Varndean School

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Varndean School
Balfour Road

, ,

Coordinates50°51′01″N 0°08′14″W / 50.85028°N 0.13714°W / 50.85028; -0.13714Coordinates: 50°51′01″N 0°08′14″W / 50.85028°N 0.13714°W / 50.85028; -0.13714
TypeCommunity school
MottoChallenge and Pride
Local authorityBrighton and Hove
Department for Education URN114579 Tables
Chair of GovernorsJon Dee
HeadteacherWilliam Deighan
Age11 to 16
HousesAngelou, Russell, Turing, Ellis

Varndean School is a secondary school serving a large area of Brighton, England.

In 2013, Ofsted inspectors confirmed Varndean is a 'Good' school. Inspectors said, 'A strength of lessons is the good relationships between the teachers and students and between students themselves. This enables them to work more effectively'.

Varndean shares the Surrenden Campus with Balfour Primary School,[1] Dorothy Stringer High School and Varndean College.[2]


Varndean was founded in 1884 in central Brighton as York Place Higher Grade School. An Organised Science School was added in 1894. The name changed to Brighton Municipal Secondary School for Girls in 1905. During World War I, the York Place buildings were taken over for use as an Indian Military Hospital and not returned until 1919.

In 1926, the school moved to a new site on the outskirts of Brighton. It was renamed 'Varndean' School for Girls, after the nearby farm. The new building was opened by the Duchess of Atholl. In 1929, a football club, Old Varndeanians, was established for former pupils.

During World War II half the school evacuated to Yorkshire.[citation needed]

The School was a Grammar school for girls until the comprehensive movement and the take-over of Brighton by East Sussex County Council saw the educational system reorganised. Between 1975 and 1979, Varndean Grammar School for Girls became Varndean High School, a coeducational comprehensive. The Boys' Grammar School became Varndean Sixth Form College.

In recent years,[when?] several building projects have resulted in increased accommodation. In the original building, several rooms have been converted into IT suites and extensions made to house new Mathematics rooms, a Music suite and extra PE facilities, such as a Fitness Suite and a Dance Studio. A Sports hall and an astro-turf pitch have also been added. The Balfour Building, opened in 1993, houses Art and Design Technology. The Friar Building, in use since 2000, accommodates English and Humanities. In 2008, a new expanded Library opened in the Ditchling building, it was refurbished in 2013 as the new Reading Room.[citation needed]

Varndean was the first specialist school in the city, being granted a specialism in Technology in 1998. In 2005 it went on to be designated a high-performing specialist school; in 2006 Varndean obtained its second specialism in Music, followed by a third specialism in Applied Learning in 2007.

Several Pygmy goats were introduced in September 2016 and are cared for by students. The goats were initially being rehomed and intended to control grass, but their therapeutic effects have been recognised.[3][4]


  • 1884–1894 M. Brion
  • 1894–1901 A. North
  • 1901–1909 L. Hilton
  • 1909–1937 E. Ellis
  • 1937–1961 M. Warmington (Varndean School for Girls)
  • 1961–1977 R. Clarke (Varndean School for Girls)
  • 1977–1986 M. Smithers
  • 1986–1999 P. Bowmaker O.B.E
  • 1999–2008 A. Schofield
  • 2009–present W. Deighan

Notable current staff[edit]

Notable former pupils[edit]


  1. ^ Balfour Primary School Website
  2. ^ Varndean College website
  3. ^ "Brighton school now home to five pygmy goats". ITV News. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  4. ^ "How pygmy goats have transformed pupil behaviour". Tes News. 3 February 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2018.
  5. ^ "Gill the Apprentice". Retrieved 17 December 2018.

External links[edit]