other team games. Pupils really relished the fun and shared time working together.
It was a balanced day of academic and extracurricular activities and we are delighted to have received very positive feedback from parents and Prep School Heads. One parent wrote,
Thank you for inviting my son to yesterday's admissions day - he said that he really enjoyed his day at Lancing, everyone was very welcoming and the food was good!
While Richard Clark, Academic Deputy Head of Handcross Park stated,
It is rare that pupils run to find me on the day after the assessment day at senior schools. However, that was the case for the pupils that went to Lancing. They were really animated saying the day was really enjoyable, loving the mystery and activities.
Concluding the day and talking to parents who came together for afternoon tea, Dominic Oliver, Head Master said,
We have been running the Advance Programme for over six years now and it forms a major strand of our recruitment into Year 9 at Lancing. At this stage we are looking to identify young people who have a good level of academic ability that will enable them to thrive at Lancing. In addition, we are looking across the day at how individuals interact with each other, are able to articulate their qualities in an interview with teachers and to show kindness to others. The day is intended to be one of enjoyment, intellectual stimulation and a chance to taste life at Lancing.
The Lancing College Admissions Team would like to welcome you to one of our open events this term.