Westbourne House School

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For similarly named schools, see Westbourne.
Westbourne House School
Established 29 January 1907
Type Preparatory, boarding
Religion non-denominal
Headmaster Martin Barker
Location Coach Road, Shopwyke
West Sussex
PO20 2BH
England Coordinates: 50°50′30″N 0°44′25″W / 50.8417°N 0.7403°W / 50.8417; -0.7403
Local authority West Sussex
Students 450
Gender co-educational
Ages 3–13
Website Westbourne House School

Westbourne House School is an independent preparatory school 1½ miles east of Chichester, West Sussex, England. It is co-educational and serves around 450 boarding and day-school pupils from ages 3–13. The headmaster is Martin Barker.


The school was founded in Folkestone on 29 January 1907 and was accommodated in a purpose built school called Westbourne House. The first headteacher, Miss Hare, ran the school until 1932 when Mr Geoffrey Shilcock took over and changed the school from a pre-preparatory to a preparatory school.

In 1938, with war looming, a temporary safer home was found for the school at Upcott near Barnstaple and in 1939, the school moved to Devon where it remained for seven years. The original building was damaged during the war, so a search was made for another suitable premises. In 1946, the school bought Shopwyke Park which had been requisitioned during the war and now stood empty. After clearing away the Nissen huts from the grounds and some repair of the building, the boys started their first term there in September 1947.

In 1961, Mr Shilcock decided to retire and the school was due to close. However, the Sharmans bought the school and with the help of Mr Maurice Ellis, the recently retired Head of the Mall School, Twickenham and Miss Blackman, a stalwart of the staff, the school began to grow. In 1967 it became a Charitable Trust in order for all the money to be put back into the school without deducting tax. Mr and Mrs Sharman developed Westbourne House into a well-respected and well loved school. On their retirement in 1989, Mr Sharman became the Chairman and Mrs Sharman a member of the Board of Governors.

In the 1990s the school was one of nearly 400 schools used to educate the children of British diplomats posted overseas.[1][2]

Since that time, the school continued to develop in size, structure and methods. Under the stewardship of Stephen Rigby, the school doubled in size, introduced co-education, developed art and music and undertook an ambitious building program. Mr Rigby moved on in 2003 after 14 successful years as Headmaster. Brendan Law was appointed as his successor in September 2003, until departing to open a school in Abu Dhabi in 2011. Deputy Head of four years Martin Barker succeeded him in April 2011.

Academic standards[edit]

Following their November 2006 inspection, the Independent Schools Inspectorate said "The school achieves all its major aims and objectives. A strong sense of community pervades the school. The personal development of pupils is outstanding. They develop mutual respect, treat each other and adults with dignity, politeness, and concern, and become confident, caring, and responsible citizens. Within a relaxed yet purposeful atmosphere, pupils of all abilities reach high standards of learning and achievement. Relationships between staff and pupils, the leadership of the senior management team, the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff, and the good standard of teaching are key elements in enabling pupils to reach their potential."

A significant number of Westbourne "Old Boys" have made their way to the finest universities; and alumni vary from professional rugby players to theoretical physicists.


The school has developed a reputation for cricketing excellence over the years under the firm hand of coach Kevin Smith (Sussex CCC) and from 1991 to 2001 won the Hayland Trophy nine out of the ten years. The school 1st XI went six seasons unbeaten from 1997 to 2000. The year leaving 2006 were also a year of great promise being unbeaten.


The school is also noted[by whom?] for its large and successful Music Department, which has been run by Director of Music Alexander Dichmont for the last 20 years, currently assisted by Richard Allum. A large number of pupils receive music scholarships to the leading public schools, and there are numerous concerts and musical productions throughout the year. The department runs two orchestras and four choirs, and in the last five years the Chapel Choir have produced two CDs and toured Paris and Rome. Visiting musicians are a regular feature at the school, with the pianist Steven Savage and the composer John Rutter being the most recent guests. The school employs nearly 30 visiting music staff, who teach a wide range of instruments. A high proportion of these teachers are also professional performers.[citation needed]

Notable alumni[edit]


Additional references[edit]

External links[edit]